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Fasting - The Yogic Way



WHAT IS FASTING

Fasting is complete abstinence from food. It has been practiced through the ages as a means of cleansing and purifying the body & mind. Most religions recommend it as a means of strengthening prayer. Overeating or eating rich high-protein food regularly strains your system. Fasting eases that strain as blood in our body solely does the task of destroying germs & other poisonous wastes. We all know that when animals or even birds fall sick, their first and foremost step is giving up eating until they show signs of recovery which shows that fasting itself is healing. Fasting at times does wonders in curing even chronic diseases. All the digestive organs, i.e., the stomach, the pancreas, the liver & the small & large intestines get full rest in fasting. Just as after sleep & rest we feel more strong, fresh & energetic, so is the case with internal organs.

THE EFFECTS OF FASTING

During a long fast, the body works on decomposing and burning those cells and tissues which are diseased, damaged, aged or dead. The creation of new and healthy cells is speeded up by the amino acids released from the diseased cells. The capacity of the eliminative organs, that is, lungs, liver, kidneys and the skin is greatly increased as they are relieved of the usual burden of digesting food and eliminating the resultant wastes. It works as preventive and healing measures, enables safe weight loss, reduces high blood pressure, lessens the fat content of the blood (cholesterol), adjusts the sugar level of the blood and improves the condition of stomach and intestinal passage. After three days of fasting you will begin to see its benefits such as increased stamina, mental energy, enhanced concentration and improvement in some senses. Fasting is beneficial physically, mentally & spiritually.

DURING A FAST

During fasts you need to maintain self-control especially for the first day as body craves for food that it is used to. Do not give in. Whenever you feel hungry drink lukewarm water slowly in small sips. Water cleanses the entire system & washes away the impurities which might have accumulated in the system from time to time. It is better to take an enema of lukewarm water after the normal motion to cleanse the bowels thoroughly. Bathe two to three times to relax your muscles and clear your skin. Be relaxed and take in as much fresh air as possible. You may experience temporary side effects like headaches, bad breath or vomiting. Keep busy and enhance your spiritual knowledge by reading and meditating. Do postures and breathing exercises. Keep your body warm as fasting slows down blood circulation.

BREAKING A FAST

The most difficult part of fast is breaking it sensibly. In Yoga, breaking a fast is a gradual process so that your body gets reaccustomed to ingesting food and your normal diet. It should always be broken with a glass of fruit juice or with pulpy fruits which are easily digestible. The natural tendency is to crave for extra food once the fast is broken which is very unhealthy. In fact it could lead to damage of the digestive system. To avoid overeating, break your fast in the evening and do not eat again till you have digested whatever you had eaten. Also remember to chew your food thoroughly, since the digestive system has been at rest, to make the process of digestion easier.

YOGIC WAY OF FAST

If you are planning to keep fast for three days, you require total nine days to finish. It means actual fast will be for three days but you require the same number of days to prepare & to break it. Following is the step by step programme for three days fast (total nine days).

PREPRATION
Day 1 & Day 2 Boiled vegetables, buttermilk, curd
Day 3: lemon water + honey
Do not forget to drink water, especially whenever you feel hungry.

ACTUAL FAST
Day 4, 5 & 6
Drink plain water for 3 days.
If one feels weak one can take 4-5 glasses of lemon water and honey and water for 3 days.

BREAKING THE FAST
Day 7: Drink juice diluted with water 50:50 ratios till afternoon, after that take pure juice
Day 8: Vegetable soup till afternoon, after that take boiled vegetables
Day 9: Eat wheat halwa. (Roast wheat flour without adding ghee in the flour. Then put water and gur (jaggery) in it). Once the halwa is ready put some pure ghee in it. Keep it in thin consistency). Evening: Dalia (broken wheat).
In between take lots of lukewarm water.
Day 10: you should resume to your normal diet. Normal diet is – chapatti, vegetables, fruit, salad, curd, dalia. Try to maintain a balanced diet that gives you adequate nutrition. Avoid heavy spices, tea and coffee. Just remember not to overeat or mix too much food types on your first day of food. Do everything slowly but surely.

CAUTION
Long fasts are better undertaken under the advice of an expert Naturopath. You can fast for 1-3 days without the guidance of an expert. Do not fast if you are ill or anemic. If you are on medication or suffer from any chronic ailment, it is advisable to consult your doctor before starting. Do not fast if you are pregnant. If you have any doubts whether to fast or not, ask your doctor for advice.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti

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