By MYRA LEWIN
It may seem that symptoms like gas, acne, skin rashes and indigestion are small annoyances that we have to cope with, but the rishis who wrote the Ayurvedic texts more than 5,000 years ago knew differently. They understood that our bodies naturally want to be in sync with nature, and by living within this cycle we stay in balance.
Fast-forward to modern times, and the symptoms we deal with remind us how important it is to stay in balance with nature. Fortunately Ayurveda has it covered with the powerful process of seasonal panchakarma.
Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic whole-being cleanse, focused on drawing ama, or toxins, from deep in your tissues where they have accumulated due to stress, poor diet, and the effects of modern living.
In Ayurveda, true health begins in the digestive system, so it is important to build a strong agni, or digestive fire. Strong agni allows the body to naturally address small concerns before they become great. If our bodies have been accumulating ama, a panchakarma cleanse can act as a “reset,” allowing our natural state of health to flourish.
Here are five signs that a panchakarma cleanse might be right for you:
1. Chronic constipation
Many people think that constipation is a part of life, or don’t even know they are constipated. Some doctors even say that just three bowel movements a week is in the normal range! But according to Ayurveda, you should naturally eliminate at least once per day, ideally first thing in the morning and then after every main meal. This can vary with each person’s unique constitution, but is a useful general guideline.
If you don’t eliminate daily, ama builds up in the digestive tract and deeper tissues, leading to mental fogginess, acne, allergies, and other more serious health concerns. Chronic constipation is typically a sign of imbalance in vata dosha, but can also involve pitta and kapha. The symptoms will differ slightly. A panchakarma cleanse is designed for the individual to balance all three doshas, bringing agni – and elimination – back to its natural state.
2. Acne and skin rashes
Your skin is your largest organ, so whatever is happening on the inside is reflected on the outside. Treating skin issues externally may offer short-term relief, but it only masks the problem. A panchakarma cleanse can offer long-term relief by drawing ama from the blood, balancing pitta dosha. A gentle, nourishing diet of easily digested food supports this afterward as well.
3. Food allergies
Intolerance or allergies to foods like dairy, legumes or grain are a sign of weak agni and doshic imbalance. Agni becomes weakened from poor eating habits resulting in poorly digested food, chemical pesticides in foods or improper food combinations. When agni is weak, it is difficult to digest heavier foods like those listed above, so they seem like they are a problem. Food allergy or intolerance does not need to be a permanent condition.
In a panchakarma cleanse, the body gets a “reset” through treatments that are designed to draw out ama that has accumulated from the weakened agni and food that gives agni the opportunity to strengthen.
4. A restless mind
Each of us is a whole being made of a mind, a body, and a spirit. If there is a disturbance in one of these areas, it will always have an impact on the others.
Ayurveda looks at the source and connection of health concerns, rather than separating the parts from the whole. Panchakarma practices, such as daily abhyanga, provide a sense of calm while softening ama for removal. In addition, the time dedicated to panchakarma offers an opportunity for deep introspection. Many people start or deepen their meditation practice during panchakarma. As the panchakarma cleanse draws out toxins from the mind and body, negative or circular thoughts that arise from them leave as well.
In our busy lives, it’s easy to pass off fatigue as a normal response to our days. It’s true that we too often push ourselves to maintain a level of stress and work that is not conducive to health and longevity. However, weak agni can also contribute to fatigue. If our food is not being digested properly or we are not receiving the nutrients from what we eat, our bodies tire faster.
I recommend to any client undergoing panchakarma to take time off or, at minimum, reduce the regular workload. The space away from a usual routine will allow your body to recuperate from stress and get you into a proper sleep/wake schedule that will give you sustained energy for your day. Reduced stress after the panchakarma treatments are complete is also important. The rejuvenation period after treatments is when the body and mind integrate the new state.
It’s important to keep in mind that panchakarma should be coupled with long-term improvements to the food you eat and the lifestyle you live. Going back to the same unhealthy habits that caused the toxins to build up will only create more imbalance as your body tries to cope with the dramatic changes. A panchakarma cleanse, guided by a trusted Ayurvedic practitioner, can bring your body back to its natural state of balance – free from illness, disease and poor health.
Myra Lewin is a certified NAMA Ayurvedic Practitioner and master Yogini who has studied and worked alongside people of great wisdom in Ayurveda and Yoga for decades. She has presented at conferences worldwide, holds workshops and retreats internationally, and teacher trainings on the island of Kaua’i, Hawaii. Myra is the founder of Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga, which offers a guided home panchakarma therapy program each spring and autumn.
Featured Photo: Coley Christine, Unsplash.com