Fullness, sluggishness, lack of motivation: If the metabolism is not really cooperating, it is time for a therapeutic fasting cure. Ayurvedic fasting is about stimulating the "Agni" (digestive fire) and thus supporting the body in detoxification. Read here why it is partial fasting and what the three doshas have to do with Ayurvedic fasting.
Guide to Ayurvedic fasting: the basics
In Ayurveda, the term dosha refers to a fundamental force in the human being that directs all mental and physical processes. In total, there are three of these universal forces: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Most people are mixed types.
Ayurvedic fasting according to Vata, Pitta or Kapha
Ayurvedic fasting takes into account the constitutional types by recommending different fasting periods. In concrete terms, this means: Pure Vataor Pitta types should only fast for 3-4 days, as fat and waste products are lost during this process, and these two types tend to be light and slender by nature.
A Kapha person, on the other hand, can fast Ayurvedically for a longer period of time without any problems, as they may even be slightly overweight and can accordingly lose more weight without any health risk. Ideally, Ayurvedic fasting should be practised under professional guidance, among other reasons precisely because it often involves mixed doshas.
Is Ayurvedic fasting the same as partial fasting?
Ayurvedic fasting is not about losing a lot of weight as quickly as possible. The aim is to Detoxify the body, get rid of waste products and strengthen the Agni. Especially in spring, when the lavish food from the cold season makes itself felt, this type of therapeutic fasting is wonderfully suitable for gaining new energy.
Ayurvedic fasting involves subsisting on small amounts and a limited selection of foods for a limited period of time. Total fasting is not an explicit part of the cure because it slows down digestion. While up to 1.5 total fasting days are possible, they are definitely not compulsory.
Those who fast Ayurvedically therefore eat primarily vegan and in smaller quantities, according to their own dosha. Overall, this is a gentle way of fasting, but it is not suitable for pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating women. Ayurvedic fasting should also not be practised in cases of illness or inflammation.
Ayurvedic fasting: how it works
Before the actual fasting days begin, it is a good idea to cleanse the intestines during Ayurvedic fasting. This is followed by the actual fasting phase and a final build-up phase to gently re-accustom the digestion to everyday nutrition.
Before the Ayurveda Fast
Intestinal cleansing can be done in many different ways. One possibility is to drink dissolved Epsom salts over 3-4 days. Mung bean soup as the only food can also prepare well for the fasting days. As a general rule, avoid cold, raw and overly heavy foods in order to lay a foundation for the Agni.
To clear the whole head region, oil pulling is suitable: Put 1 tablespoon of coconut, sesame or rapeseed oil in your mouth daily and pull the oil firmly through your teeth for 5-10 minutes. Be sure to spit out the oil afterwards and brush your teeth and tongue thoroughly, because toxins have now accumulated in the oil.
During the Ayurveda fast
During the actual fasting days, you can choose from various soup recipes, drinks and other meals that correspond to your dosha type. Forgo breakfast and/or dinner and have a light meal at lunchtime.
In order to flush out toxins and waste products as well as possible, it is recommended to drink plenty of warm ginger water and herbal tea. Fruit tea is not well suited for Ayurvedic fasting as it contains unfavourable acids.
During Ayurvedic fasting, the food intake is reduced. This also results in a lack of energy, which is why you should not take on too much for the fasting days. The weekend or some holidays are good times for Ayurvedic fasting, because on days off you can find peace, take short walks and so on.
Build-up phase: After the Ayurveda Fasting
Ayurvedic fasting usually takes place over a limited period of time. As soon as the fasting days come to an end, it is best to gradually accustom the digestion to a normal (Ayurvedic) diet again.
In concrete terms, this means: In the build-up phase after Ayurvedic fasting, it is better to avoid toxic foods such as dairy products, fried foods, wheat flour products, meat, coffee and alcohol for 10 days or longer. If the body is suddenly confronted with these substances again, new waste products are formed immediately.
No matter which variant of Ayurvedic fasting you choose, the following always applies: Listen to your body. Fasting is supposed to bring about a positive development - if you feel only bad for a long time, this is not the case and it is wiser to end the fast.
Ayurvedic Lent Soup and other recipes
Since fasting can make you shiver, warm drinks and soups are a good choice for fasting days. Spices that aid digestion, such as ginger or coriander, play a central role. As long as you do not overdo it with the seasoning, this refinement fits well into the Ayurvedic fasting programme.
An example of a simple Ayurvedic fasting soup is the Peya rice soup: 1 part rice simmers in 14 parts water and is seasoned with a spice that corresponds to the dosha. For example, cardamom helps with nausea, black pepper and basil counteract Kapha disturbance.
A delicious drink made of ginger and honey is suitable for the Ayurvedic fasting breakfast: 5-6 slices of a ginger tuber are poured over with hot water. After 10 minutes of infusion, add some cinnamon and honey and drink the mixture in small sips.
This stimulates digestion and curbs cravings at the same time. It is best to boil water in the morning and pour it into a thermos flask. This way you can drink hot water every hour and optimally stimulate the Agni.
In the build-up phase, it can be more fruit again. In the morning, for example, you can enjoy fresh fruit in the form of a lassi: Mix 100 g yoghurt with cold water to taste, some cane sugar, 25 g strawberries and half a banana. The pureed mixture makes a delicious drinkable breakfast and of course also works with other types of fruit.
Ayurvedic fasting for new energy
The thought of fasting days is daunting for many people, yet fasting can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Ayurvedic fasting takes the individual into account instead of imposing rigid guidelines.
Permanent starvation is not the point here, rather it is intended to create a Reduced, type-appropriate diet new energy. By the way, you can support the Ayurvedic fasting diet excellently with gentle yoga exercises such as the locust. Out with the waste products, in with Agni: it is worth giving Ayurvedic fasting a chance!