Fasting the gentle way
The winter has been long and uncomfortable, with lots of gray, cold weather, making us long to cozy up at home with a hot cup of tea and a good book. From the Ayurvedic viewpoint, in particular the second half of winter is characterized by an increase of Kapha Dosha in the physiology. If unbalanced, this can manifest itself in various ways, like sluggishness, weight gain and an increased susceptibility to respiratory problems.
In cold temperatures, our body tries to adjust to the external conditions by ramping up the digestive fire (Agni). The aim is to produce more warmth and increase the metabolic activity, and this in turn tends to cause a desire for hearty dishes.
From a physiological point of view, this reaction makes perfect sense, because in order to prevent the Agni from attacking the body’s own tissues (Dhatus), our physiology needs nutritious, warming food. However, if meals are too heavy, too late or in unfavorable combinations, Agni’s capacity is exceeded and metabolic residue (Ama) is produced.
When our digestive fire is overwhelmed this way, the first symptom is a general feeling of indisposition, such as heaviness and fullness. In further stages, we see increased susceptibility to infection, which in winter often manifests in the form of colds or flu.
Factors contributing to a buildup of Kapha Dosha
If you feel that your airways are full of mucus and you cannot breathe freely, this is usually a sign of excess Kapha Dosha, more so if this condition persists over time and the mucus is viscous.
Too much Kapha Dosha can be the result of, in particular:
– frequent snacking between meals: taking food before the previous meal has been fully digested weakens Agni
– eating too much, especially sweets and pastries
– very heavy, fatty food
– excessive consumption of animal products or a meat-heavy diet
– taking food late in the evening
– food and drinks straight from the fridge or freezer
– daytime naps longer than 30 minutes
– too little exercise and activity in everyday life
– eating too much of food stuffs with a white color, such as cheese, yogurt and pasta.
If the above-mentioned points are long-standing habits, Ama accumulates in the body and causes discomfort. This phase often begins in the run-up to Christmas, when numerous festive occasions bring ever more indulgences, until they are no longer exceptions in an otherwise healthy lifestyle, but habits that are difficult to shake off in the new year.
But at the latest when spring approaches, many people feel the need to unburden and perhaps also to say goodbye to a few winter pounds.
Signs of Ama buildup
In Ayurveda, Ama is defined as that which is undigested, i.e. metabolic residue that cannot be immediately eliminated. Some Ama, both on the physical and mental level, is naturally produced at all times and doesn’t have to be a problem, as long as the creation and elimination are balanced. But if the breakdown cannot keep up with the production, Ama accumulates over time, leading to the following symptoms:
– fatigue and sluggishness
– poorer quality of sleep, not providing enough restoration.
– more frequent feelings of pressure in the head
– a sense that the mind isn’t clear
– accumulation of mucus in the respiratory tract area
– joint pain and morning stiffness
– feeling bloated and nauseous
– slow digestion
– thick coating of the tongue and/or lateral dental impressions
– water retention in the legs and face
If you recognize yourself in these described symptoms, at least to some extent, then a period of gentle Ayurvedic fasting could be just the thing for you at this time to regain levity and prevent illness!
Detoxing at home without stress
If you want to gently unburden your body and mind at home, you don’t necessarily have to take a vacation. Usually, this is also possible while working – although it makes sense to choose a time that is somewhat quieter overall and during which you have as few appointments as possible.
Some cleansing regimens prescribe abstaining from food altogether, but Ayurveda just recommends a specific light diet. Not eating at all would increase Vata Dosha, which is too high already in many people these days. Moreover, it would reduce the digestive power just when it’s needed for burning Ama.
In order to avoid these unfavorable side effects, Ayurveda recommends the following gentle detoxification cure for profound elimination of water-soluble residues from the body.
Please note that you should only do this at home, without medical guidance, when you feel generally stable and healthy. If you have an active medical condition, the cure may be too strenuous.
If you are not sure whether an Ama cure is recommended for you at this moment, please call us for a short consultation under the following phone number: +49 2603 9407-0.
Practical points for your Ama cure
– The cure should be continued for at least seven to ten days.
– During the cure, fried, roasted, very sour or sweet foods are to be avoided, as well as animal products, alcohol, coffee, sweets and pastries.
– Half an hour before breakfast, drink water with lemon and honey. This is the juice from half a lemon and a spoonful of unheated honey mixed into a glass of lukewarm water (max. 40 °C).
– Breakfast: If you are hungry, drink freshly pressed fruit juice or vegetable juice.
– Lunch: Have a light, freshly prepared meal with plenty of vegetables. Dal is easy to digest, yet provides nourishing vegetable proteins. Eat your fill, but pay attention to the subtle sign of your satiety point and don’t eat past it.
– Dinner: As in the morning, Ayurveda recommends freshly pressed juice from fruits or vegetables, but also liquid soups from grain, rice, or vegetables. It is best to eat before 6 p.m.
– Snacking: If hunger pinches, feel free to have another fresh juice. However, a healthy feeling of hunger doesn’t do any harm, on the contrary. If you can do it comfortably, forgo the snacks. Your body will thank you for it and break down even more Ama.
– Hot water: Throughout the day, drink hot water that has been boiled for 10 minutes. Boil it in the morning and keep it in a thermos. Drink it as hot as is comfortable, in small sips, about a half to a full cup each time. Hot water is the decisive factor for the success of your cure. It penetrates the body’s cells, binds to water-soluble toxins and effectively eliminates Ama.
– But: don’t drink water during half an hour before and one and a half hours after meals. It dilutes the digestive juices, meaning that your food will be digested less thoroughly.
– Get plenty of fresh air during this time and take brisk walks of at least half an hour. However, avoid physical exertion such as demanding cardio or strength training.
– Go to bed before 10 p.m. and make sure that you can sleep off.
After this cure of gentle cleansing and elimination of toxins, you will feel like newborn, ready to welcome the spring with vitality and vigor.
At that point, it is especially important not to slip back into old patterns, but to slowly build up your diet in order to give the digestive fire a chance to adjust.
Such a cure is a great opportunity for leaving old habits behind and integrating more healthy routines into your daily life.
In particular, the intestines and the microbiome adapt quickly to a change in diet, which means that cravings are markedly reduced after a cure. Make good use of this chance to break out of old patterns – and let us know in the comments how you fared and what changes you noticed. We wish you much success!
Of course, for a particularly deep purification including non-water-soluble toxins, we recommend a traditional Panchakarma course of treatment. In Bad Ems, you can experience a cure completely tailored to your wishes and needs, under medical supervision and with specially trained therapists, so that the benefits for your health are really maximum. If you have questions, please call us on +49 2603 9407-0 or write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Fasting the gentle way
© Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center Bad Ems
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