As the summer season begins to merge into fall (cooler nights, shorter days, crops drying out), it’s time to consider a seasonal rebalancing program. The change of season is a traditional time in Ayurveda for a few days of resetting the bio-program for the coming change.
During the summer, with its long days of warm (even hot) weather, pitta dosha (the heat factor) accumulates in the body. When this excess is not released, it can cause flare-ups and heat-related disorders in the drier airs of fall. If we take a few days to rebalance the system with a modified diet, a cleansing routine and added quiet times, we can ensure that the body is ready for the seasonal changes to come.
Below are some suggestions for a seasonal cleanse that you can do in the privacy of your own home. Try for 3-4 days if you can arrange it; even 1-2 days on this regimen will allow your system a well-deserved rest after summer’s labors (or the excesses of vacation)!
- Drink 2-3 glasses of warm water as soon after rising as possible. This helps the urinary system flush accumulated toxins and aids in elimination. Blood cleanser herbs (such as burdock and dandelion roots) can be taken during the day.
- Practice the Four Purification breathing exercises as part of your morning routine. Based on the Shat Karma practices in the yoga system, this pranayama series help purify as well as strengthen the seats of all three doshas in the body: the lungs, the stomach & liver, and the intestines. (See the Ashtanga Yoga Primer, pp. 19-20 for details.)
- Before bathing and breakfast, give yourself a gentle massage with sesame oil (or sunflower/coconut if it’s especially hot). Use long smooth strokes (except for the joints which can be massage briskly in a circular fashion). Even if you can’t manage to massage the whole body, try for at least the face, arms and legs. This stimulates elimination through the skin, as well as nourishing the whole body with healthy oils.
- Base your daily diet solely on kitchari (a balanced rice & bean mixture cooked with digestive spices). Make a pot for the day, adding vegetables as desires. Recipes are available on the Salt Spring Centre blog, in the Salt Spring Island Cooking (p. 108) and in the Salt Spring Experience (p. 42). And be sure to drink plenty of warm water throughout the day.
- Exercise is essential to encourage the circulation and release of anything that no longer serves our higher self. Walking in nature with awareness and gentle restorative asana practice are appropriate forms of exercise during this time of rebalancing.
- During the day, take a break for at least an hour of quiet alone time for rest and relaxation. You may like to do some spiritual reading. Let all the day’s concerns drift away, allowing you to relax and renew as deeply as possible. Think positive thoughts and see the beauty within and without.
- About ½ hour before bed, mix ½ – 1 teaspoon of triphala in warm water, let stand for a few minutes and drink quickly. Triphala is a combination of three fruits, which acts as a tonic for the intestines, as well as an aid to elimination. If you find the stool too soft or loose next morning, cut back a bit on the amount for your next dose.
Focusing on a cleansing routine for a few days can help restore your mental and physical balance, bringing clarity to the mind and joy to the heart. Try it all, or only the parts that fit for you. And may your days be happy, healthy, and holy!
Pratibha Queen is a yoga instructor and Ayurvedic practitioner, who attends Salt Spring Center of Yoga retreats on a regular basis. Feel free to email with any questions that arise as you engage in health practices to support your yoga practice: firstname.lastname@example.org.