The last couple of years, I’ve been doing a seasonal reset as we transition from winter to spring or summer to fall. As a 200-hour registered yoga teacher and certified ayurvedic counselor, the version I employ is from the ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda is the sister science and lifestyle practice of yoga, both of which originated on the Asian subcontinent 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. Typically, a reset can last anywhere from three to 14 days, with preparation and reintroduction days built into the time frame. Currently, I’m doing a guided version as part of a year-long ayurvedic immersion class I started in January, so I thought I’d share a light version if you too feel as though you’d like to hit the reset button this season. You don’t have to be a yoga practitioner or ayurvedic devotee to pause for a few days, engage in self-care practices, eat nourishing food, enjoy nature, get in some gentle movement and restore yourself to a state of balance, if only for a few days. I say that because as we all know, life isn’t conducive to being 100 percent in balance 100 percent of the time. But, we can certainly right the ship every once in a while. Some of the below may not resonate with you. Feel free to modify it in whatever way feels right for you. Most important: Be kind and gentle with yourself.
- Find a weekend when you can clear your schedule (at least for the most part). If that’s not an option for you, try to set it when you have one or two days off. The goal is to make time for rest and relaxation. Block out your calendar for those days, practice saying no to obligations and let your family know your plans. (Perhaps they will even join you for all, or part of it.) Set a reminder for three days before and two days after the blocked dates.
- Spend a few days tapering off processed foods, meat, sweets, caffeine, alcohol and any other recreational substances, as well as sugar. Eat fresh, whole foods during this time. This stage is about un-proccesing your diet gradually. For example, if you are used to drinking five or six cups of coffee a day, you may want to start earlier than three days in advance so you don’t get headaches and other withdrawal symptoms. Focus on being gentle to yourself and your system. It is also a good time to gather ingredients for the food you’ll be enjoying in the coming days. (Recipes and ingredients linked below.)
- When your preparation days are complete, it’s time to start what’s called a mono-diet. This is not about deprivation. The recipes are nourishing, and you can eat as much as you’d like for the following three days. (Note: Be sure to continue taking your doctor prescribed medications throughout your reset.)
- Breakfast: Simple oatmeal with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and dried and fresh fruits.
- Lunch and Dinner: Winter Kitchari with Ginger Chutney recipe by certified yoga instructor and Ayurvedic counselor Claire Ragozzino (and my immersion class teacher). Kitchari is a centuries-old, one-pot mung bean (or lentil) stew (or soup, depending on how you make it). Seasonal veggie and topping variations keep it from being too monotonous.
- Snacks: It’s best to allow about three hours between meals, but if you are hungry snack on fresh fruit or kitchari. It’s important to feel satisfied and get enough nutritional calories throughout the day.
- Hydration: Sip warm water and digestive teas between meals.
- Activities: Overall, take a break from excessive exercise and take it easy. Rest as much as you can and take walks in nature if possible. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do all of practices below. It’s not about being perfect and ticking things off a list. Pick one or two that stand out to you and leave the rest.
- Morning: Rise early, Scrape your tongue and brush your teeth. Sip hot water (with or without lemon — this helps get your bowels moving). Take a walk, do gentle yoga, tai chi or another slow, calm movement. Take a bath or shower. Make your teas and prepare your food for the day. Try to eat breakfast between 7 and 8 a.m. A brief meditation session and deep breathing are beneficial morning practices as well and help start the day on a calm note. I like the Calm and Insight Timer apps for guided meditations, breathwork, yoga and more. It’s also helpful to journal during your reset. This can be a simple brain dump of anything that pops into your head, self-talk about the reset process (trials and triumphs), resistance that may be coming up or anything else on your mind.
- Afternoon: Sip water and teas, rest, read and relax. Eat lunch around noon to 1 p.m. and take about a 10-minute walk afterward, to keep things moving. At some point in the afternoon, perhaps about an hour before dinner, try yoga nidra. (This is a type of meditation that keeps the mind engaged but is very restive and restorative, like a nap. It’s great for people who think they can’t meditate!) This is such a lovely transition from afternoon to evening.
- Evening: It’s time to wind down for the night. Eat dinner from around 6 to 7 p.m. Enjoy hobbies and quiet activities, do gentle yoga and meditate, try abhyanga, which is an ayurvedic self-massage using oil and take a hot bath with Epsom salt to prepare yourself for a restful night’s sleep. Plan to go to bed no later than 10 p.m.
- Reintroduction: Once your three days is over, it’s time to slowly diversify your diet and transition to your normal routine. Gradually switch back to the simple, whole foods you were eating during the preparation phase and pay attention to how your body feels when you eat certain foods.
- Processing: This has been a time of rest and, hopefully, reflection. Insights and revelations might pop up for you during and after the reset. Listen, write them down and process them as they come.
If you have a question about ayurveda or this spring reset, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.