According to Ayurvedic philosophy, "toxins" from undigested food and life experiences build up in the body and mind. You don't have to visit an Ayurvedic practitioner for a panchakarma cleanse every time you feel the need to rejuvenate the system. Working with Kripalu's Hilary Garivaltis, we came up with a one- to three-day at-home weekend detox program. The idea is to keep things simple to better tune in to yourself.
Dawn (or before): Perform morning ablutions
Think of it as cleansing the five senses. In addition to the standard Western routine of evacuating the bowels and bladder, washing the face, and brushing teeth, take care to wash the eyes and gently scrape the tongue. With a dropper, apply a few drops of sesame oil inside the nose. Then rub oil on the whole body to gird yourself for the rigors of the day.
6:30 a.m.-7 a.m. Sit by a window or outside, being present and silent, for up to 30 minutes, and greet the rising sun, connecting with its energy. Set your intentions for the day that's about to unfold. If you have a formal meditation practice, now's the time for it. Bring movement to the system by doing some stretching.
7 a.m. Prime your system with an 8-ounce glass of warm water and lemon juice, which helps flush wastes through the digestive system. Prepare the food you'll need for the day, the same food for each of your three meals. This is a monodiet with a simplicity that provides a kind of digestive vacation. The classic monodiet is kitchari (mung dal, rice, and an optional steamed vegetable). You can find recipes at benourished.net.
7:30 a.m. (or earlier, if you've gotten up well before dawn) Breakfast of kitchari and lots of hydrating (and toxin-flushing) warm herbal tea, such as ginger, without sweetener. Drink it throughout the day as well. Avoid caffeine, even green tea.
6 a.m.-10 a.m. Yes, even the hours of the day have doshas. This is kapha time, regarded as heavy, slow, and good for memory work. This may be the best time for journaling, taking stock of your life, and noting what things are working for you (relationships, job) and what may need to be shaken up.
The afternoons of your detox weekend are about winding down your day.
10 a.m.-2 p.m. This is pitta time, when the digestive fire burns brightest. Lunch, taken around noon, is the biggest meal. If the monotony of the food is too much, you can vary it slightly from day to day. Go to ayurveda.com for vegetable choices and dosha-specific spicing.
2 p.m.-6 p.m. At vata time, when the sun is shifting and energy is up, the body tends to be restless. Go outside and take in nature with a long, mindful walk. If you live in a city, go to the park.
Sunset Just like dawn, this is a propitious time to sit quietly and take in the (setting) sun. If you have a formal meditation practice, do it. Give thanks for the day, not focusing on dissatisfactions or things that need changing.
6 p.m.-10 p.m. It's back to heavier kapha time. Have an early dinner, around 6 p.m., and begin the winding-down process. Before bed, around 9 p.m., rub a little lavender massage oil on the soles of the feet and the crown of the head to calm the nervous system. If you're a milk drinker, have a glass of warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon, another natural relaxant.
At the conclusion of the weekend, think about how making these small Ayurvedic changes influenced you and which ones you might be able to incorporate into your daily life.