For Kim Rossi, Director of Shankara Ayurveda Spa at The Art of Living Retreat Center in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, authentic Ayurvedic detox is the order of the day.
Founded by renowned humanitarian leader and spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The Art of Living offers guided meditation, yoga, philosophy workshops, spa treatments, group ceremonies, celebrations, nature walks and Ayurvedic programs to nourish the mind, body and spirit.
Rossi shared some expert tips for those who are considering a detox.
What does it mean to detox?
To detox means to literally get the toxins out of your system.
What are toxins, according to Ayurveda?
In Sanskrit, toxins are called AMA. Even if we eat the best organic food (or if we eat junk food), if our body is not able to digest or absorb it and provide nutrition to our tissues and organs, this undigested food stays in our bodies and creates toxins.
These toxins can go to organs or tissues that are already weak and accumulate there, leading to potential health issues in the future. For example, if we have had a trauma to our lower back in the past, it is likely for these toxins or AMA to lodge in those weak pockets and cause back problems in the future.
In Ayurveda, it is believed that one of the main reasons that food does not get digested and absorbed properly is due to weak digestive power. So when we talk about Ayurvedic detox, we are not only removing toxins from the body via different massages and panchakarma [an Ayurvedic cleanse] detox processes, but also strengthening the overall system and the digestive power to maintain the body in balance in the future.
Just as we change the oil in our cars every 3000 or 5000 miles--to prevent buildup of carbon and other impurities--and we also check to see if anything needs to be fixed or repaired before it breaks down, similarly, the body benefits greatly from care and regular maintenance.
This is exactly what detox does. We fine-tune our bodies to function at their optimum levels, we prevent any potential future ailments and if there is a problem, we treat that during our detox program. This, in effect, will prevent us from falling sick often, decrease the frequency of doctor visits and bills, improve productivity and lessen time off work due to illness.
This is also a great way to pamper ourselves with massage, take some time out for ourselves, learn how to maintain our health with the education that is provided during the program and learn many new self-help techniques as well, as well as the right way of cooking and combining foods.
When and how often people should detox?
Why it isn't enough to simply stick to a healthy diet year-round?It is a good idea to detox every change of season, however with people’s busy schedules, this may not be possible. So, at least one or two times a year is a good idea to detox.
Health is a dynamic expression of life. Our daily life is full of challenges at work, lifestyle, travel, etc., so no matter how well we stick to our diet plan, we do get influenced by these external factors that could make our bodies out of balance.
It is a great idea to maintain a healthy diet all year round, but remember that our body’s needs are different in different seasons. And with our hectic lifestyles, stress at work and home, all these impressions affect and get stored in the body, so this annual or bi-annual detox acts like a preventive measure to clean up these impurities before they can form any serious diseases and generally maintain a sense of good health and wellbeing.
Which spa services are helpful to detoxing clients (wraps, colonic hydrotherapy,nutritional advice, etc.)?
Panchakarma [an Ayurvedic cleanse] is a time-tested way to detox, with Abhyanga--full body rhythmic massage done in a way to move all toxins towards the gut. Body wraps and scrubs also help to squeeze out the toxins from your body. Nasya is a detox therapy for the respiratory system detox and any issue from the collarbone to the head--migraine, headaches, neurological issues etc ( very good during spring time for allergies etc). Colonic hydrotherapy is very good for removing the excess toxins from the colon area. Virechana helps to remove excess toxins from the gut, small intestine area.
Nutritional advice is very important. If we eat the food suited to our body types, our bodies will be able to process the food properly and provide good nutrition to all our tissues and organs. In Ayurveda, we recommend food according to each person’s unique body type, and the idea is to keep their digestive fire or agni working at its optimum to transform the food into energy.
Who should and shouldn't detox?
Detox is generally healthy for most people. Women who are pregnant or who are on their monthly cycle should not detox. If someone is very frail and weak, then we can give them Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapies rather than a detox.
How do you know if a detox program is authentic and not just trendy?
One important point is that Ayurveda is thousands of years old. It has been used throughout the ages, and the processes and results are time-tested.
There are many subtleties and nuances in a full detox like Panchakarma. The process itself involves a pre-cleanse with accompanying treatments, the main cleanse and a post-cleanse action plan, much of which depends on one’s body type and how one reacts to the cleansing process. All this has been developed, then tested for ages, and is guided by experts.
Expert oversight and the amount of experience behind a detox plan both separate fads from authentic programs. At the end of the day, results speak for themselves, so it’s good to check reviews and speak with other people who are familiar with the field. Also to check the authenticity of the organization: how long have they been in practice and what are their reviews by former clients?
See if they have a Ayurvedic practitioner on board who monitors the detox. Check if the treatments are given by licensed therapists. Check if they have accommodation and meals provided, so you don't have to drive back and forth every day and look for places to eat, thus taking time away from going inwards and relaxing. Check the ambiance of the place, and make sure it is in nature where you can spend time outdoors and take walks.
These processes are thousands of years old and still relevant today, perhaps more so than ever. artoflivingretreatcenter.org