Cleansing for the dosha
We are all familiar with feeling under par, usually after we’ve been overdoing it: eating too much, drinking too much, doing too much. In addition, our systems can become ‘clogged up’ with environmental pollutants, media overload or life in general. When this occurs, we need to cleanse and refresh ourselves to feel balanced. We wash our hands and face every day, and this helps us to feel revitalised: think how renewed you feel after a warm bath.
Just as our skin needs regular cleansing, so do our insides. If we don’t, 'toxins' accumulate – known in Ayurveda as ama – and we get ill. Because we cannot scrub our inner body clean we need to learn a few skills to help cleanse our tissues, organs as well as our mind - to learn how to help our body do what it does best.
Understanding your Ayurvedic body type, or dosha, can really help you to determine what type of cleanse will be of most benefit for you and will actually leave you feeling good. In Ayurveda, there are three different body types or constitutions known as ‘dosha’: Kapha, Pitta and Vata which can be defined by particular patterns of behaviour and physical characteristics.
Here is a little insight into what types of cleansing regimes are most suited to each dosha.
Vata naturally has difficulty holding onto energy and need to be cautious when cleansing. A short cleanse of one to three days with simple nourishing foods such as rice and mung-beans will help calm the mind and rekindle the digestive fire without weakening the body.
Pitta types have boundless energy but can be hot and fiery. They can benefit from vegetable and fruit juicing they are better at processing raw and cooler foodstuffs. It’s also important that they try and rest (even if they don’t want to).
Kapha types can tolerate more prolonged cleanses as they are excellent stores of energy. Including warmth and spice into the diet will boost the normally sluggish kapha metabolism and help them begin to burn off excess toxicity.
Pointers that are helpful for all three doshas would be to keep diets simple; vegetable-based and dairy-free as well as reducing or cutting out caffeine and alcohol. Keep exercise to a minimum and remember not to overdo it as your body will be working harder than usual during a cleanse.
What makes Ayurveda’s approach to cleansing unique is that rather than promoting one approach to suit all; it recognises us all as individuals. Understanding your dosha, or mind body types, can be really helpful in working out which cleansing approach is best for you.
Remember, we’re all a mixture of the three doshas so we’ll show characteristics of each but one or two will tend to dominate. If two doshas are dominant for you, you can read both articles or be guided by the seasons. For example, vata is more likely to get aggravated when the seasons change in spring and autumn, pitta dosha in summer and kapha dosha is late winter and early spring. So take extra care to balance these doshas at these times of the year.