After months of disrupted routines and spending more time working from home, most of us have developed less than optimal health habits! These days, feeling lousy has almost become the norm. Too many of us are giving up on the possibility of ever feeling our best again.
Ayurveda literally means “the knowledge of life”, and it teaches us how to realign to the rhythms of nature, how to create more balance, joy and ease in our body, mind, and spirit, and how to live life in the best possible way.
As a system of healing, Ayurveda honors the uniqueness of the individual while helping each of us create an ever-improving sense of wellbeing and harmony in our lives.
Ayurveda doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all solution—no silver bullet to heal one and all. Instead, it teaches us how to better align with our truest inner nature and to reinvigorate our own innate intelligence in order to guide a very gentle and authentic healing process.
In Ayurveda, seasonal transitions reflect an inner sense of transition, when our bodies are ready for a reset.
Completing a gentle cleanse gives the body a break, allowing it to slow down, recuperate, and repair itself while creating the potential for improved energy, strength, and a healthy immune system.
While this style of cleanse is workable at any time of year, it’s the most beneficial at the turning of the seasons, particularly at the time of the Autumn & Spring Equinox. The length of this cleanse is entirely up to you (3-21 days), however I’ve found that 7 days is all you need to reset your whole system.
The practice of cleansing is considered a vital part of an Ayurvedic lifestyle. It provides an important means of clearing accumulated waste and toxicity from the mind and the tissues, encouraging optimal health.
These days, periodic cleansing is more vital to our health than ever before. Our bodies are being asked to process a seemingly endless barrage of harmful inputs such as environmental toxins, processed foods, unresolved emotions, and psychological stress.
Over time, these stressors can cause toxicity to build up in the system, deposit in the tissues, and compromise our health. A periodic cleanse helps to clear these accumulations from the body.
This particular cleanse is based on eating a monodiet of whole grains and kitchari, drinking plenty of detoxifying fluids, and taking Triphala in the evening to support digestion, elimination, and the body’s natural detoxification processes.
This regimen supports the physiology by slowing the flood of harmful inputs and by providing the body with an important opportunity to rest, recuperate, and repair itself.
A simple 7 day cleanse can help:
The foods ingested during this cleanse are very easy to digest and therefore help to improve the strength of agni (the metabolic fire)—which is essential to optimal health.
While this gentle cleanse is beneficial to most people, cleansing is not recommended during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or if you’re feeling extremely weak or debilitated at the moment.
Ayurveda asserts that there is one thing that influences our health more than any other: our metabolic fire, or agni, in Sanskrit. Agni drives all processes of physiological transformation.
Needless to say, when agni is impaired, our overall health suffers—sometimes in very overt and uncomfortable ways, other times, on much more subtle levels.
The point is that tending to and supporting the health of agni can be a simple catalyst for improving overall health. And while there are many ways to support agni, a cleanse is one of the most straightforward and effective means available.
Done correctly, a cleanse strengthens agni throughout the system and helps eliminate toxicity. It initiates a powerful process of renewal and healing on many levels.
The more you can simplify your schedule for the 7 day of your cleanse, the better. More importantly, pick a time when you can minimize your exposure to stress.
You’ll also want to avoid any social engagements that would make it difficult to maintain the simple diet prescribed below.
In general, eliminate any unnecessary commitments and give yourself as much unstructured time to rest as possible.
Put your cleanse on the calendar and plan to gather the necessary ingredients and supplies ahead of time.
Reduce or eliminate caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, processed food, meat, sweets and wheat in the days leading up to your cleanse.
You might also consider inviting a friend to join you in the cleanse, or asking for the support of close friends or family members to help encourage you through the process.
During the 7 day cleanse, you’ll be eating a simplified diet of oatmeal and kitchari. This diet is substantive enough that you can maintain your essential responsibilities while resetting the digestive system, supporting the elimination of toxins, and balancing vata, pitta, and kapha.
Freshly prepared foods are best, so you’ll want to cook your oatmeal, kitchari, and teas fresh each day, at whatever time works best with your schedule.
Avoid eating leftovers and consider preparing all of your food for the day in the morning, if that works for you.
For the first meal of the day, choose between eating kitchari or simple oatmeal.
Lunch and Dinner
For the other two meals of the day, eat kitchari. You can add a little melted ghee, fresh coriander chutney, and sesame seed chutney to ensure that your system stays well-lubricated and that you continue to enjoy all six tastes in your diet.
If the monodiet of Kitchari is causing a sense of deprivation, try steaming your vegetables and serving them as a separate side dish, garnished with a little melted ghee, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Or, have a side of 1/2 avocado with lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt.
View The 7 Daily Radiance Rituals for an outline of daily practices to include.
Wake Up Early. Rise early enough to give yourself a spacious and relaxed morning.
Drink Hot Water. Sip 8–16 ounces of hot water to cleanse the system and to awaken the digestive capacity.
Eliminate, give yourself time to have a bowel movement in the morning.
Scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper and brush your teeth.
Do some gentle exercise. Slow, gentle movements will support cleansing. Consider walking, pilates or gentle yoga This is not a time to push yourself physically.
Meditate. Sit for a few moments of quiet after your movement practice. Begin with 2 minutes and gradually increase the length of your meditation practice.
Oil your skin with a light self-oil massage (almond or sesame oil).
Take a Bath or Shower.
Prepare Food and Teas. After that, you’ll want to have plenty of time to prepare your breakfast, kitchari, and teas for the day without undue stress.
Eat at consistent times. If possible, have breakfast between 7–8 a.m., lunch between 12–1 p.m., and dinner between 5–6 p.m. Allow at least three hours between meals, and eat enough at each meal to feel satisfied without overeating.
Eat Dinner Early. Try not to eat after 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. at the latest.
Avoid Snacking Between Meals. If you need a little something extra, you can enjoy some fresh fruit or a few raw nuts.
Stay Hydrated. Drink at least 8–12 cups of room temperature, warm, or hot fluids each day to ensure adequate hydration and to help flush toxins from the system. Ideally, most of your fluids should be taken between meals. Appropriate fluids include water & decaffeinated teas. Drink as much of any of these as you like.
Minimize screen time in the evening, aim to be off all devices 1 hour before bed.
Take Triphala. About a half hour before bed, steep 1/2 teaspoon Triphala powder in a cup of freshly boiled water for ten minutes. Cool and drink. Or, take two Triphala tablets with a glass of warm water.
Aim to be in bed by 10 p.m. Sleep is the body’s best time to detox so be sure to get plenty of rest throughout the cleanse.
After you complete this simple 7 day cleanse, your body may continue to process toxicity for a few days. And, your digestive system will have become accustomed to a very clean diet; you may even be somewhat sensitive to overly stimulating or processed foods.
A slow transition back into your normal routine and a more diverse diet will help to preserve the benefits of your cleanse. For a couple of days afterward, eat primarily simple, whole foods, gradually diversifying your menu. This is not the time to celebrate with pizza and a beer!
Also, pay special attention to how you handle potentially aggravating foods like dairy, wheat, soy, and nightshades after your cleanse. Your body may have some new information to offer you about your relationship with specific foods.
While this cleansing model is short and simple, it can be quite powerful. According to Ayurveda, balanced agni is the key to optimal health and longevity. Our bodies are incredibly intelligent, and the 7 day cleanse gives them an important opportunity to strengthen agni.
So, while it may seem hard to believe, even a simple cleanse like this one can initiate dramatic improvements in the quality of your digestion and elimination, your cravings, your energy level, and your overall well-being.
As you wrap up the cleanse, take some time to reflect on your life so that you can move forward with whatever new intentions feel important to you. This is a potent time to cultivate a deeper level of inner awareness, to listen to your body, and to honor every aspect of your being as you transition out of the cleanse.
You might also take some time to appreciate your body for all the ways it serves and supports you. Remember too, that you’ve offered yourself a valuable gift with this cleanse—one that requires a certain level of discipline and commitment.
Congratulations on your accomplishment. I hope that it serves you in a multitude of gratifying ways!
Amounts recommended are approximate and may need to be adjusted according to your needs.
While you’ll probably have leftovers of any herbs you order for your cleanse, you can continue to take any of them after the cleanse to support further detoxification.
Triphala powder (1/2 ounce) or Triphala tablets (6 tablets)
Organic White Basmati Rice, (21 ounces)
Organic Yellow Mung Dal (12 ounces) (Note: organic yellow lentils may be substituted if mung beans are not accessible, however the mung beans are ideal!)
Organic Ghee, clarified butter—available at most health food stores (6 ounces)
Organic rolled oats (1 1/2 cup or 6 ounces)
Optional: raisins (3/4 cup or 4 1/2 ounces)
Apple, apricot, peach, or pear (1 1/2–3 cups)
Organic roasted sesame seeds (1 cup per batch of sesame seed chutney)
Black mustard seeds
Cilantro (1/4 pound per batch of fresh coriander chutney)
Cumin seeds, whole
Coconut, unsweetened and shredded
Ginger root, fresh
Mint, fresh, or dried peppermint
Natural mineral salt
Sweeteners: Barley malt or raw honey; turbinado sugar
Cardamom powder (for oatmeal)
Cayenne pepper (for sesame seed chutney)
Cinnamon powder (for oatmeal)
Ginger powder (for oatmeal)
Nutmeg (for oatmeal)