We had our annual Spring Detox Workshop on Sunday, the day of the Spring Equinox, which is always a joyful way to begin the season. It is like a celebration of emergence ~ from the darkness of winter, from the deep interior, from the cave of the heart ~ into a world of light, to a communal dance in a human garden of blossoming radiance.
After circulating, stretching, compressing and twisting the body for two hours we settled into a deep restorative Yoga Nidra to extend the detoxification to mind and heart. By the end, thirty of us committed to keeping our minds pure by keeping the television off, and to keeping the heart alive by spending more time in nature.
We also committed to the annual Spring Detox 21 Day Challenge, which I have posted here. It is a simple plan for eating clean, natural, seasonal foods that help the body eliminate winter’s accumulation. We love company so if you would like to join us, please do. Just click the “Like” button below, or email me to let us know you are in.
Lately, with all the health-store, take-home boxes of Detox, many people tell me they are following a plan they bought. While I am sure that is helpful, I want to remind you that it can be easier. Spring is the time for internal cleansing. Nature knows that, and so provides at this time all the foods that best support detoxification. If you eat the harvest from your own, your neighbor’s, or your local farmer’s garden, you will naturally have a comfortable, nourishing cleanse.
It is hard to make money off that simple, potent truth, so it is not advertised. But liberating ourselves from commercially driven habits makes this Detox all the more empowering, and helps cleanse the mind and our beliefs, which is the beginning point for all true, enduring health.
So, let your food be your medicine. Allow nature to take care of you. After all, you are nature. Eating according to nature’s seasonal bounty stimulates the natural intelligence in you to adapt, heal, nourish, cleanse, revitalize and really come alive in this season of joy.
The 21 Day Challenge
Before you begin ~ it is always best to consult with an Ayurvedic professional to tailor your diet to your particular constitution. If you have a chronic illness, are very thin, or feel depleted, please consult your health-care professional before beginning any cleanse.
Drink warm water with fresh squeezed lemon juice first thing in the morning and throughout the day to increase cellular detoxification.
Eat fresh nourishing foods, including whole grains, beans and vegetables lightly cooked with small amounts of healthy oils such as olive oil, safflower oil, or ghee.
To stoke your digestive fire, sip ginger tea with your meals and spice your food with warm pungent herbs such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, basil, oregano, pepper, and chilies.
Check out your local Farmer’s Market to see what is in season now. This is a great time to explore the immense variety of Spring vegetables and learn delicious ways they can be prepared.
While at the Market, load up on everything green as Spring Greens are the most detoxifying of foods. Greens are bitter, astringent and, those that ripen in Spring are often fiery, pungent. They are easy and quick to cook and colorfully complement a bowl of beans for a slimming, yet strengthening, protein-packed, power lunch.
Include grains with your meals but lighten up with cereals like barley, millet (as in couscous), buckwheat groats, rye and quinoa. Barley is an excellent cleanser of the digestive system and urinary tract. Buckwheat is considered a “light grain,” but is actually a fruit, with more protein than any of the other “grains.”
A piece of fruit, warmed or at room temperature, makes a great snack. The citrus fruits now in season have enough sour taste to stoke the metabolic fires, while their bitter peel are loaded with anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory zest. You can grate the rind and whisk it into salad dressings or sprinkle over cooked greens.
Be sure to eat fruit on its own – one type at a time, an hour away from meals. Otherwise it ferments in the gut, jamming digestion and increasing the toxic load. On the other hand, cooked fruit, such as a Spiced Citrus Compote that marries the fruits of Spring, is easy on digestion, and even stimulates elimination in the morning. Cooking fresh fruit into your grains for breakfast, with a dash of cinnamon or cardamom, is a powerful, and delicious, way to start the day.
Avoid meat, sugar, fried, processed, canned, frozen and microwaved foods. Reduce your intake of dairy products and heavy grains such as wheat, oats, rice. These foods decrease the metabolic fire, slow digestion and clog the circulatory channels.
Aloe Juice: Aloe encourages elimination so drink half a glass first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. It is a great Spring tonic for its deep tissue cleanse, liver support and cellular rejuvenation.
Tulsi: For congestion, heaviness, brain fog and the like, drink a cup of warm Tulsi Tea every day. I love Organic India not only for the quality of their teas, but also for the integrity and charitable nature of the company.
Dandelion: For liver detoxification drink Detox Tea in the evenings. I love this tea for its copious amounts of dandelion root and other bitter herbs that somehow still tastes sweet, not to mention comforting.
Triphala: Triphala reduces Ama in the body restoring balance and optimal physiology. Because it strengthens the colon it is often used to encourage regularity. Take 2 tablets in the evening before bed. If there is Ama, Triphala can give detox reactions, in which case, reduce to one tablet only for a week and then resume the two daily.
21 Day Challenge Meal Suggestions
These are just ideas, not a fixed menu. Be playful. Work with what you find at the market. Get creative with color, texture, tastes and spices. Dance in the kitchen. Love your food. It tastes better that way.
A porridge made of a light grain such as quinoa, buckwheat or barley. I love Bob’s Red Mill for warm breakfast cereals. This recipe on their website for Barley Hash looks great and has all the perfect ingredients for a Spring season start to the day.
Home-made Chapati with wheat and barley flour, topped with honey and cinnamon.
1/2 cup of granola with warm milk.
A Feast of Seasonal Greens, like asparagus, artichokes, mustard greens, avocado, and sprouts of every kind, with seasonal color like radishes.
A gorgeous medley of steamed, stewed or sautéed vegetables with tofu or paneer and a light grain such as quinoa.
A plate of Beans and Greens, such as Pinto Beans with Kale.
Barley Soup, Miso Soup, Green Vegetable Soup, Lentil and Spinach Soup, Whole Bean Chile, Kichari
Puffed rice, rice cakes with honey and cinnamon, collard greens rolled with hummus & red pepper, a piece of fresh fruit, sprouted bread toasted with honey and cinnamon, a small handful of seeds (sunflower or pumpkin), popcorn.
Evening: “Detox” or Tulsi Tea.
While Spring Cleaning, focus on what is positive in your life. Raise yourself up, feed your mind, elevate your spirit with inspiring activities, and allow yourself to enjoy the changes. Don’t forget you have amazing power. Allow yourself to rise up and blossom this Springtime. Radiate your Beauty. Let yourself shine!
My next “Ayurvedic Nutrition and Cooking Class,” on April 3rd, is devoted to Detoxification. You will find all the information here ~ Spring Detox: A Class on Ayurvedic Nutrition & Cooking
I LOVE this post ~ a celebration in every sense of word and every sense of the body! I’d just love, love to take this upcoming cooking class! Is there space?
Lots of love,
PS – I’m in on the 21-day challenge!
I’m in–sounds wonderful!
YES! I’m all in. 🙂
The inner renewal of springtime is always a joyous one- and I love detoxifying in evert sense each year. I stand up- and say yes! I love you
I am in. It’s remarkable you have posted all of this information for free! My yoga studio in DC is charging $295 for a spring cleanse and I am not sure their menu is this comprehensive (I don’t know as I am not taking it and will never have to now:)
Oops! Hope I didn’t undercut them. I am sure they are doing good and important work.
We send love across the nation to you, Pamela, and thank you for joining us in intention and the heart this Spring.
sounds good, starting a little laste due to a cold 🙂 thanks for your light laura
oooh, a cold may be its own detox, so maybe you are not late, but rather ahead. lol kelli ~
thank you for encouraging us to take on 21 blissful days without freezers, media, and other useless garbage in our lives (gigo, right?) chantel and i went into this with open hearts and minds, and while we weren’t a+ students i would like to share some personal highlights with you.
media. we don’t own televisions so this was easy. i did manage to avoid npr for most of this time (a few errant listens on the short drive to work notwithstanding).
freezers. we had a long camping trip in arizona, so this broke the mould. but only slightly!
fresh foods. a few times i used some packaged ingredients, but largely it was fresh ingredients. we used seasonal foods more often than we would have without the challenge, though bananas and blueberries found their way into some yogurt and granola at times.
nature. two long walks and three long days in a remote area of the arizona desert. a deer sighting, a desert iguana, and a saguaro blooming 3 months early(!) were a few highlights. chantel gets out walking more often than i but we did enjoy a couple of nice walks around the city.
in short i’d say we did okay. we are planning to do a more complete 21 day challenge this month. but a couple of things i found interesting in the last 3 weeks were an increased ability to meditate and a sense of increased focus on tasks. i’m fortunate to live in a place where i can choose a healthy lifestyle, and really become attuned with these finer points of good living. your challenge was met with open arms. we both look forward to slotting a dedicated time block to live it in greater fullness. *thank you* for proposing this and being the inspiring teacher that you are!
One year later. I’m in 🙂
Thanks for this great post, answer so much questions!