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How do I know if I need to cleanse?

We can often recognise when our body needs some cleansing support as we usually start to feel tired and run-down. We might also notice our digestion is a bit sluggish and our skin congested.

Feeling ‘clogged up’ can also affect our emotional state – we might hold onto negative issues, instead of letting them go. Cleansing on all levels is central to being healthy.

How do you get ready for a cleanse?

It’s best to ease into it gently, especially if you’ve never attempted cleansing before, otherwise you’ll likely end up exhausting yourself and potentially doing more harm than good.

To make the most of cleansing you need to be feeling well-rested. Don’t attempt it if your body is already going through changes, such as when you are pregnant or menstruating or perhaps if you are recovering from illness.

Here are some top tips to help you prepare:

  • Pick a time where you know you will get a chance to relax. When you cleanse, your body needs time to do its thing. This requires energy, so it’s best to keep vigorous exercise to a minimum and get a few more early nights

  • Cleansing will involve a change in eating and drinking habits, so make sure you will not be in situations where you may be tempted or pressured to drink alcohol or coffee, or eat inappropriate foods.

  • Pick a duration that suits you. If you’ve never tried a cleanse before, then perhaps opt for a weekend or two to three days to begin with. If you are a seasoned cleanser, you might consider a longer period such as a week.

  • Once you’ve picked the right time, you can start to prepare and identify the type of cleanse that will work best for you.

Choosing the right type of cleanse for you

In Ayurveda (the ancient Indian system of medicine), there are three different doshas (or body types), vata,pitta and kapha. Each benefits from cleansing in different ways.

If you have never undergone a cleanse before and are not sure which dosha might be your most dominant, then try this simple daily routine to begin with and then move onto a dosha specific cleanse the next time round:

In the morning

A good time to wake is before 7am. Later can cause you to feel low in energy.

Start the day with a cup of warm/hot water with a slice of lemon to stimulate the digestive juices and rehydrate. Before breakfast, take trifala with a little  Aloevera juice  to support your body throughout the rest of the day.

A good morning practice to enliven the senses and the mind before tackling the day ahead is meditation. This ancient practice can take many forms though it is generally necessary to have at least 5 to 20 minutes to experience an effect. Meditation can be done in many different ways, beyond seated, including while walking. Enjoying a cup of tea as part of a meditation ritual has also been practiced in many traditional cultures throughout history and still present today.

Try some guided mediation to help support you at various moments throughout the day. Awaken your senses in the morning with an energising yoga schedule.

Your lunchtime ritual

The after-lunch slump is a common occurrence. Getting back in touch with nature for just 15-20 minutes can help get the blood flowing and oxygen circulating again whilst also helping you digest your food.

Whether it’s a brisk walk round the block, or sitting on a bench in the local park, the key is to reconnect with your environment and inhale some fresh air.

The best time to eat your lunch is different for everyone, but try to wait four hours from your last full meal and only eat if you feel hungry. Try making a digestion-kindling meal such as khichdi or ‘food of the gods’ as it’s also known.

If you get peckish in the afternoon, go for something that provides slow-release energy, like oatcakes , a handful of nuts, or even rye bread with a spread of honey if you have a real need something sweet.

Make sure you also keep hydrated and stick to warming, spicy warm/hot decoctions.

In the evening

The key is not to overeat in the evenings; try and keep it light. A dhal is a great option as it’s light but filling and full of protein.

Use evening rituals like self-massage or yoga nidra to help you wind down. For self-massage, use a warmed oil if possible. Try a simple organic sesame oil or castrol oil .Massage the oil into the entire body, working it deeply into the skin.

You can also add an essential oil to your sesame or castor oil that suits your dosha, apply to your wrists, neck, throat and ‘third eye’.

What herbs will benefit me during a cleanse?

Some herbs which can be helpful for all doshas are:

  • Nettle – a nutritious plant filled with vitamins, minerals and protein. Nettle is great at ridding the body of excess waste, making it ideal for to a ‘spring-clean’. Skin conditions and seasonal allergies are helped by this plant, thanks to its cleansing effect on the blood.

  • Fennel –  with its strong anti-inflammatory properties, it soothes an upset digestive system and clears toxins.

  • Turmeric – one of the all-time great liver-loving herbs. This renowned super-spice helps your liver work more efficiently also giving your skin a glow of health.

  • Dandelion – a traditional remedy for treating the skin and supporting liver.

  • Aniseed – this sweet aromatic seed naturally relaxes and supports digestion.

  • Spirulina – an algae and complete protein, containing every amino acid (helps to build up cells, muscles and tissue) and is the only non-animal source of vitamin B12.

  • Chlorella – it’s reputed for alkalising and cleansing the blood and supporting immunity.

Other positive ways to support your cleanse

For the super keen, there are a few extra things you could do to enhance your cleanse. Introducing a light yoga routine or meditation in the morning or evening will help the body to relax. You could also visit a steam room or sauna, to encourage a bit of extra sweating and help excrete those extra toxins.

And here are some thoughts on what to avoid:

Processed, refined foods, or foods with a high sugar or fat content. These are difficult for the body to break down, putting added strain on digestion. Dairy and meat are also harder for the body to digest, so you might want to consider going veggie and/or dairy free.

Highly caffeinated or sugary drinks. These will cause a rise in blood sugar followed by energy crashes, which will disrupt your body’s natural balance.

Alcohol is processed in the liver, which is where detoxification occurs. Therefore, drinking places added pressure on the liver, so will not support an efficient cleanse.

Digital overload – cleansing isn’t just about what we eat and drink. Too much exposure to social media and technology can have a negative effect on our stress levels and sleep, so it might be worth incorporating a digital detox to get the best from your cleanse.

The key message to take away is to take it easy and adopt a routine that will work for you. We are all individuals and will benefit from different types of cleansing routines. By choosing the right routine, you can really feel the benefit of cleansing the Ayurvedic way, and come out the other side feeling revived and rejuvenated.

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