It’s that beautifully soulful time of the year.
The festive season is sparkling and shimmering on the horizon with its promise of warmth, laughter, bonhomie and cheer. Navratris, the Indian 9-Nights festival celebrating the manifestations of Goddess Durga, is also a holy opportunity to reset our wellness. The religious rituals of abstinence & fasting with specially recommended foods have a very sound science behind them.
Sharad Navratri falls in the shift from warmer to cooler season and hence the need to align the body, mind and spirit with the change.
It is a perfect time to restore the balance in self , to cleanse, restore and reset. Here’s a simple guidance to a 9 Day Cleanse & Restore during Navratris – especially in context to our modern, fast paced lifestyles.
Slow Down. Detox the Diet. Cleanse & Restore with Yoga
A cleanse begins with the practice of mindfulness and mindfulness has its roots in slowing down.
The opposite of leading a fast paced lifestyle, a slow life approach is about giving up living in an autopilot mode and being completely anchored in the present moment – with complete awareness and appreciation of its gifts.Slow down and take the first step to detoxifying mind, body and spirit.
♥ Practice mindfulness of thought & action
Stop constant pre-occupation by avoiding multi-tasking , gently focusing on one task at a time- with complete awareness. Be aware of yourself, your thoughts, environment & people around you. Practice mindfulness – eat a meal consciously, drive with complete awareness or even drink a glass of water with all senses taking in the purity and nourishment.
♥ Go for a Digital Detox.
Unplug digitally and reconnect with yourself. Ditch the Mobile Phone,TV,Laptop, iPod etc – instead read a book, chant a mantra, let your mind wander into nothingness.
If Social Media, Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram et al are your poisons, abstain or set aside strict minimized time slots to use.
Resist the urge to check emails first thing in the morning & last thing at night. Instead, introspect, appreciate nature, have a loving word with the family or just be.
If you need digital assistance for a digital detox :), here’s a list of Apps that help you unplug.
Apoorva Gupta Jalan, Yoga Therapist & Founder-In.Breath, advises, “This period is about withdrawing and cleansing, not just in the body but also in the mind. So do take some time away from your tasks and responsibilities to quietly connect with your breath and bring peace and clarity to your mind.”
She shares a simple Breath Meditation which, if practiced regularly over the next 9 days will help your breath slowly expand, such that you are able to breathe better & longer.
For more ways of slowing down, take a look at this lovely post from Zen Habits.
DETOX WITH NOURISHING & CLEANSING FOODS
The practice of abstaining from certain grains, legumes, vegetables ,spices , refined oils, non-vegetarian foods and alcohol offers an opportunity to eat light , cleanse the body of toxins and re-set the balance.
♥ Recommended foods for Navratri fasts include the following Flours, Spices, Fruits & Vegetables . The list and photographs are from the very popular Dassana’s Veg Recipes of India. You can find Navratri Recipe suggestions at Veg Recipes of India.
♥ Avoid Restaurant Navratri Thalis, Frying & Sweets as much as possible. Instead cook simple recipes at home & substitute frying with Baking, Sautéing, Grilling – to keep the fast healthy and not overload the digestive system. Ghee and Peanut Oil are the recommended fats.
Flours : Buckwheat Flour (Kuttu Ka Atta), Amaranth Flour (Rajgire Ka Atta), Barnyard Millet Flour (Samak Chawal Ka Atta), Water Chestnut Flour (Singhare Ka Atta), Tapioca Pearls ( Sabudana), Foxnuts (Makhane)
Spices : Cumin,Black Pepper, Rock Salt, Green Cardamom (chhoti illaichi), Cloves (laung), Black peppercorns (saboot kali mirch), Cinnamon (dalchini) and Nutmeg (jaiphal), Dry pomegranate seeds (anardana) , Ginger, Green Chilly, Lemon, Carom Seeds (Ajwain), Coriander (Dhania), Mint (Pudina), Curry Leaves (Kadi Patta), Dry Mango Powder, Black Salt
This list may vary mildly depending on personal preferences.
♥ Increase your fluid intake with Coconut Water, Herbal Teas, Milk, Buttermilk and of course good, healthy, wholesome water!
♥ Blend up some fruit smoothies from Banana, Pineapple, Milk or have freshly pressed juices of Apple, Pear, Pomegranate. Mix & Match.
Ishi Khosla, Clinical Nutrionist and Director, Whole Foods, advises in ‘Prevention’ – “Plan one major meal with alternate grains, prepared in minimal oil,which should ideally be had before sunset.Snack on milk, yogurt,fruits,nuts,seeds, dry fruits and coconut.Such a diet can help you drop kilos and boost energy!”
CLEANSING & RESTORATIVE YOGA
If you are fasting, go easy on heavy workouts. Instead, take heed of the ancient Ayurveda Principles which advises the practice of Cleansing and Restorative Asanas.
Komal Sodhi, Yoga Guru and Founder of Komal Sodhi Yoga & Fitness Studio, advises gentle sequence of flowing Asanas and Pranayama – done with complete awareness for a holistic cleansing.
♥ Begin your mornings with 6-8 Surya Namaskars. Keep the movements slow, fluid and stretch well. With Surya Namaskars, the more you do it the more energetic you feel. It is also excellent for sebaceous glands as it flushes out the toxins from the skin.
♥ Internal cleansing of organs ,esp. of our liver, leads to effective functioning & absorption of the minerals and nutrients from our diet. Some Asanas for a healthy liver include – Paschimottanasana (forward bend) , Ardh-matsayendrasana (half spinal twist), Kandhrasana (bridge pose ), Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
♥ Our physical appearance depends on our Thyroid hormones which are controlled by our Pituitary gland. The Pituitary is in turn controlled by Hypothalamus which is influenced by the state of mind. Some of the asanas for our pituitary glands are: Trikonasana (triangle pose), Padahastasana (Forward fold) , Adho Mukhaswanasana (Downward facing dog), Shashankasana (child’s pose)
♥ Practicing Pranayams such as Anuloma Viloma, Bhramari and Bhastrika relaxes the mind and removes accumulated stagnant gases from the lungs thus bringing a glow to the face. Also, practicing Yoganidra even for a few minutes , relaxes and rejuvenates the body and mind and induces sound sleep which further rejuvenates the tissues.
Before beginning the practice warm up & stretch. Please note that Asanas should be done under supervision of a certified yoga teacher.
Here’s a wonderful link to the Art of Living’s guidance on Navratri in modern times. You can also be a part of the live webcast of the celebrations at their Bangalore centre.
Stay Balanced.Stay Well.Stay Naturally Lush. Happy Navratris!