I bet you are all wondering what Ayurveda has to do with detox and cleansing. I will let you in on a little secret. A special detoxing, cleansing regime whatever you want to call it, isn’t necessary if your body is already in balance. It isn’t necessary if your body is not constantly bombarded with chemicals, the wrong food in the wrong season, or food that’s been processed into oblivion. That’s right, I said it. If you are doing what you should do in the way you eat and in your environment then a special detox time simply isn’t needed. The one exception to the rule is the springtime cleanse that I recommend everyone do to “spring clean” their bodies from all the winter stodge. But I digress.
I call Ayurveda “intuitive health”, partly because it is so individualized, and partly because it makes sense that your body is a combination of three main doshas; vata, pitta, and kapha. Each person has a different balance. That balance is called your constitution. Each season governs a certain constitution and each season corresponds to a different constitution. Each climate may have a dominant dosha influence. For example late winter is a very kapha season, damp, cold, dull. Winter, in general, can also be very Vata provoking with dry winter air, dry heat from heaters, and cold wind. In the winter root vegetables, squash, chicory, leeks, dates, pineapple and many other bitter, sweet, or earthy vegetables meant to “root” you are in season. Vata doshas need rooting as they are very airy people. Winter provokes Vata in everyone, regardless of dosha so following a vata style diet interspersed with your normal dosha diet would help keep you in perfect balance all through the winter. It may be what keeps you from getting the flu going around the office that has kept everyone home sick for days.
I am a Vata-Pitta myself. More Vata than Pitta. I go on and on about raw foods, juices, smoothies and salads and I will keep on extolling the virtues of such diet forever…..until winter when I put away most of my raw foods and switch to warmth producing lightly cooked veggies. I know many of you raw foodies will be closing out about now but stick with me. If you are Kapha by nature,you live in Southern California, Florida, or Ecuador,raw food may very well get you through winter but for me, it sends my immune system into a tail spin. In the spring and summer, however, it is the only thing that gets me through 120° weather. This being August when the humidity outside is 90% but the air from the air conditioner is 2% I add a little more coconut or olive oil to my dishes but I still go raw and predominantly vegetarian if not vegan. In the winter, because it still doesn’t get that cold but the rain pours, I follow a predominantly Kapha style diet with warmth from Vata pacifying foods. In the Spring when it is unbearably windy, after a 7 day detox, it is a Vata pacifying diet that keeps me from succumbing to the rampant viruses that spread around the Gulf like a sirocco. Come summer, it’s back to a Pitta pacifying diet with lots of lovely summer veggies and fruits to keep me cool and balanced.
So how did I come to love Ayurveda? Long story short, the Bubonic Plague. I am not kidding even a little bit, beauties. I was travelling in Kerala, a region in India and I got the plague. For your information, a lot of people got the plague that year. Anyway, short story long, I was in a really remote area, sick as a dog, and the nearest hospital that wouldn’t kill me was about 6 hours away. One of our guides brought me to a man that was not younger than 150. Seriously, I was scared. He looked at my tongue, took my pulse, did a pretty thorough examination on me and immediately checked me in to what we’ll call a retreat. It’s funny, it’s now a 5 star proper yoga/Ayurveda retreat but back then….. I was scared.
This old man who turned out to be a flipping amazing doctor put me on a “diet” after proclaiming I was a Vata that had, somehow, aggravated the Kapha in me. Apparantly my Kapha was MAD! I was fed a pretty delicious vegetarian diet, put on special herbs, and massaged with oil six ways to Sunday several times a day. I was introduced to yoga. REAL yoga. They showed me how to meditate and the art of pranayama. I was given no antibiotics. I was, however, fed some of the most delicious chai I have ever had in my life with real raw cream. I didn’t even gain an ounce from all that food. The vomiting stopped within a day. The fever broke within two. I was still weak but within 5 days I was completely healed. It took my two travelling companions who insisted on that hospital six hours away a full 14 days to recover with conventional medicine. Six days in the hospital to boot. No massages, no yoga, and no chai! Let me tell you, I was hooked.
You may be wondering how Ayurveda fits into the multitude of diet theories on the market today. If you think about it, perfectly. It is adaptable when it comes to the seasons, encourages a whole foods diet based on those seasons and as local as possible, and prescribes an endless supply of fruits and vegetables to alkalize the body. It does not profess a one-size-fits-all prescription. For some people, raw, cold foods are perfect (For those same people perhaps not all year long, however). For others, lightly steamed veggies, a bit more grain, and plenty of protein. For some, wheat is a poison, while for others, the quinoa fad is one that is best left alone.
Ayurveda isn’t just a diet like all the other “diets” floating around the internet and local bookstore. It is a way of life that embraces your spiritual side, physical side, and mental side along with the changing seasons and climates. It is something that can be incorporated into any lifestyle seamlessly and without a lot of “bells and whistles”. It is about letting our bodies remember how our ancestors ate before drive-ins, before supermarkets, and before genetically modified tomatoes in December. It is about living life to the fullest, in health and balance.
Wishing you peace and balance,