Eat cooked foods. They’re more easily digested, especially during the vata season of late fall. Avoid denser, heavier foods that require more digestive energy, such as red meat, hard cheeses, and pastas. Drink warm lemon water in the morning to stay hydrated. Signs of dehydration include thirst, dry lips or skin, and constipation. Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Gradually make your way back to your usual exercise or yoga routine. Eat mindfully.
To ease the internal process, you’ll eat easily digestible foods during the cleanse, so your body can put more energy toward eliminating toxins, but you’ll also maintain enough variety and flavor in your diet to keep you from losing interest or feeling hungry. As a four-day program, the cleanse is just long enough to strengthen the digestive fire and purify the mind without going so deep that it’s necessary to have a personal Ayurvedic practitioner oversee the process. And though Ayurvedic dietary and lifestyle recommendations can be specific to your dominant dosha—your unique physical and mental constitution that influences your well-being—this cleanse is tri-doshic, meaning it works for everyone, according to Carlson. So there is no need to first complete a complicated quiz to identify whether your dominant dosha is vata (air and ether), pitta (fire and water), or kapha (earth and water). “As individuals, we are swayed by our own constitution, but nature also can influence us,” Carlson says. “Vata dosha governs fall and winter, and therefore, everybody carries excessive cold and dry qualities during these seasons unless you’re doing activities to prevent this trend, like a seasonally appropriate cleanse.”
Our simple, rejuvenating 4-day Ayurvedic cleanse is just the thing to set yourself up for a joyful, healthful winter season.
With plenty of hip and abdominal work, this sequence is meant to stoke the digestive fire. While practicing, keep the breath deep and rhythmic to stimulate circulation. If you want to lengthen your practice, Carlson recommends beginning with 3 to 6 rounds of your favorite variation of Sun Salutations.
Ease your transition into the cleanse with these pre-launch preparations:
Increasingly, even Western health practitioners will recommend following a seasonal cleansing program because of the glut of synthetic chemicals we encounter in food, personal-care products, water, soil, and the air. In the United States, more than 80,000 chemicals used in food containers, flame retardants, pesticides, and other products have not been tested for their health effects, and researchers have found traces of nearly 300 toxins in the umbilical-cord blood of newborns. When these toxins are passed from mother to child in the womb, our children are often born “pre-polluted,” according to the President’s Cancer Panel 2010 report. “But the body can naturally eliminate toxins when the digestive fire is consistently strong,” says Carlson. And that’s what her Ayurvedic cleanse sets out to do.
Practice this seated So hum meditation for 5 to 20 minutes once or twice a day, in the morning or evening, to anchor the mind’s attention and invite self-inquiry.
Get out in nature for a 15- to 30-minute daily walk, which will boost harmony, balance, and peacefulness, and increase metabolism for detoxification. How to: Try a local forest, park, garden, or waterfront—the exact location isn’t as important as the opportunity to be outside and to reduce sensory stimulation (so leave those earbuds at home!).