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Detoxification / Digestion / Sleep & Stress

How to Perform an Ayurvedic Body Cleanse

An Ayurvedic body cleanse is designed to improve your health and lengthen your life by removing ama, or toxic impurities from the body.  A body cleanse will also have the additional benefit of increasing energy levels while reducing negative thoughts and stress.

A herbal body cleanse can be advantageous for everyone, but it is especially beneficial as you get older, since your body develops a tendency to accumulate toxins and impurities. Our bodies were not designed to handle the long-term storage of impurities, which can oftentimes contribute to many health afflictions.

Chemicals in the air we breathe, in the food we eat and the products we come into contact with on a daily basis contribute to the amassing of impurities within the body. Improper breathing and digestion, too much stress, and a sedentary lifestyle also contribute. If the toxins are not removed on a regular basis through a body cleanse or an herbal body detox, then they can accumulate and wreak havoc on all bodily systems.

Toxic Overload

Ayurveda describes three distinct types of impurities or toxins. The first type is referred to as ama, or the build-up of sticky waste in the digestive system. It blocks the elimination channels of digestion and weakens the entire system.

If ama is not flushed out on a regular basis, it can permeate the digestive system and start to seep into the rest of the body. This can cause a host of afflictions and illnesses including weight gain, headaches, blemishes, and lethargy.

The second type of toxin is amavisha. It is a more reactive form of ama and occurs when ama is allowed to settle in throughout the body. As ama mixes with the subdoshas and other waste products, it creates amavisha.

The third type of toxicity, garavisha, is a result of what would be referred to as environmental toxins. Your body is constantly bombarded with toxins found in your environment every day. From the air you breathe, food you eat, skin products you use, and electromagnetic currents from today's technology, toxins are being introduced to the body at a far faster rate than they are being eliminated.

Basically, an environmental toxin is any toxin that is introduced from outside of the body. They could also include genetically-modified foods, preservatives, additives and other harmful ingredients. Other garavisha toxins include recreational drugs, synthetic clothing, chemicals used in making clothing or other fabrics, water and air pollution, chemicals in toiletry items and detergents, asbestos, lead, mercury, and arsenic.

Ama

Ama is a concept exclusive to Ayurveda and originates from material in the digestive system that was not digested properly and has become toxic. Ama blocks the channels of the body, including the capillaries, the lymphatic system, the arteries and veins, and the intestines.

The Five Basic Causes of Ama

Ayurvedic medicine believes that ama is the root cause of all disease. There are a number of ways in which ama can be created within the body; here are five of them.

Krimi Visha - Bacterial Toxins

When the body is afflicted by a bacterial infection, the bacteria release a toxin which can result in an accumulation of ama, if not taken care of immediately.

Agnimandya - Low Digestive Fire

Normal digestive fire is needed for the proper digestion and assimilation of food. When the doshas are thrown out of balance, the digestive fire can become too sluggish, slow and non-responsive. Once digestion slows down, the improperly digested food matter sits inside of the digestive system and becomes putrefied or fermented. This in turn causes the creation of ama in the body.

Dhatu-agnimandya - Low Tissue Fire

Tissue fire plays an integral role in processing the formation of new tissue derived from nutrition. When the power of tissue fire is decreased, tissue formation becomes incomplete and ama is created. In most types of low tissue fire there is also a correlation with low digestive fire.

Mala Sanchaya - Waste Product Accumulation

In Ayurveda, Agni is the energy responsible for transforming nutritional substances into tissue. In the beginning stages, Agni produces the nutritional substance and then converts it into body tissue during the second stage. It is at this point that the tissue fire is fuelled by Agni, as the tissue fire's anabolic activity. This process produces tissue, which then can be utilized for releasing the energy needed to propel every activity the body completes.

At the same time the anabolic activity is occurring, there is also catabolic activity as well. As new tissue is being formulated, old tissue is broken down, disintegrated and digested as the body tries to eliminate it. If any of the processes are disrupted, then the broken down old tissue has no way of being released and builds up in the body and causes an accumulation of ama.

Dosha Sammurcchana - Vitiated Doshas, Interaction and Amalgamation

Each dosha has qualities specific to that dosha. Most people are predominately one type of dosha: Vata, Pitta or Kappa. Each quality of one dosha will be antagonistic of another dosha. When the dosha are maintained properly, the body can maintain balance. However, if a dosha is thrown off balance, it can be amalgamated with another dosha. This can throw every bodily system off and decrease their functions. The longer the doshas are off balance, the more the doshas become vitiated, and the more ama is produced and accumulates.

Cleansing Techniques for an Ayurvedic Body Cleanse

An Ayurvedic body cleanse generally has three parts and will last several weeks.

Purva Karma

The preparation phase, or Purva Karma, is the first stage and prepares the body for an herbal body detox. Without preparation, cleanses can be hard on the body's organs—especially the liver and kidney, as they are inundated with an overload of toxins. An Ayurvedic body cleanse is designed to renew not only your body, but your mind as well, so the preparation stage focuses on changing not only the diet, but your routine as well.

You should begin about three weeks prior to the main stage of the body cleanse. Start by eliminating all sweets, dairy products and stimulants such as caffeine. If you are a smoker, this is an excellent time to quit. The cravings and adjustment period are shortened as the body removes the harmful poisons in the body from smoking during the body cleanse.

One week before the body cleanse, start to transition to a diet predominantly made of vegetables and whole grains. One excellent recipe to use during the Purva Karma phase is Khichadi. Khichadi is essentially beans, brown rice, vegetables and onions stewed with garlic and ginger. It is healthy, filling and prepares the body for cleansing. Preparation of the mind is just as important as preparing the body. Your daily routine should be shortened and activities lightened to increase time for meditation or prayer, alone time and walks out in nature.

Pancha Karma

The second stage is known as the cleansing stage, or Pancha Karma. There are three practices comprising the cleansing phase: laxatives, enemas and cleansing. Laxatives should be herbal-based, not the store-bought or commercial variety. Enemas have long been used to cleanse toxins from the body and help to restore the proper function of the colon, large and small intestines and other key components of the digestive system.

The cleansing part is more specific and includes drinking a special recipe throughout the day. Start by boiling 6 cups of water, slowly add in 3 teaspoons cumin, 3 teaspoons coriander powder, 6 cardamom pods, 3 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds, 2 slices fresh ginger and 2 pinches black pepper. Stir well after each addition and boil for five minutes. Let it set for fifteen minutes before straining and drinking. A new batch should be made fresh each morning.

This cleansing drink can be taken throughout the day and can be done for several days. It is important to supplement your diet during this stage with minerals and vitamins in order to maintain the correct balance in the body. It is also vital to continue walking in nature, meditating, and performing deep breathing exercises such as pranayama.

Rejuvenation

The rejuvenation phase is the last stage of the body cleanse, and lasts for about a week. This stage breaks your fast and begins to re-introduce the simple diet you practiced during phase one. The focus should be on eating healthy whole grains, whole vegetables and plenty of water.

Meditation, prayer and private time are one of the most important aspects of the rejuvenation phase. Your body has cleared itself of toxins during the cleansing stage and has begun to heal itself. The mind needs the proper tools in order to achieve the same level of healing. Meditation or prayer reduces stress and puts the mind into a state of relaxation and calm which banishes negative and harmful emotions, thoughts and feelings.

Pranayama

Pranayama is the art of controlled breathing. It is an essential part of an Ayurvedic lifestyle. There are several types of pranayama and each one may take time to learn properly, but they are extremely beneficial to the body and mind once mastered. Breathing is one of the most vital and primal functions of life, yet most people do not breathe properly. If you are a beginner to pranayama, it can be helpful to be guided by one experienced in the art of breath control to avoid over-breathing or hyperventilation.

Beneficial Herbs for an Herbal Body Detox

There are numerous herbs that are highly beneficial to the body when taken on a daily basis. There are also other herbs that should only be taken for a limited time and for a specific purpose. It is always advisable to seek out an expert and knowledgeable Ayurveda practitioner before undergoing a new regime if you are unfamiliar with the herbs you are taking or have an existing medical condition.

Shatavari

Shatavari is a rejuvenating herb often used in Ayurveda. Shatavari originates in India and is from the same family as asparagus. It has cooling, rejuvenating, healing and soothing properties, and is helpful for a mind and body that is overheated, overwhelmed and out of balance.

Bhumyamalaki

Bhumyamalaki is a bitter herb used by Ayurvedic practitioners to detoxify the body's systems and organs, especially the liver. Not only does it strengthen and detoxify the body, it also restores the liver's proper function. It can also soothe and cool an inflamed and damaged intestinal tract.

Amalaki

The fruit of the Amalaki tree is a natural antioxidant, and can restore, rejuvenate and detoxify the body. Traditionally, it is used in the restoration and strengthening of the digestive system.

Maharishi Ayurveda has a full line of herbal body detox products designed to help cleanse the body and heal the damage caused by ama.

Digest Tone

Digest Tone is a powerful tonic designed to balance digestion, improve elimination and purifies the system with a mild laxative effect. When used gently, over a long period of time, it can pull toxins from the deepest cells within the tissues and organs.

GeniTrac

GeniTrac helps to purify and cleanse the entire genitourinary tract. It was designed to help flush away accumulated ama in order to restore the health and effectiveness of the kidneys, bladder, and urethra.

Bio-Immune

Bio-Immune is a carefully constructed herbal formula that takes six months to ready. Each element was carefully selected and balanced with other ingredients to give you one of the best formulas for naturally supporting the immune system. Bio-Immune also assists in eliminating impurities and toxins that can have a detrimental effect on the immune system. Bio-Immune supports the body in many ways: it aids and supports the liver, purifies the blood, improves the body's resistance to stress, and aids in the metabolism and assimilation of nutrients.

Radiant Skin

Radiant Skin is an herbal formula that works from the inside out to restore and rejuvenate all the cells in your body and your skin. Radiant Skin also helps strengthen liver function, improve skin glow and temperature, and powers the digestive fire, resulting in less amavisha.

Spring is an excellent time to undergo an annual deep body cleanse to rid the body of accumulated ama, restore your health and vitality, and rejuvenate your body and mind. Once you undergo the body cleanse, try to stay with an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle which will keep you happy, healthy and balanced.


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