Cleaning the Slate with Ayurveda

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For many, it’s back to school time.  Even those out of school may still feel the familiar nudge to start fresh with a clean slate.  Perhaps indulging in luxuries like a new outfit, a motivating book or a new backpack.  To me, there is nothing more exciting and comforting than a blank notebook with line-free pages so crisp they threaten you with a paper cut on each turn of the page.

This week was my first day at my new job with New Tricks.  I’m excited for many reasons:

  • I have awesome co-workers (and a cool lady entrepreneur boss)
  • I’m learning tons
  • I live close enough to work that I might try riding a bike to work one day (once I get a bike)
  • It’s in my favorite part of town (I won’t tell so I don’t hurt the feelings of other parts of town)
  • I have to be at work at the same time every day

Yep- it might seem strange that one of the things (among many) that I am excited about is getting to be at work at the same time every day.

Let me explain: I’ve been suffering from a vata imbalance for the past 3 years.  I’m hoping that by incorporating a little routine into my life I’ll start feeling more grounded.  Many people look at routine as something mundane or confining (trust me I’ve had some battles with the mundane)- however I have been living my life in the opposite extreme for just a little too long.  I’ve been living with an inconsistent, impulsive, unpredictable, say yes and figure it out as I go schedule for going on 3 years.  It’s taken me on a wild adventurous ride to South America, through yoga teacher training and all over the city of Atlanta to different studios and events.  I am excited, though, to let go of a little bit of that airy, all-over-the-place vata tendency and get a little more balanced to allow me to feel my feet on solid ground.  

If you have no idea what I’m talking about or don’t know what a vata imbalance is, I’ll do my best to break it down and – even better- refer you to the ladies who taught me everything I know about ayurveda.  

Ayurveda Cliff Notes (written by a non-expert):

Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga.  Often it is referenced in relation to nutrition, however it can more broadly be applied to the overall practice of health for the mind and body (and I’ll add spirit).

According to ayurvedic teachings, there are three energies (doshas) that comprise our bodies and environment:

Our constitution is made up of a combination of these three elements.  We are, however, biologically predisposed to be more of one or two doshas. ex. I am vata-pitta.  We may also find ourselves out of balance ex. vata imbalance.  

In an effort to really start off the “school year” with a clean slate, I decided I’d start my new routine off with an ayurvedic cleanse.  A cleanse in essence should help to reset any imbalances you may be experiencing.

I’m not sure yet if it was a good idea or not to time my cleanse with my first day at the new job.  Poetically it sounds great; practically not so much. The cleanse is food based (which one of the reasons I think ayurveda is the best way to cleanse). It does, however, involve giving up caffeine and sugar (which is scary for a coffee/chocolate addict like myself).  Also, as your body experiences the withdrawal from caffeine and sugar you may experience what is commonly described as a “brain fog” as your body detoxes.  Right about 2 pm on my first day of my new job, I started feeling the fog coming over me, luckily I held it together and my co-workers only subtly brought up the questionable timing of doing a cleanse (oops!  You live you learn). 

I HIGHLY recommend if you are interested in doing an ayurvedic cleanse that you talk to someone much more knowledgable than me (disclaimer in case I haven’t been clear: I am not certified in ayurveda).  A few tips if you are interested in doing a cleanse to :

  • Prepare your food ahead of time so you have plenty of the good food within your reach.  Here is a link to the kitchari recipe I used.  It was one of the more flavorful kitchari recipes I’ve tried.
  • Get lots of rest to allow your body to detox.  Probably don’t start a new job the same day that you start the cleanse.
  • Talk to an expert:
    • The ever-so-lovely Anna Apotheca guided me through my first ayurvedic cleanse.  She has a quiz on her site to help you identify your own individual wellness/cleanse needs. 
    • Yoga instructor Isvari Verre also has some great information about ayurveda on her website and offers nutritional consultation.  On her site, you can discover more about your dosha.

One of the appeals to doing an ayurveda cleanse -aside from hitting the nutritional reset button- is that ayurveda encourages the practice of ritual: to create space in your morning routine for self-care, quiet and to intentionally set the tone for your day.  Incorporating this ritual has been my biggest goal.    Currently I’m reading a my roommate’s book (thanks roommate!) by Twyla Tharpe called The Creative Habit. In addition to recommending a creative name change a la Madonna (which is super exciting – get ready for my alter ego debut), she also speaks to the power of practicing a creative ritual of preparation.

“A lot of habitually creative people have preparation rituals linked to the setting in which they choose to start their day. By putting themselves into that environment, they start their creative day.”-Twyla Sharpe

Similarly in the yoga world, I recently read an blog post written by a local yoga instructor who I admire, Leigh Mallis.   Her post Create a Ritual of Meditation & Gratitude for Success offers great insight into what a morning ritual could look like for you.  Leigh once said to me “Jessica, it will change your life!”

Well. I haven’t yet mastered the ritual but life is certainly changing, I’m encouraged by what this practice will create.

A 3 day cleanse is great.  Yes, I hope it motivates me to make better nutritional choices and care for myself mind, spirit and body.  What I really hope is that this will help me clear the slate, get more grounded, and create space to nurture that little creative soul inside, to honor her, to believe in her and to give her space to create a life without walls and experiences that blow your mind.

As for Dirty South Yoga, the pieces are falling into place as they are meant to, holding the space to be creative is an essential component for what may come.  

Stay tuned.

There’s so much great yoga happening in the South.  At Dirty South Yoga, we hope to give you little slivers of all the greatness coming up this fall.  Go explore yoga in your city, learn more about ayurveda, create your own sacred ritual.

Sending Love,

Jessica

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