The changing of seasons signals a time of transition in weather patterns, exposure to natural light, and the foods we eat. While you may position cleansing as a spring activity in your mind, the beginning of autumn is a ripe time to reset your internal clock.
There are, however, important differences in the way you should approach a spring cleanse and an autumn cleanse, according to Ayurvedic theory.
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old natural healing modality based on creating balance in the body that can be traced back to the Vedic culture of India.
Where to Start: Discover Your Dosha
Ok, we know, sometimes personality tests can seem silly, but this one is aimed at uncovering what type of energy your hold in your body and how it affects the way your body processes nutrients and handles stress. There are three types of doshas – vatta, pitta, and kapha (click here to take the quiz). Here’s a quick overview:
VATA – the air and ether dosha, is focused on energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and your heartbeat.
- In balance: Creativity and vitality.
- Out of balance: Fear and anxiety.
PITTA – the fire and water dosha, is focused on energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body’s temperature.
- In balance: Contentment and intelligence.
- Out of balance: Ulcers and anger.
KAPHA – the earth and water dosha, is focused on energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system.
- In balance: Love and forgiveness.
- Out of balance: Insecurity and envy.
Once you discover your dosha, you can pinpoint the areas in which your body may be out of balance so you can focus on restoring stability during your cleanse.
As the Seasons Shift, Nourish the Body & Mind
While a spring cleanse focuses on simplifying the diet and energizing the body for more movement and activity in the months ahead, the purpose of an autumn cleanse is to nourish the body and soothe the soul in preparation for winter. The goal is to strengthen digestion and stimulate the metabolism.
So what’s the best diet to follow during a fall cleanse? One that helps clear “ama,” the toxins that result from incomplete digestion, out of your body. While processed, packaged, canned, and artificial foods build ama, fresh foods like vegetables, fruits, and spices help flush ama from the system. Focus on the following foods and principles:
- JUICES & SMOOTHIES spiked with spices like ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Try this recipe for an Apple Pie Smoothie with cinnamon and nutmeg, and naturally sweetened with dates.
- SOUPS & CURRIES packed with seasonal vegetables like zucchini, pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots, and dark leafy greens like kale and chard. Try this warming Pumpkin Chickpea Curry with curry paste, lemongrass and cardamom pods or this Hearty Minestrone Soup with Kale for a nutrient-dense take on an Italian favorite.
- KITCHARI, the traditional meal of the autumn cleanse, is loaded with health-boosting spices, easily digested vegetables, and basmati rice. Together, all the ingredients build a complete protein. Click here to check out Yoga Journal’s recipe for this healing stew.
- SUPPORTING YOUR DOSHA
While the general dietary rules above are great guidelines to follow for any autumn cleanse, you can get more specific by diving into the dietary choices that will support your dosha types. Click here for a detailed chart on personalized diets for balancing the kapha, pitta, and vata doshas.
- REDUCING STRESS
It’s also essential to slow down and reduce stress in order to receive the full benefits of an Ayurvedic cleanse. All summer, our energy and inner fire has been building up. As we move into cooler, calmer months, allow your schedule to simmer down, and bring your focus back to the basics – nourishment, stress-relief, and cultivating love.