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Slow down for self-care
An Ayurvedic cleanse can help you reboot your body and ease into Autumn


September  2016

The first time I tried an Ayurvedic cleanse I followed a program outlined in a magazine, but the many facets of the cleanse were overwhelming and so was the time commitment three weeks. The plan required that I eat kitchari, made with mung beans, rice, vegetables, spices and ghee (clarified butter), at every meal, so on my first day I doubled a recipe for a large batch. Unfortunately, the vegetables turned mushy, leaving me with a series of meals that were, if not exactly disastrous, barely palatable.

While I wasnt able to stick to the strict regime the entire time, I made a weeklong effort that was good enough to convince me to cleanse again.

This time, though, I sign up for a workshop led by a local Ayurvedic practitioner and a yoga teacher.

"Dont worry if you cant do everything. Just do the best you can," the co-leader tells us with a smile as she gives us our handouts for the one-week detoxification. And with that forgiving philosophy, I know I will feel more successful on my second cleanse.

Sometimes called the sister science of yoga, Ayurveda, like yoga, has roots in India and translates as "the science of life." Through diet, exercise, meditation, herbs and self-care practices, Ayurveda aims to balance body, mind and spirit to achieve vitality and well-being. Ayurvedic practitioners believe the changing of the seasons can affect this delicate balance and recommend cleansing as a way to ease the transition, especially in the spring and fall.

The workshop leaders say we may experience other benefits such as reduced stress, better concentration, improved digestion and weight loss though the last is really a by-product, not a goal. An Ayurvedic cleanse, much like other detoxes, intends to rid the body of toxins and, at the risk of making us sound like machines, reset the system.

Thats where all the healthy behaviors come in. Our leaders ask us to prepare meals using a stove rather than a microwave right before we eat them, and in my packet I find a different recipe for kitchari as well as oatmeal. Variety! Im thrilled. Not only do the leaders suggest that we slow down food prep but also the act of eating itself chewing mindfully and without distractions like reading a newspaper, for example.

In fact, slowing down is a theme of the cleanse. To that end, the leaders go over self-care practices to incorporate into our daily routine. After brushing our teeth, well scrape our tongues to remove the buildup of toxins there (which also helps to freshen breath). Well try oil pulling, which involves swishing around coconut or sesame oil in the mouth to further remove toxins. Well use a Neti pot to flush toxins out of the nose. Well brush our skin to stimulate the lymphatic system, and add self-massage, yoga postures (especially twists) and meditation to the morning ritual. And every night well take a bath to prepare the body for sleep.

As I flip through my packet, I wonder how much earlier Ill have to wake up.

Another workshop attendee raises her hand. "How long is all of this going to take?" she asks.

"I know it looks like a lot, but it really doesnt take that long," the co-leader assures us.

Thankfully, that turns out to be the case, and I notice how good it feels to really take my time, spending less of it on screens and more being in and enjoying the moment. Im also aware of the body-mind connection, of how caring for the body calms my mind.

I take a deep breath in and then exhale, knowing that even after this week is over Ill continue part of my self-care routine. m

Where to Go

I was grateful for my guides in my second Ayurvedic cleanse, and you will be too.

Here are local places where you can find similar support:

Abundant You Coaching will have two versions of its one-week cleanse: one with an hourlong instructional meeting and new this month a virtual option with unique video content. 240 Regency Court, Suite 201, Brookfield, (262) 389-5835,

Bodhi Ayurveda at Lakeside Centre will offer individual consultations and a customized two-week, at-home cleanse beginning in mid-September. Info sessions about the cleanse will be held Sept. 18. 10345 N. Port Washington Road, Suite 175, Mequon, (262) 893-1757,

Kanyakumari offers guidance with cleanses throughout the year and will host an informational workshop Sept. 14, which will cover daily cleansing rituals and seasonal options, including an at-home cleanse. 6789 N. Green Bay Ave., Glendale, (414) 755-2858,



This story ran in the September 2016 issue of: