We are beginning now to step out of the Active Cleansing Phase and move slowly into Reintroduction. “After you complete the active cleansing phase, your body will still be processing the toxins that were stirred into circulation. And your digestive system will have become accustomed to a very clean diet and will be somewhat sensitive to overly stimulating or processed foods. Therefore, a slow transition back into your normal routine and a more diverse diet is critically important. Eat primarily simple, whole foods, diversifying your menu very gradually. The more committed you can be to maintaining a diet of simple, whole foods, the stronger your agni will be after your cleanse. This is also the time to test the waters with foods that are potentially aggravating like dairy, wheat, soy, and nightshades—ideally, reintroducing these foods one at a time and giving yourself up to twenty-four hours to observe how your body responds to each of them.
Maintaining a very simple diet through this phase of the cleanse buffers your system, strengthens agni, and prepares your digestive system to successfully receive more complex foods after the cleanse is complete. But the truth is that, it is often easier to maintain a highly structured monodiet than to stick to eating a more diverse range of very simple, whole foods after completing the monodiet. For many, this is actually the most challenging phase of the entire cleanse. It can feel like we’ve come through the hard part, and after days of kitchari, we are often craving some substance and stimulation in our diets. Therefore, it is extremely important to mentally prepare for this phase. Think of it as an essential part of—rather than a gradual transition out of—the cleanse. You may also find it helpful to plan a menu for this phase in advance. Choose meals that you will find delicious and exciting so that you are not tempted to dive right into overly complex and difficult to digest foods. This is not the time to celebrate with a pizza and a beer! Remember, the longer your cleanse, the more time your body will need to diversify your diet and strengthen agni. Go slowly and your agni will emerge from the cleanse much stronger—which means better sustained health moving forward (1).”
At the end of your active cleansing phase it’s an opportune time to assess where you noticed your habits and patterns. For example; were you really missing a particular food or craving something regularly (like sugar or coffee)? Once we map these items we can more clearly see the ways in which we can support ourselves more appropriately as we move forward. Sometimes, as the trees demonstrate to us inside of Fall, we have to shed in order to find lightness. Letting go of certain things is hard, but more often than not, we will reap the rewards tenfold if we follow the wisdom that we know intuitively to be true.
Simple foods will be key! You might want to jump right over into a yummy pizza but in the end you know that it’s not going to be the best idea. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lead a cleanse and either through the last few days of the cleanse or on the final day, people jump into having 5 beers or down a bucket of fried chicken only to contact me (out of guilt I might add, a not-so-fun emotion and entirely unnecessary too!) to confess and relate how awful it made them feel. So don’t let this be the time you burst through the gate and consume whatever sounds good, continue on your path of mindfulness.
Consider meals such as:
Simple Oatmeal (with warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger)
Simple Curries (with dosha appropriate vegetables and mild spices)
Simple Steamed Vegetables (make sure that they are thoroughly cooked)
It’s now time to gently begin to work your way back into supportive and intentional physical activity. As the body is still working on clearing and releasing, it’s important to operate from a place of inquisition in relationship to how you are feeling. For example, we would want to avoid completing a marathon two days after active cleansing, sort of a no brainer right. Instead find time to take walks in nature enjoying the seasonal changes, soaking in the diversity of the season and practice yoga in such a way that makes you feel rejuvenated rather than tired. Below you will find some recommended postures for this particular phase:
Starting on hands and knees with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees with a neutral spine gazing towards the floor. Begin slow yogic breathing and close the eyes.
Starting with an inhalation, allow the head to lift softly up, arching the back ever-so-slightly, drawing the sit bones towards the sky, relaxing your belly towards the ground (cow pose). On an exhalation, slowly tuck your chin to your chest, round the spine and draw your tailbone under (cat pose).
Repeat 10-15 times working slowly with your breath.
Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
Starting on hands and knees with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees with a neutral spine gazing towards the floor. Walk your hands forward a few inches and tuck your toes underneath. Begin slow yogic breathing. As you exhale, move your sitbones back towards your heals without dropping downwards. Keep your arms activated, elbows engaged off the ground.
Drop your forehead to the floor and let your neck relax. Keep a slight curve in your lower back. To feel a nice long stretch in your spine, press the hands down and stretch through the arms while pulling your hips back toward your heels. For a deeper variation your can work either your chin to the ground, or relax your heart all the down. If relaxing the heart, be mindful that you are keeping the neck as long as possible offering clear blood flow towards the brain.
Holding here for approximately one minutes, breath into your back and soften the space behind your eyes. As you release relax back into Childs Pose (balasana).
Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
Lying flat on your belly with your arms along side your torso, palms face up, relax your forehead to the ground. Bring the big toes together to touch, creating a soft internal rotation of the legs.
Interlace your hands behind your back and on an inhalation, starting with the chest begin to lift the heart, then the hands and then the feet. Keep your glutes engaged yet not clenching (there us a poignant difference!) and reach strongly through your legs, being mindful to keep the big toes together. Notice that the breath will naturally rock you back and forth as you take expansive diaphragmatic breaths.
Keep the gaze slightly down to elongate the neck. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute then release softening the right cheek to the mat. Rest for a few breaths then complete once more with opposite interlacing of the fingers.
We spoke about sleep during our active cleansing phase and it’s important to continue to keep it in the forefront of your mind. Most of us know what our optimal sleep time is, so as you begin to rebuild your habits and patterns, work to adjust your daily routine to incorporate a steady sleep schedule that you will not compromise on! For example, I know that if I sleep eight hours a night I’m just flat out a better human so I try to be mindful of this and set enough time aside within my evening routine to support a full eight hour resting period. Articulate your optimal time and start and/or continue to adhere to this.
Remember, although the active phase is complete, you are still very much invested in your cleanse, so don’t give up but instead show up! Do good, be good and kick ass.