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A Gentle Ayurvedic Cleanse for Fall (Purvakarma)

iflow Yoga Presents: A Gentle Ayurvedic Cleanse for Fall (Purvakarma)

Fall is a natural time of transition. It’s the perfect time to practice a gentle detox cleanse that will recalibrate your body, mind and spirit, and get you ready for a winter of wellness. We tend to get overly busy in the Fall. We think, “it’s time to work harder, gotta get grinding” and we overwork ourselves. We end up taxing our systems until we come down with a cold or the flu and are forced to rest.  This cleanse is designed nip that cycle in the bud and to support – not shock – your system. Rather than ridding the body of toxins at any cost, purvakarma gently balances the whole person so that they can detox without compromising the body in any way. This cleanse incorporates nourishing foods and self-care techniques to heal and support the body, strengthening your immune system to prepare for Winter ahead.  The key to purvakarma is a time out from unhealthy practices and habits. We’re creating a pause for reflection to make space for healthier activities. The kind of practices that nourish so that we can flow through the seasons naturally and easefully with optimal health and happiness.

During the cleanse, drop substances and habits that contribute to liver overload. This includes processed foods and alcohol (yes, wine counts) as well as the stress that rattles your nervous system. Spend time thinking about what influences you want to keep in your life and what you might want to let go.  Here are a few “keep” suggestions:

  • Do your self massage with sesame oil after a hot shower to increase circulation, nourish skin and soothe your nervous system.
  • Use a tongue scraper daily to assist in removing undigested waste from the body.  This waste shows up on the tongue and is called ama. Yes, it’s gross so get rid of it.
  • Find ways to unplug from all media and outside stimulation as much as possible.  For many of us this is practically impossible. Especially if you have children and a day job, so do what you can when you can.  Instead of turning on the television, create a spa vibe.  Light candles, take a bath, journal, go for a quiet walk, meditate and practice yoga moderately or perhaps just some gentle stretching.
  • If possible, try a a day from sunrise to sunset in silence. This is a profound practice that will leave you feeling spiritually sound and refreshed for having taken the time to go inside.

Ayurvedic cleansing also calls for ghee (clarified butter), which lubricates the digestive tract and facilitates the elimination of toxins from the body. We use it for cooking but it can also be added into your warm water to keep things moving (a few drops or up to a few teaspoons). Don’t be afraid of it. It’s changed my life. It’s truly nothing to be scared of… no, It will not make you fat!

You can also try adding a supplement. Triphala is an Ayurvedic remedy that supports the system and preserves what is good while it gets rid of toxins that will create weakness in the body. Triphala can be found at your local health food store and taken in the evening with warm water; 1 to 2 tablets or 1/2 teaspoon.

As for diet, Kichari is a simple food for these 3 days. Kichari is commonly used throughout Asia to purify the body.  Its balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat makes for an easily digestible nourishing meal that won’t leave you hungry, moody or weak. Kitchari is also tridoshic, which means that it’s great for all three doshas. The lightness of the dish reduces kapha in the body. It soothes vata by offering a complete source of protein.  The nature of the beans are astringent in taste which has a cooling effect on pitta. Kitchari is a natural anti-inflamatory!

Here’s the Kichari recipe I’m making now as I prepare to begin my own Fall cleanse tomorrow. This recipe makes enough to last for 3 or 4 meals.  You can play with the mixture of spices.


  • 7-10 cups of water (more water makes it more soup-like, less makes it the texture of oatmeal)
  • 1 cup split yellow mung beans (not whole mung dal beans)
  • ½ cup white basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon fennel
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3  bay leaves
  • ½ tsp salt (rock salt is best) or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • seasonal vegetables of choice like carrot, squash or zucchini (sliced)
  • 1 small handful fresh chopped cilantro leaves


  1. Wash split yellow mung beans and rice together until water runs clear
  2. Heat a large pot on medium heat and then add all the spices and dry roast for a few minutes. This dry-roasting will enhance the flavor
  3. Add dal and rice and stir again
  4. Add water and bring to a boil for 10 minutes
  5. Turn heat to low, cover pot and continue to cook for about 20 minutes
  6. Add veggies and cook for about another 20 minutes until dal and rice become soft
  7. The cilantro leaves can be added just before serving
  8. Add Sea Salt or Bragg’s to taste

I enjoy using a particular bowl I made in my last life as a potter for all my meals.  It not only is simplifying the dish situation but it’s the perfect single serving size.  You can measure the amount you should be eating 3 times a day by one anjali.  Anjali means offering in sanskrit.  Cup your hands together as if you were receiving something precious in it.  That’s how big your serving should be.

I’m personally inviting you to take 3 days to slow down and commit to clearing excess and reducing stimulation from your life with me.  Eat simply and drink lots of warm water.  You can add fennel, coriander or cumin to create a wonderful detoxifying tea.  Eat your Kichari, 3 palm sized bowls a day.  Don’t over spice.  Be moderate, be gentle, enjoy this sweet time.

Saprema (in love),

Amy & iflow Yoga


  • marilyn

    January 7th, 2013

    Amy – hello! I enjoy reading your blog. You are beautiful inside & out and I am proud to not only be your aunt but also your Godmother. I am very interested in beginning some form of yoga but terrified because there are so many forms out there and I am not coordinated AT ALL!

    You mention the clarified butter has changed your life – in what way?

    Thanks so much & keep up the great work. Safe travels Amy.

    Love always,



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