Ayurveda, an ancient Vedic science, is a holistic healing system that strives to maintain health through the wellness and balance of the mind, body and spirit. It quite literally translates to “the science of living.” At 5,000 years old it is one of the oldest healthcare systems in the world, developed by the sages of India. Ayurveda encourages living in harmony with the rhythms and seasons of nature, and seeking balance between the elements, both internally and externally. Ayurveda suggests that each individual is comprised of the same elements that make up our universe: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. We are microcosms of the macrocosm!
Once you know your individual make-up (“doshic constitution”), you know your unique definition of health. There are three “doshas” that make up every individual’s constitution, in varying ratios. Vata (made up of the elements ether and air), Pitta (made up of the elements fire and water), and Kapha (made up of the elements water and earth) are the three doshas within us all that comprise our constitution. Knowing your “prakruti,” or the balance of these doshas that you were born with, allows you to know your ideal doshic constitution so that you may strive through lifestyle and diet to maintain that unique balance for ideal health. Your present day imbalances are known as “vikruti,” and are generally what Ayurvedic medicines are treating.
To determine your constitution, take this quick and easy test by clicking here.
Kitchari is an Ayurvedic kitchen staple, though it is as much medicine as it is food. Kitchari is a simple food, and does not require the use of too much “agni” (digestive fire), and so allows you to redirect your energy elsewhere, like detoxification. The spices used in kitchari are Ayurvedic digestive spices, meaning they increase your agni making the digestive process of kitchari even simpler for the body. Kitchari is known to deep-clean the entire G.I. tract, pulling stored toxins (or “ama”) out of the tissues and eliminating them from your body. According to Ayurveda, imbalance of the doshas is the root of all disease. An excess of any one dosha will lead to creation and accumulation of toxins in the body, which eventually manifests as disease. Ayurveda attributes 80% of all disease to imbalances of the digestive system and, hence, much attention is given to its maintenance. In Ayurveda the digestive system is also our detoxification system; when the digestion breaks down so does the ability to detox. It is common in the Ayurvedic diet to go on a kitchari cleanse. A kitchari cleanse is a gentle cleanse for the body and can vary in length from 3-21 days, with these days being divided into the four distinct phases of preparation, active cleansing, reintroduction and rejuvenation. (The active cleansing phase indicates the time period that one would consume only kitchari.)
Some benefits of a kitchari cleanse include:
Pacifies the mind and nervous system
Fosters mental, spiritual and emotional clarity and groundedness
Nurtures energy, vitality and enthusiasm for life (or “ojas”)
Supports maintenance of a healthy body weight
Helps to restore and maintain balanced sleep cycles
Promotes regular and balanced elimination
Helps to recover each individual’s natural state of balance (or “prakruti”)
Prepares the tissues for deep nourishment and rejuvenation
Promotes optimal health
Some wonderful opportunities to cleanse are during the times of seasonal changes, so as we enter winter I hope you find time to nourish your body, mind and soul with this kitchari recipe! Really try to carve out some uninterrupted time for your meal, enjoying your nourishment in silence and without distraction so that you may fully receive the benefits it has to offer.