Many people struggle to release anger, grief and other toxic emotions, not realizing how harmful they can be to overall health.
Ayurveda believes the body’s inability to “digest” toxic emotions can be as detrimental as overeating and inactivity.
The goal of an Ayurvedic cleanse is to help the body rest, recuperate and repair itself, resulting in improved digestive strength, rejuvenated tissues, regular elimination, and a renewed sense of calm.
On a deeper level, an Ayurvedic cleanse also helps ignite agni, or digestive fire, which has a major influence on health. Agni refers broadly to the ability to process all aspects of life, including food, experiences, memories, and emotions. Agni helps the body absorb nutrients and essential elements and eliminate waste and toxins.
Ayurveda teachings maintain strong agni plays a vital role in health and well-being. When the body doesn’t process food and emotions like it should, toxic residue, or ama, can accumulate and lodge deep in the cells. This results in the slow deterioration of the body and can lead to disease.
Agni oversees digestion, absorption and assimilation in the GI tract, as well as the conversion of nutrients at the cellular level. It turns food into fuel and governs metabolism, even the digestion of thoughts and emotions.
Impaired agni weakens the body’s immune system; it can manifest in obvious physical ways or give more subtle signals. Many people underestimate the power of stored, ignored or unresolved negative emotion – these “indigestible” emotions send chemical messages through the body that interfere with digestion and produce toxic residue.
That’s why it’s so important to avoid eating when you’re upset, manage stress and find positive ways to let go of anger, sadness, guilt and grief.
If you’ve been storing toxicity from food or feelings, an Ayurvedic cleanse may help begin the process of healing and increase a sense of joy and well-being.
So what are some tips to help reset agni and restore optimal digestion:
- Water, water, water. Drinking water helps flush out toxins and oxygenate tissues. All bodily functions rely on adequate water, including cellular respiration and the removal of toxins and metabolic wastes. Sip hot water and detox tea in the morning and throughout the day to help reset digestion and eliminate waste products. Avoid ice, cold drinks, caffeine and alcohol.
- A one-day digest reset is the easiest way to start. You can try a day of fruit or juice or eat kitchari, a meal of rice, yellow mung dal, spices, clarified butter or ghee and vegetables. You also can do this for a week.
- For a longer cleanse, follow a diet that includes whole grains, legumes, vegetables, ghee, spices, and easy-to-digest foods. You don’t have to fast, just focus on vegetarian foods that are light, warm, and cooked.
- Minimize raw foods, which are much harder to digest than cooked ones. Include cooked prunes, figs, apples, pears, pineapple, papaya, and cooked leafy greens, brussels sprouts and cabbage.
- Choose foods according to your body type or imbalances. This will help regulate your digestive fire and balance pitta, vata and kapha.
- Avoid foods that tend to create toxins in the body (ama), such as leftovers; packaged, canned, and frozen foods; and foods with chemicals, pesticides and chemical fertilizers and additives.
- Eliminate heavy and hard-to-digest foods such as meat, dairy, oily foods, cheese, processed food, and items with an excess of sour or salty tastes.
- You should not fast or skip meals, but also avoid snacking. Try to eat at the same time every day, with your mail meal at noon and lighter meals at breakfast and dinner. Your digestion will work best if you give it at least five to six hours between meals.
- Try a self-massage with warm oil or one that supports digestion. Massage helps to stimulate lymphatic drainage, clear the tissues and stir toxins into circulation so they can be eliminated as waste. The oil also can help calm and rejuvenate the nervous system and aid digestion.
- Take Triphala, herbal supplements or other Ayurvedic formulas for digestive support and bowel regularity. Triphala helps support and renew the internal organs of the body by gentle cleansing, eliminating stagnation and internal toxins, and improving digestion and absorption of nutrients.
- Be gentle with yourself. Take a daily short walk or do some gentle yoga to help with circulation and lymphatic drainage. But don’t overdo exercise. You may need more sleep while detoxifying. Try to go to bed before 10 p.m. and get up before 6 a.m. to aid the body’s natural purification processes.
You also can incorporate detoxification efforts such as saunas, Epsom salt baths, herbal nose drops, therapeutic massage, Reiki and other energy work, or panchakarma treatments to release energy blocks and stimulate the release of toxins throughout the body. These help to loosen and release deeply embedded impurities in the tissues and imbalances outside of the digestive tract, leading to improved lymphatic drainage, energy levels, emotional balance and mental clarity.
Ultimately, a cleanse helps clear the channels of your body that deliver nutrients to the cells. You should feel lighter, healthier and have increased energy. Trust and honor your body as you go through the process.