Food and Fasting

Autumn Equinox Fasting

Here in Japan, the Autumnal Equinox (秋分の日), this year falling on September 23rd, is actually a national holiday. What a wonderful way to celebrate the time of the year when the dark and the light are perfectly even, the start of autumn, and a seasonal signal that we are heading into the cold, dark time of winter!

Fast the body to feed the mind

The Autumnal Equinox, like any other natural marker of change in our environment, is a wonderful time to do some cleaning or cleansing.   Like spring cleaning, the start of autumn is a good time to clean out closets, getting rid of unessential items and preparing for the transition to winter.

When cleaning our outer world, it is also useful to cleanse our inner world. By fasting, basically taking only liquids or very easily digested foods, we can give our digestive systems a rest, allowing our energy to be used for repairing and restoring our bodies. This is a great way to build strength before the cold winter sets in. In this way, it can strengthen your immunity so you don’t get sick ^v^

Fasting has taught me A LOT about my relationship to food and how eating is connected to my emotions. When I fast, I feel more calm. I am less likely to get angry.

Autumn Equinox Cleanse: This year, I am honoring the change of seasons with a Kitchari cleanse and a little meditation retreat at a temple, Koya-san. I will eat only kitchari –  dish of rice and dal beans cooked to a mush with some spices and vegetable – and some fruits and vegetable, green and herbal tea and water for 3 weeks, until the next new moon on October 13th.

The purpose: to reset my body, mind and spirit for the new season and cleanse myself of toxins.

Expected results (based on past experiences):  Physical – weight loss, reduction of puffiness or bloating, refreshed and clearer skin, improved digestive function, cleared nasal congestion, sharpening of the 5 senses, increased energy. Mental/emotional – mental clarity and quietness, feeling more gentle and patient, less likely to lash out or get aggravated, deeper appreciation for the simple things in life, including food!

Many friends and students are curious about and sometimes suspicious of fasting. They question its health benefits, and wonder whether or not its harmful. Cleansing and fasting has been a regular part of my life for the past 2 years, so I would like to talk a little about it.  I have personally done a variety of fasts: enzyme drink fasting, coconut water, lemonade fasting, and kitchari cleansing. All have brought similar results, the ones I mentioned above, but each have their own pros and cons and times when they are more appropriate.

Enzyme drink fasting: This was my first ever fast. I first did it for 4 days, then increasing up to 7 days.  Pros – It was easy, no need to think about preparing anything, just buy and dilute. I didn’t mind the taste, but after several days it became almost tasteless, made to provide the right amount of vitamins and nutrients to support basic functions.    Cons – Expensive!, the taste is unpleasant for some.                                                                                      For more information in Japanese : http://fastinglife.co.jp/mana_kouso/

Coconut Water: I did this for 3 days at an ashram in the Phillipines. The location was ideal for fasting and you cannot beat freshly cut and opened coconuts. However, its quite difficult to replicate this experience in a non-tropical environment. Highly recommended if you have the chance!

Lemonade Diet or the Master Cleanser: The was my most recent cleanse, after I already had over a year of fasting under my belt. My longest at 7 days,  I came away with a new awareness of time. I felt as if time had slowed down, and actually that I had the power to slow time down. I also started to feel constipated after 5 days, which is not uncommon with extended fasting. It was a slightly unpleasantly full feeling, but I wonder if it would have fixed itself had I continued.  It was tasty and cheap, although I went through a lot of pricey organic maple syrup.                                                                                                                             For more information in English: http://themastercleanse.org/

In Japanese: http://www.geocities.co.jp/Beautycare-Venus/2032/lemonade_diet/process.htm

 

Kitchari Cleanse: This is a great cleanse for cooler months, or for people like me who tend to feel cold easily. I usually do it for 3 days. I can also be done as preparation for a more intense fast, like the master cleanser or only water fast. Its pretty tasty and inexpensive to make. It has a quick and very positive effect on my digestive system. The best part is, you can enjoy eating solid foods while also cleansing your body. I use A LOT of turmeric, more than this Kitchari Recipe calls for, and no salt. My yoga teacher recommends no spices at all. I am working up to that ^v^

If you have any questions about fasting, I would be happy to share my experience! Email me @ ali.tanuki@gmail.com

With love and light

Ally

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