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So, I am no ayurvedic expert but the ancient sister science to yoga is something that has been of deep interest to me for a long time. I first became aware of ayurveda through my mother by way of THE Deepak Chopra - I remember taking a dosha quiz and reading about my dominant constitution when I was still in middle school - it was so spot on and that had always stuck with me. When I began my yoga teacher training at Kripalu years later I had no idea we would spend so much time on ayurveda and the ideas around living a yogic lifestyle but again I was pleased to learn as much as I could (except for the part I watched my teacher scrape her own tongue in from of 50 people, that was kinda weird). Then again, while working at YogaWorks in Los Angeles I was exposed to other aspects of ayurveda as a good friend was going through an intensive training. It is one of those things that I soak up like a sponge  - I always tune in when it comes up because it is just fun for me to know about (kinda like the Revolutionary War and Ancient Aliens but those are topics for another day).

Now, I do not by any means obey all the ayurvedic principles all the time - I don't eat much oil (recommended to dampen my constitutions' airy qualities), I seldom dry brush or practice self massage and I don't always rise before the sun (thanks a lot, daylight savings) BUT I when I do apply ayurvedic practices, I notice that the yogic high I experience on the mat begins to seep into my daily life - routine becomes ritual, self care becomes sacred and food becomes nourishment. I love how ayurveda lets me slow down and truly recognize all the mundane 'life stuff' for the gift that it is.  


ayurvedicspringcleanse

PANCHAKARMA: CLEANSING THE AYURVEDIC WAY

For the past few months the ayurvedic practice of panchakarma (a fivefold detoxification treatment involving massage, herbal therapy, and other procedures) has been popping up for me over and over again. "Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means “five actions” or “five treatments”. It is a process used to clean the body of toxic materials left by disease and poor nutrition". A true panchakarma is a serious (read: expensive) thing and involves a ton of highly involved treatments like, um, oil-enemas (which I'm not hating on at all, I'd totally do it, but ya know $$$). By very principal, panchakarma is to be performed away from the home over a week or more under the supervision and care of more than one ayurvedic practitioner, but, as they say "ain't nobody got time for that" so I decided to create my own toned-down ayurvedic cleanse inspired by some of the principles outlined in this ancient practice.

Albeit intensive, I love the idea that I can make my own ayurvedic cleanse not about full-on withdrawal from daily life. Believe me, I am all for a good juice detox every now and again (heck I even wrote a book on it, which you can find here) but this type of mono-food cleansing sounded do-able and heck, even enjoyable to me this time around. It's approachable and because you can do a lot of meal prep it's easy to do without full on retreat from life. I love that when performing the practices I outline below, I am integrating them into my day-to-day life which hopefully will transform into a deeper awareness around self care. 

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ayurvedicspringcleanse

I was inspired to this at-home mini panchakarma as a counterweight against the uprootedness I have felt over the past few months - packing up, moving and traveling across the country, then relocating back to my hometown with a 'way-to-flexible-for-my-liking type of plan'. To be honest, it has not been an easy transition leaving remote Northern California and trying to integrate back into busy tri-state life and I really did not expect the ...ahem, feelings I'd be having. Not to mention, I have a strange uneasiness about spring - most people welcome the change but for me it has always brought on a little bit of anxiety (similar to the feeling others get around winter equinox). Anyway, it's safe to say I am so ready for a detoxifying, nourishing, grounding, cleansing pause from all of the emotional and physical stress I've taken on. 

Here's what I am hoping to get out of it:

  • A sense of groundedness 
  • A handle on my digestion (which has been, ahem, all over the place lately)
  • A daily routine that fell by the wayside with all the moving
  • A better read on my feelings and a means to translate them into action (or inaction)
  • The ability to S-L-O-W-the-F-D-O-W-N and process, consider and plan before I react

AYURVEDIC CLEANSE + KITCHIRI

In a panchakarma there are a few days of cleansing/detoxifying where, among other things, the participant is to solely consume kitchiri - a porridge of jasmine rice, split mung beans and traditional indian spices (I got my kitchiri spice blend from Banyan Botanicals on Amazon). A friend of mine who lived in Tibet refers to kitchiri as the 'chicken soup' for that part of the world and I can see why - it is SO damn comforting. A few great things about kitchiri:

  • It's cheap
  • It's tri-doshic, meaning it will suit you no matter your ayurvedic constitution or the time of year
  • It digests super easily -rice and mung beans are easy on the intestines
  • It's a complete protein (all those amino acids do a body good)
  • It's satisfying and sustainable (unlike other cleanses where you're starving)
  • It's totally customizable - this goes along with kitchiri being tri-doshic, you can customize each serving with different fruits, vegetables, chutneys or nut butters to make it savory, sweet, light or filling.

The spice mixture featured in most kitchiri includes brown mustard seed, turmeric, mineral salt, cumin seed, ginger, asafoetida and fenugreek which are all great at aiding in digestion thus helping to get the body back in a balanced rhythm. You can go as light or as heavy with the spices as you wish but  don't worry, it isn't spicy but rather full of flavor and actually slightly bitter. But be warned - due to the golden glow of turmeric (which is great for fighting inflammation) you need to be careful that you don't wind up with yellow-stained everything like me (sorry wooden spoon, sorry fingers). You can of course buy these spices separately, toast them and grind them but I like to take the shortcut with the package from Banyan - it's 97% organic and really tasty. 

Spring, ayurvedicly speaking, is kapha season (think heavy, cool, dense and wet) and winter is vata (think airy, cool and dry) so balancing those two energies -especially with three NorEasters to deal with - will be a challenge - that's where your kitchiri additions come in. As an ideal, all three doshas (vata, kapha and pita) are somewhat balanced in the body - in a state of flux just like the seasons, but equal overall. In order bring our equalize our doshas we can focus on certain practices to bring out one quality or another and eat certain foods to suppress others. First you need to center in and listen - see what types of ailments or discomforts are coming up for you before you do your research to see what your body may need.

I think ayurveda has hit the nail on the head in that it considers elimination (poop, yes, poop) to be the ultimate testament to health - if we are not eliminating properly, how can we expect anything else to ...ahem, flow? 

Here's a short little breakdown of additions you can make to increase your personal agne (or inner fike aka digestion) and pacify any dominant dosha. If you want to dive deeper, check out this link.

VATA:

  • Cooked root vegetables or winter squashes
  • Brown rice in lue of white jasmine rice
  • Garnish with cilantro and green onion

KAPHA:

  • Millet or quinoa in lue of rice (grains often don't sit well with kaphas)
  • Bitter greens like broccoli rabe
  • Garnish with cilantro and lemon juice

PITTA:

  • Use coconut oil instead of ghee to encourage cooling
  • Add summer squash and celery
  • Garnish with cilantro and lime
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ENOUGH ALREADY...WHERE'S THE RECIPE?

A FEW THINGS TO NOTE: I am vegan - which means I do not use animal products of any kind. Traditionally, kitchiri can be started with ghee (or clarified butter) OR oil. Now, while ghee is recommended for balancing my vata energy, I choose coconut oil in lue of the animal based product. If you know me, you know I avoid oil all together but I do think its important add it in this particular instance. The ghee thing however is just a principal of mine that I will not compromise so the recipe below reflects that. Also note, Vata's should use a 'warmer' oil such as sesame but I can't stand the taste of the stuff so....coconut it is. 

I wanted to keep this cleanse very simple, I essentially used the basic recipe on the back of Banyan Botanicals Kitchiri Spice Blend - adding only a few additional ingredients as this is meant to be a break for your digestion. 


Serves: 3 meals for 3 days, divide according to amount desired (apx. 1.5 cups/meal) • Prep Time: 15 min • Cook Time: 45 minutes


FOR THE BASE RECIPE


METHOD:

1. Soak the brown rice and mung beans for 15 minutes in a large bowl, rinse well.

2. In a large pot, melt the coconut oil on medium heat and add in the kitichiri spices - toasting them gently for a minute or two.

3. Then add in the rice and beans - gently toast for a minute more before adding the water and seaweed. Stir well.

4. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the rice is tender and the mung beans have all but disappeared.

NOTE: Depending on your desired consistency, and taking into account that the mixture will continue to thicken, you may wish to add more liquid once you have removed the pot from the heat. I added apx. 2 cups more water as I like a consistency that is similar to a thin stew.

5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and scoop out your desired portion to reheat at all of your meals - adding toppings as desired.


MY FAVORITE SAVORY TOPPINGS:

  • Steamed kale, chard, asparagus or broccoli 
  • Roasted sweet potato, carrot and parsnips
  • Roasted butternut or kabocha squash
  • Cilanto
  • Lime/lemon juice
  • Tahini
  • Sea salt/pepper
  • Nutritional yeast (for that B12, yo)
  • Hot sauce

I enjoy sweet breakfasts to savory so kitchari doused in green onion and cilantro in the morning doesn't sound super appetizing to me so I will be making a 'sweet' version for breakfast, read below for more...

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MY FAVORITE SWEET/BREAKFAST TOPPINGS:

  • Coconut milk
  • Maple Syrup
  • Sweet potato or yams
  • Raisins or dates
  • Blueberries
  • Cinnamon + Cardamom
  • Sea salt

IN CASE YOU'RE WONDERING...

Kitchiri is just a part of my at home ayruvedic cleanse. Here's what a week of cleansing will look like for me: 

NOTE: If you are planning on doing your own cleanse, do your research and make it your own. This is all about filling your well so you can show up better for others and it's important that you choose the aspects that best serve you.

DAY ONE -

  • Morning meditation + journal
  • Eat lightly
  • Drink 3L + of water
  • Warm dandilion tea before bed
  • No caffeine
  • At least 1 hour of exercise
  • Morning and night self care routine - dry brushing, self massage, tongue scraping, stretching 

DAY TWO, THREE AND FOUR -

  • Morning Meditation + journal
  • Kichiri for breakfast, lunch and dinner (3 square meals)
  • Drink 3L + of water
  • Self massage x2
  • Warm dandilion tea before bed
  • No caffeine
  • At least 1 hour of exercise
  • Morning and night self care routine - dry brushing, self massage, tongue scraping, stretching

DAY FIVE -

  • Eat lightly + journal
  • Drink 3L + of water
  • Self massage x2
  • Warm dandilion tea before bed
  • No caffeine
  • At least 1 hour of exercise
  • Morning and night self care routine - dry brushing, self massage, tongue scraping, stretching

THINGS TO REMEMBER:

  • Thoroughly chew my food, be present when eating and focus only on eating
  • Stay present, don't reach for the phone each time an uncomfortable emotion comes up
  • Confront problems head on
  • Rest when I need to
  • Be selective with my energy

Are you interested in ayurvedic cleansing? Will you do this on your own? Would you want to do one as a group together over the spring equinox complete with recipe guide and facebook group? Let me know in the comments below!


LIVE IN THE LIGHT, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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