By Emily J. Weitz
Everyone knows about the tradition of spring cleaning: a time when you throw open the windows, beat out the rugs, and get rid of the dust and gunk that’s built up after a winter’s hibernation.
But what about spring cleansing?
It’s the same idea, but instead of cleaning the living room and emptying the closets, you’re wringing out the liver and flushing the kidneys. In this way you are ridding the body of toxins, excess fat, and other buildup that generally hampers the body’s ability to function at its highest potential.
The idea of cleansing is not all that foreign, but what exactly a cleanse is, is often misunderstood. This is in large part due to the fact there is a wide spectrum of cleanses out there. But it’s important to note that going on a cleanse does not necessarily mean you are only drinking water for three weeks. In fact, it doesn’t have to mean you aren’t eating. Believe it or not, you might not even be eating any less than normal. According to two East Enders who guide groups through cleanses on a seasonal basis, it’s not about deprivation at all. It’s about abundance.
Corey DeRosa, owner of Tapovana in Sag Harbor, runs a cleanse that gets people eating mostly kicharee. This Indian porridge consists of mung beans, basmati rice, kombu (a sea vegetable) and spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric, black mustard seeds, and ginger.
“Mung beans help to remove toxins from within the tissues,” DeRosa explains.
Between meals, cleansers will drink a potassium broth to balance the electrolytes, and they will drink digestive teas.
“This is a non-deprivational cleanse,” DeRosa says. “Participants should feel happy and nourished. We’re not just cleaning the body out but also strengthening and keeping the body healthy.”
The philosophy behind the cleanse at Tapovana is rooted in the ancient healing practice of Ayurveda, which teaches that food can be used to balance the constitution and to maintain optimal health.
“Ayurveda follows the idea that everything is made up of the five elements: space, air, fire, water, earth,” says DeRosa. “Certain elements are more predominant in each individual.”
For example, if you have a tendency towards dry skin and hair, you may have a lot of air in your constitution (or dosha). If, on the other hand, you get a lot of rashes and have a quick temper, fire may be a greater influence. Everyone has all five elements inside them, but when the elements are out of balance, problems arise. This cleanse is designed to bring these elements back into balance.
The cleanse at Tapovana begins with a 2-day workshop on April 16 and 17.
“We’ll do an introduction to Ayurveda and figure out everyone’s dosha,” says DeRosa. “Then we’ll talk about what foods will balance each individual and the preparation of those foods. We’ll discuss foods to avoid [for each dosha] and combinations that could create toxins in the future.”
From there, participants will dive into a lifestyle of waking before the sun, cleaning the body and then engaging in some form of spiritual practice like meditation, yoga or breathing exercises. The cleanse lasts for seven days, and you’ll have constant email support from DeRosa, as well as face time at the yoga studio every morning. At the conclusion of the cleanse, participants will be sent off with a rejuvenating concoction of honey and Ayurvedic herbs to support the re-entry back into everyday life.
“During the rejuvenation period, your body is now a blank canvas. It’s a good time to reset your routines,” says DeRosa. For more information call Tapovana at 267-5484 or go to www.tapovana.com.
Jolie Parcher of Mandala Yoga in Amagansett is an Ayurvedic consultant, so her 10-day cleanse is also inspired by the idea of bringing the body into balance. One decisive characteristic of this cleanse is the juicing aspect. Participants will wake up every morning, go through a ritual of cleaning and personal practice, and then drink a quart of fresh-squeezed juice.
In addition, cleansers can eat three meals a day, but instead of kicharee, cleansers are able to eat anything from a list of ingredients including almost all vegetables, quinoa, millet, nuts and a variety of other alkaline based foods. Throughout the day they’ll be flushing the system with a concoction of lemon, honey, garlic and cloves. Then, during the course of the cleanse they’ll let go of grains, then nuts, until they are only eating greens for three days. Then they ease back in to the full cleanse recipe book on days 8,9, and 10.
“Stepping into cleansing is looking at our habits and saying ‘This isn’t serving me any more.’ There’s a gentleness that is so key to more conscious eating.”
And that’s really what the cleanse at Mandala is.
“It’s ten days of whole foods,” says Parcher. “You’re eating close to the source, local, you’re learning food preparation.”
In this way, the Mandala cleanse is designed to arm you for a change you can carry with you after the ten days have passed.
“This cleanse has you coming out knowing what works for you,” said Parcher. But she adds that there’s more to it than just you.
“The carbon footprint is very important to this cleanse,” she said. “The idea of doing a cleanse needs to have a connection: where are you getting your food, what’s the packaging, who are you supporting in your money with this food…”
Through connecting cleansers to local chefs, and through collaborations with farms, the Mandala cleanse wakes you up to the vibrant food community out here.
To support the cleansing process that you’re facilitating from the inside, Parcher encourages participants to get body treatments like Ayurvedic warm oil treatments.
“These help to deeply relax and restore the body,” she says, “which then enables the body to have the energy and vitality to detoxify and re-energize. The warm oil treatments help to push the toxins out of the different tissues of the muscles and skin, back towards digestive tract, which is the best way to eliminate.”
Both DeRosa and Parcher emphasize that they lead “eating cleanses.” You’re not going to get a bunch of supplements and you won’t be left hungry. While the actual foods you’ll be eating will be different depending on which cleanse you choose, the basic philosophy is the same: this isn’t time out of life to do something unusual. This is a time to learn how to live better every day.
“From my experience,” says DeRosa, “the cleanse gives us an idea of how we are entitled to live, how we are allowed to feel.”