Tuesday, September 8, 2020

How to Do an At-Home Panchakarma

I typically spend Labor Day grilling out and drinking beers, giving summer a proper send-off. But this year, I decided to flip the script and focus on a little self-care on my day off work. Since I've gotten into Ayurveda, I've really been wanting to try an at-home panchakarma (basically, an Ayurvedic spa day!). People pay lots of money to go to retreat centers for in-person panchakarmas, but you can do a scaled-down version at home for the cost of some mung beans and sesame oil!

The goal of a pachakarma is to cleanse your body inside and out. You eat easy-to-digest kitchari all day, and spend your time in meditation, doing yoga, reading, and doing oil massages. Sounds pretty great, huh? It was! Here's a rundown of how I spent my day.

I woke with the sunrise. I set my alarm for 6:34 am (actual sunrise time here), but my eyes popped open a few minutes before. I stretched, brushed my teeth, tongue-scraped with a copper scraper, splashed my face with water, and did an oil pull with sesame oil. The type of oil you use depends on your dosha, but vatas should use warming sesame oil. 

Next, I added ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and coriander to a cup black tea and enjoyed that while I meditated and did my morning journaling and oracle cards. I actually do that ritual every morning, but I'm usually drinking coffee instead of black tea. I think you're supposed to avoid caffeine altogether during your panchakarma, but I'm not that advanced. Next, I went on a light, easy 3-mile jog (not a PK thing, just something I needed to do for my training) and did some yoga stretches. Then it was time for my first bowl of Healing Tridoshic Kitchari!

This recipe is from Sahara Rose's Idiot's Guide to Ayurveda. In fact, all the recommendations I followed for an at-home panchakarma are from that book. She has a great chapter on PKs! My breakfast bowl is a simple kitchari of yellow mung beans and basmati rice with cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, and ginger.

After breakfast, I did a sesame oil massage (abhyanga) and an oil hair mask before a hot shower. I dressed in yoga clothes, and didn't even put on any makeup because I wasn't going anywhere or doing any Zoom meetings.

I made some strawberry herbal tea and sat outside to read. I tried to mix light reading with some educational reading throughout the day. Tea was a major theme. Here are a few of the teas I enjoyed throughout the day. Before each meal, I had Agni Tea (ginger, agave, pink salt) to stimulate digestion, and after each meal, I had CCF Tea (cumin, coriander, fennel) to help with digestion. I also had some Organic India Tulsi Sleep Tea before bed.

But backing up a bit: Before lunch, I did Yoga with Adriene's Yoga Wash video. It's a detox flow, and while I was trying to avoid screens all day, I made an exception for this one! It was great! Lunch was more kitchari, but this time, I added sweet potato, carrot, green peas, and kidney beans. I found this great site with recommendations for kitchari add-ins based on the season. You're supposed to do a panchakarma every season to reset, so I'll use this chart again as we enter Kapha season in the winter.

After lunch, I did a scalp massage with some scented scalp treatment, and then Maynard and I set off for an hour-long nature walk. We walked from my house down the V&E Greenline. Poor Maynard (my dog!) isn't used to walking more than 20-30 minutes at a time, and he was pooped when we got home!

Next, I did some sacral chakra work. I've been working on this chakra balancing program, and I'm focusing on my sacral chakra now. That involved some guided meditation on a CD, some artwork time (drawing a representation of my sacral chakra), and some yoga. For this yoga session, I developed my own class with sacral opening postures. It was fun to get creative on the mat!

Dinner was more kitchari! My dinner bowl looked the same as my breakfast bowl, so I'll spare you a picture. After dinner, Maynard and I went on a shorter walk, and then I made some caffeine-free Golden Milk Chai from Eat Feel Fresh. I enjoyed my chai while doing an herbal facial steam with my head over this bowl of herbs and flower petals.

It's recommended to get to bed by sunset, but that was 7:20 pm here, which seemed a little early for me. So I ran a bath and chilled in the tub with a bath bomb, face mask, my chai, and a book. After my bath, I did another sesame oil body massage, used my neti pot, did nasal irrigation with nasya oil, and took some triphala herbs for digestion. Then I headed to bed! Such a perfect day! I'll definitely be doing this again in the winter.


_emmbeedee_ said...


I ordered Idiot's Guide to Ayurveda and got it Saturday. I'm having a hard time figuring out my dosha because I seem to be so much of a mixture of everything. I think I'm overthinking the quiz.

I can't wait until I get it figured out and can delve into it more!

Jenn said...

Great idea for a rest day. Thanks for all the info on Panchakarma.