Demystifying the Myths of Fasting – a Yogic Ayurvedic Perspective

Fasting has several purposes throughout many cultures: one being religious and the other for improving physical health.

Fasting methods range from eliminating certain foods to total abstinence from all foods.

In the context of Ayurveda Medicine, fasting falls under the limb of niyama of tapas or austerity and self-restraint.

Meditation cleanses the mind. Fasting cleanses the body. The energy of tapas produced is a psychosomatic energy through aesetic practices that cultivates higher states of awareness.

As a preventative medicine, fasting has been a foundation for a number of healing systems such as Chinese, Ayurvedic, Sufi, North American and European folk medicine.

Fasting, also known as detoxifying, is a way of stimulating the body’s innate self-healing mechanism.

Seasonal changes such as spring and autumn equinoxes and summer and winter solstices are times of stress, physical changes and potential illness. Fasting will rejuvenate the mind/body on many levels.

There are many safe fasting methods for people in generally good health. But it is up to you to consult with your licensed health practitioner to decide on the best one for you.

During a cleansing, one can feel agitated, headachy, hypersensitive and ungrounded. It is important to support a detoxification with a yoga practice that honours this cleansing program.

Poses like Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), Viparita Karani (Leg-Up-the-Wall Pose) and Savasana (Corpse Pose) calm and replenish the body.

Relax into each exhalation, surrendering completely. Jathara Parivartanasana (Reclining Revolved Abdomen Pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) and Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest Pose) facilitate the detoxification process.

Be kind to yourself. Go slowly. Feel the sensuousness of the breath quieting down. The deep relaxation that comes with these postures will take the rough edges and smooth them out.

Take walks, naps, meditate, chant, journal.

Keep conversations and other activities to a minimum, including work.

We are a microcosm of nature. When we heal ourselves, we heal the earth. The same intelligence that operates in our body operates in nature. Finding the balance is the key. We are co-creators in this fathomless field of nature and man, both existing in an intricate, infinite web of potential.

May the Earth and all the myriad manifestations of the earth be restored to perfect health.


Lillian Strauss is a Yoga practitioner, reflexologist, Thai massage therapist, movement and music teacher at Energy Works. For information on her classes, contact her at 393-4541 or [email protected]


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