Inside Look at an Ayurveda Cleanse - An interview with Deb White
Ayurveda has such a different view on cleansing than a traditional western cleanse. In this episode I chat with Deb White, an Ayurveda client who experienced the benefits and healing that comes from an Ayurveda cleanse.
Listen to her share the challenges, benefits and results she experienced from going through a 16 day cleanse. It just may inspire YOU to do an Ayurveda cleanse.
This is Heather Johnson and you're listening to the Ayurveda Life School Podcast, episode number 98, Inside Look at an Ayurveda Cleanse.
Hello, my friends. Welcome to the podcast today. I am so excited to have with us a very special guest. She is actually one of my long standing clients who I've been so privileged to work with over the years. And her name is Deb white. She is also in Utah, which has been such a blessing because we've been able to meet together and do these consultations in person.
But she was able to go through a cleanse with us, a group guided cleanse this last year and watching the transformation that she went through, the experience that she had was inspiring to me as a counselor. And I thought that it would be interesting to share a little bit about her and her story. So she is joining us today on our podcast. Welcome to the show today, Deb.
Welcome Deb White to the Show
Good morning. I'm happy to be here and tell you what I've experienced.
Well, we're so glad that you could take the time to do this and that you really were our star pupil, such a star student as we went through this cleanse experience together.
I got an A- that's because I had such a good teacher.
Well, I think that, you know, there's a little give and take on both of that, right? You have to be a good student to get things out of your Ayurveda experience, for sure. So tell us a little, Deb, how did you end up finding Ayurveda?
Well, I have had a lot of health challenges in the last 25 years and I've always stayed open-minded to something new that I might try, that's different. And so I found Ayurveda through a friend and I was really intrigued by the whole body, the whole mind and the whole soul aspect of it. Because usually I've gone through other experiences where they just focus on one piece of you but Ayurveda puts it all together, which I really liked.
I think there's such a beauty to that because it does address a person holistically. And it sounds like you'd probably tried a lot of other things as well.
What was different about Ayurveda compared to other medical experiences?
It did because I felt like for the first time all parts of who I was mattered. And when working with you, you wanted to know things that I'd never been asked by a person, a health care provider never had asked me those questions and that made it so eye opening for me to look at my whole life as a complete of many parts and see how this part affects that part.
I just kept having the image of dominoes falling. This was affecting that, which was affecting that when, before I would go and they would address one piece of all of that. And without taking into account everything. They didn't even ask me the questions that you asked me. That's what made it different.
So you're saying you weren’t being asked about your bathroom habits by other doctors? I know that's one area that most people are surprised when I want to know so much about, but I see what you're saying. You maybe before felt like you were chasing the symptoms instead of putting all the pieces together and figuring out what is the actual root problem that I'm dealing with.
Yes, and it felt like I was going to so many specialists who specialized in a piece of me, but they didn't want to know anything about the rest of me. And yeah, I've tried a lot of different things and it's kind of been a hobby, I guess, to see what can I affect, how can I make a difference in my experience of mortality?
Sometimes I call my body the meat bag. I know that's not respectful, but just sometimes it's a little frustrating living in this body, and I'm always curious about how I can affect it positively. Because I know I can affect it negatively without even trying, but how can I switch it and change direction? And Ayurveda is awesome that way.
I love that you said meat bag simply because when we go to most medical practitioners that don't have a holistic view, they don't see that connection between the mind, the soul, the body. And so we do feel like we're separate from this body that we've been given and that it's our problem. It's causing problems for us as opposed to let's work with it and figure out, “what does it need and what am I doing that can bless it”?. So I think that's really awesome.
And part of that big process is cleansing. I mean, it's such a big thing in Ayurveda. So you went through a group cleanse with us and what motivated you to want to do that? Where were you at before that cleanse started that you felt like, yeah, this is something that I want to do.
Why did you choose to do an Ayurveda Cleanse?
Well, I had been through a very emotionally stressful period for about a year and things had kind of calmed down. And so I know that the stress accumulates in your body when it's constant and that can be provided by happy stress or not so happy stress. I felt congested. I just felt like my body was clumped up with all these little stress pockets and it was over now. And so I needed my body to feel calm and comfortable. That particular battle was over - the war is raging always - but that battle was over and we could have a little calm. And so it felt like a cleanse was perfect to do that. And boy was I surprised because an Ayurveda cleanse was way different than other cleanses I'd done. I was ready to suffer.
We believe in non-suffering through cleansing. I liked something that you just said in there that you felt like you had little stress pockets throughout the body, things that you had experienced.
And my mind immediately goes to an Ayurveda term called Ama, which is toxicity and toxins accumulated in our body. Whether it's through foods we're eating, actions we're taking, emotions we're feeling or not feeling, and the ways that we're handling the stress that comes in.
And so you sound like you were primed, like you were ready to get rid of that Ama that had built up. And that's really why we cleanse and seasonally too. So we can let go of some of that stress and toxins coming into the new season.
Did you have some specific goals going on other than, you know, I just want to feel refreshed and cleaned out? Was there an underlying goal? I mean, let's be honest. Most women, when we go into a cleanse, we secretly think, I want to lose 10 pounds or something like that.
So were there some ulterior goals that weren't as present in what you shared with me? Typically people say, ‘I just want to be healthy’. But were there other goals that you had in mind because I want to see how those came to be at the end of the cleanse.
What goals did you have for the cleanse?
A big thing was that through this stressful period, I had used sugar as a go-to to get through. That rhymes perfectly.
I'm gonna write that one down for you- Go to, to get through.
That was my go-to. And so I wanted to break the sugar cycle. So I knew that this would be great, you know. We did the 16 day cleanse, so it was like, okay, that's perfect. That'll be enough time that my body will just let go of that. And, yeah, I thought it'd be cool if I lost weight, but that wasn't a goal because this wasn't that kind of cleanse. I mean, I've done the lemon, maple syrup, cayenne pepper thing, this specific way to lose weight. Oh my gosh. That's hard.
That is not healthy. That is true suffering.
Yeah. So I didn't have that mindset of this specifically. I thought it'd be nice if it happened, but I wasn't looking for that. And the other thing is I have a lot of joint discomfort and I hoped that clearing out the sugar and being able to eat really good, yummy, healthy food, that it would help with the joint discomfort.
Phases of an Ayurveda Cleanse
Okay. We'll get to your end results and how those things went. I just wanted everyone to have in mind what your intention was going in, because intention is actually a really big part of an Ayurveda cleanse.
There was that pre cleanse phase before you got into the actual deep cleaning of the body, but we wanted to prepare you. And part of that was setting intentions. Were there things that you did or in that first phase to help you feel maybe more connected to what you were doing? I know that we really encourage you to create some space in your life because this requires a little bit of emotional energy.
And just so everyone listening understands the way that an Ayurveda cleanse works, you have this pre-cleanse phase where you're preparing the body, we're basically priming the metabolic enzymes, we're priming the body to be able to release.
Then we move into a little bit of a lengthier cleanse phase where we're really working on minimizing the stress and allowing your body to start to release from the fat cells, all the toxins.
And then we have a post cleanse where we come back towards where we're going to be eating more foods and we're eating a little bit more diversity so that we can move back into normal life.
So they're kind of different the way you've addressed the cleanses, the different phases. What was your experience with that first part where we were kind of letting go of the sugar and moving towards more of these whole foods, starting to set up some different routines? What did you feel like during that part?
Describe Your Experience during the pre-cleanse phase
I thought it was really a great prelude because I needed to cleanse my body, but I needed to cleanse my schedule and kind of reduce some of the things. So there was a lot more saying no, and not adding to my schedule just to keep it more open. I wanted a lot more white space so that I didn't feel like I was trying to cram this into my already busy life.
I feel like I deserved 16 days out of a whole year. It was okay. And so that, that first four days was the kind of the transition from a really packed schedule, just slowing it down. And, I also got rid of all the sugar treats in the house during that time. It was like, okay, who can I give this to? So I probably should have thrown it in the garbage, but I did share it with neighbors.
Better than you getting rid of it by eating it all really quick before the cleanse starts! Many times when we know we're going on a new food eating or program, we do that. Right? We're like, I'm just going to hurry and finish it up as though somehow there's benefit to that or just making it more difficult to clean out at the other side.
It's like messing up your dirty in your house before you clean it. Exactly. Kids go wild, mess it up. I'm going to clean it tomorrow.
I don't know. Sometimes it looks like my house has gone wild like that. So it needs a spring detox. Here we come.
So when we moved into the main part of the cleanse what was your food experience? Because it does change. We're still eating a pretty varied diet in that first section where we're getting ready, but none of the extras, right? We're still keeping out the sugar, the alcohol, the caffeine, anything that's going to be causing inflammation. But then we move into that middle section of the cleanse. Tell me how the food experience worked for you. And then what were some other changes that maybe you needed to make with your sleep, with a little more mindfulness? Because those are all parts of this.
Tell us about the main part of the cleanse-what was your food experience?
I was really excited that I wasn't going to be hungry. I thought that was really a nice shift because it takes a lot of emotional energy to deal with the cleanse. If you're hungry the whole time, you know, you have to keep telling yourself, this is good for me. This is good for me, but I didn't experience hunger because there was always something I could eat.
And it was different. I'd never eaten kitchari before. And it was very satisfying. And I think what was really great was the simplification. I didn't have to think so hard about what I was going to eat or what was for dinner.
Luckily my husband went ahead and did this. I think he cheated. I think he was out in his car going to a lot of errands that he normally doesn't. I think he was cheating on me somewhere on the side with a burger.
But at home we just did it together. So our three meals, that was the other thing I forgot to mention. I had done a lot of intermittent fasting before, so breakfast was not a thing. So this was something I wanted to really get into a breakfast habit.
Intermittent Fasting? Yes or no?
Oh, how did that go? That can be really hard. Intermittent fasting has been so popular and trendy. It's hard for people to come back to eating properly. Right?
Yeah. I had been intermittent fasting for years and years and years and didn't know what it was called. And then it had a name and I was like, Oh good. So now I have permission to not eat in the morning until after lunch. And so it was really new because I wasn't hungry in the morning.
So it was kind of a forced situation in that way. I just have to eat. So I have to eat something now. And you were great because you said, okay, if you're really not hungry, you don't have to go with the oatmeal. You can just do some stewed apples with cinnamon. And that really helped. But that, that was the big thing.
And being able to eat three healthy, satisfying meals. And if I was still as hungry, I could have an apple. It was like, okay, I can do this.
And so it became a way to simplify the food part of my life so that I could do more on the thought work and meditating and have time for abhyanga and all those things, because I wasn't having to go shop or plan a meal or big cleanup of the kitchen. It was so simple. I liked that. I mean, there's times where I eat kitchari now, even though I'm not doing a cleanse. Because it's just so simple.
What is Kitchari?
I love that. Kitchari itself is something that I think most of you as listeners are familiar with, but just in case this is new for you. Kitchari is a really basic meal. Deb, tell us what's in it. I mean, there's not very many ingredients.
Basmati rice, mung beans and spices. And I've come to adore cardamom and cinnamon. And I think we have a little more freedom with the spices. That was the one thing in the preparation that I didn't mention was getting the spices. Because I did not have any of these spices in my house. So it was fun to have that time period to go, okay, let's, let's try something new.
Now I use them in all kinds of things and they're just not spices that you'd normally have because they don't sell them in the grocery store.
There's so much more beyond salt and pepper. And that's where a lot of the healing comes in when we eat that. Kitchari is a perfect protein when you combine that basmati rice and that yellow mung dal. And it makes a dish that is easily digestible, but gives you all of the nutrients that your body's needing.
And then you add the spices in and it just makes it more delicious and you can add some vegetables in there. And so I feel like there's a lot of versatility to it. You can make it a savory dish. You can make it a sweet dish depending on how you spice it. So even though you're eating a pretty basic diet during that main part of the cleanse, it doesn't really get boring.
I mean, I guess if you made it the exact same way every single time, you might start to feel a little repetitive, but at the same time, I love that there's none of that decision fatigue where we're having to decide. It's just, I know this is what I will eat. And then I have space now to do so many other things to heal during the cleanse, which ultimately makes the biggest difference with the cleanse.
Exactly. And I make enough for lunch and dinner. So like I cooked once, ate twice. I don't know if that was naughty. Maybe I wasn't supposed to do that.
That's totally fine. I know when some clients are new, they'll make enough on Monday to eat for the whole week. And that is discouraged because you're eating old, non-energetic food. But if it's something that's eaten the same day, no problem. Often, I just make a big enough dish for both meals and just leave them out. I don't refrigerate that second portion because I don't want that cold energy from the fridge. I want it to just come to room temp and then we can warm it again over the stove for dinner. You did it perfectly, Deb. That's why you're the star student.
I thought I might've cheated. And I was revealing and confessing.
You're so funny. Okay. So you go through this experience, you're not suffering. How were you sleeping? What changes were you seeing in your body during the cleanse?
Physical changes during the cleanse
Well, I have struggled with irregularity. Here comes the bathroom talk again. Yeah. I don't poop. I have not pooped daily, sometimes for a whole week. And so that's always been something that I watch to see if this, whatever I'm doing, will help that. And I think it was a combination of slowing down my life and having more thought work and the abhyanga and I started pooping! I think I called you. I think I did call you. I think I even sent pictures.
You probably did. That's in the secret to no, no file on the phone. Right?
Yeah. But that was really great that I had this experience of being able to go poop more often. And um, I have to report I'm so proud-I go every day now. But this was something that my body was not used to. I'd been intermittent fasting and intermittent pooping as well.
Isn't that interesting? You start eating regularly and then you start going to the restroom regularly. It's like, maybe there's a connection there. Crazy.
Sleeping and tongue scraping
I really liked the schedule, the way you laid it out was so beautiful because I knew what I needed to do and when I needed to do it and it was a joy. I learned to get up and enjoy breakfast. And I went outside and ate on our patio and just listened to the birds and I didn't have a book to read and I'd left my phone in the house. And that was, that was awesome. That's something I continued until it got cold. And so I have to create that own experience in the house.
But that was really great. I really enjoyed that part. And sleeping was still kind of a challenge. So that didn't change for me. I wish I could say it cured everything, but sleeping was still a challenge. And it was tricky to try to get to bed by 10.
But I knew that was important. So I kept aiming at that goal. But I have to say now I am in bed by 10 every day. It's awesome. And my husband is too. And I think, well, you know, cause if you go to bed, your husband feels silly being up and he's gotta be quiet in the bedroom. So he might as well just go to bed. So it's been good for both of us. The other habit I loved was scraping my tongue. Oh, that's my happy day. I love that. I can't live a day without, I don't feel like I'm awake.
It feels so productive too, because you see everything that's coming off and you're scraping off the ama. It's awesome. Yeah. Can't miss that one. We went on a vacation recently and somehow my tongue scraper didn't get in my luggage and it was traumatizing because there was nowhere there that I had access to buying a new one. And so I was using the back of the spoon. I was feeling desperate. Like I really gotta get this off. And I felt unclean, it was just the funniest thing. So yes, once you've been scraping, you never go back.
That is so true. Anyway, that was cool because that was part of doing that. I just loved all the parts together and I could focus on all the parts.
Did you see results with your intentions and your goals that we mentioned? Did you find there was any shift in that?
Results and 9 pounds lost!
I did. I felt like an empty vessel. It felt really good. And I was like, I don't want to put regular food back in there. So I have continued to eat Ayurvedic pretty much most of the time. I didn't at Christmas. I'll admit I ate Christmas at Christmas. You’ll have to print an Ayurvedic Christmas cookbook. I don't know what to eat at Christmas except what I've eaten for the years before.
But I did lose weight, which was crazy. I lost nine pounds, which was not even my intention. I just weighed at the beginning, just out of curiosity. And then I didn't think about it. And I weighed at the end. So I did drop nine pounds, which was a surprise. That was not my goal. But I did see a change in my regularity and I felt lighter.
You'd let go of a lot that you were carrying and it's not always the physical stuff that makes you feel heavy, right? It's the emotional Ama, the emotional toxicity. Anytime that you feel an emotion, it doesn't go away unless you feel it all the way through and using things like sugar, it actually dead ends that process of release.
I like to think of, if I'm climbing up this mountain peak and then I stop myself from getting to the top, like you're cutting off the top of the mountain and that creates more toxicity in your body. So then you've clogged that channel. Right. And then you're trying to climb up and you're cut off again because you're cutting off that emotion. So you're accumulating this mountain of emotion that just continues to grow because you'll have that same emotion rise. Again, you're not able to handle it because you're covering it up by not feeling or not experiencing it fully.
And then it continues to move up. So I think that the really great part about Ayurveda cleansing is that we get into the mental side of what's happening because that's so integral to what's happening in your body. So there could have been some emotional constipation going on causing this irregularity in your bowels. Now you were able to clear it up, you feel lighter, you're going to the bathroom regularly so that we don't discount any part of it. All parts of it are equally important.
So now here's the real question. Will you do another cleanse?
Yes, actually I was really looking forward to the springtime cleanse. Because I don't know when we do that. I mean, I thought we were getting closed because we had 60 degree weather, but today we have six inches of snow. So I think the weather's confused as well, but, yeah, I'm looking forward to that again because I think I need this reset.
It's like shaking an etch-a-sketch. I know most, most of you are maybe too young to remember etch-a-sketches, but just shaking that and starting over. And I like that. It's twice a year. I think we need it.
Why is spring the perfect time to cleanse?
You've got all this accumulation over the winter and even going from the cold to the warm, like you're saying in Utah, the weather is very confused right now. And I'm watching about another foot of snow that has fallen just while we've been talking here out the window and that's lots of that irregularity. And that accumulated dryness and mobility, we have to eliminate that as we go into spring, otherwise we end up having excess mucus produced because that mucus is trying to help override that dryness and is trying to bring in more moisture.
So the drier and the more excessive the weather's been over the winter time, and the more dry you've allowed yourself to become, then you have an increase in all the springtime symptoms of the allergies and the sinus conditions and the mucus production.
We need to clear all the excess mucus that's starting to accumulate right now before the spring comes fully into being. So it does depend on where you live seasonally as far as what's the most appropriate bit, usually end of March, early April. And so that's when we'll be doing our Ayurveda Life School cleanse.
So I am glad that you're going to participate. We'll have a veteran in our group, everyone. This will be beautiful. We'll know who we can go to for questions.
Oh yes, I will. I will be the wise woman of the tribe. It's funny because I liked some of these recipes and I haven't made them. So when I was looking back over my cleanse book, I'm like, Oh, I'm looking forward to that again.
There's a lot of information supplied. You're definitely not doing it on your own when you go through this with us. I'm so glad we can have you on today. It's just a bright light in my day to get to see you.
Well, thank you. It's been a great experience. I'm happy to share a little bit of what it's done for me and I hope everybody will give it a go. I think it's really great. And I think you deserve it. That's the big thing. I think you deserve to take the time to focus on you, all your parts, put them together and let them all work in harmony together.
And it's really magical doing it all together in a group. I think because you're supported, you don't feel like I'm not the only one eating only kitchari for a week. You know that there's other people who understand - they're going through it with you. So beautiful.
Well have a lovely day. It was so good to visit with you, Deb. I appreciate your time spent with us today.
Thank you so much. Stay warm.
Join the Group Spring Cleanse
It was such a pleasure to visit with Deb today on our call. And I hope that you've learned a lot about how an Ayurveda cleanse can benefit and bless your health, your mind, your body, your soul. As we move into spring, we will be doing a guided group cleanse. This spring is a perfect opportunity to let go, to reset, and to start the rest of the year with improved health
You can find out more information about the group cleanse, get signed up and join with us at ayurvedalifeschool.com.
Have a beautiful week. We'll talk to you soon.