Coralie’s master cleanse experience…
I participated in my first master cleanse (long intestinal wash) in September last year at Mangrove Mountain Ashram. Although I’d done the short wash many times over the years I had not managed to find the space and time for the long wash. In the short wash you drink 6 glasses of water and in the longer form you may drink up to twice that amount. The long wash also requires that you rest completely for at least for 4 or 5 days immediately after and to follow special dietary requirements for the month following the cleanse. It’s a big commitment which is why it is advisable to only do the practice under expert guidance and in a supportive, natural environment.
So I joined the dozen other people undertaking the cleanse and we surrendered ourselves to the care of the ashram for the week. The night before we ate a light dinner of vegetable soup, then to bed for an early night. The next morning we were met by Rishi Hridayananda, the veteran of literally hundreds of these parties in both India and Australia.
With yoga mat laid out I made my way to the bar to drink my first 2 large glasses of lightly-salted, warm water which were served (and duly recorded) by Rishi’s helpful, friendly bar staff. I downed the first two glasses without much trouble and hit the mat to start 8 rounds of the first of asana in the 5-asana sequence. This particular sequence of asanas applies pressure to different parts of the gastro-intestinal tract, moving the water through your gut.
Starting with Tadasana, which opens the lower oesophageal sphincter, a few modest burps later (less modest with each round) followed by the swaying palm-tree, Tiryaka tadasana which washes the water around the stomach. The dynamic standing twist of Kati chakrasana is next and I’m sure I can feel the water moving through my small intestines. Face-down on the mat for the twisting cobra which applies pressure to the abdominal area and opens the ileo-saecal valve. Finally, Urdarakarshanasana which applies pressure to the large intestines. Keeping a cracking pace is important so I’m straight back to the bar to repeat the process all over again.
I got to 10 glasses and was just about to start on the 5th sequence when I heard the call of nature and decided a trip to the toilet was in order…..right now.
The instruction was to drink enough so that you end up passing clear fluid. That achieved, I went to lie down in a specially warmed room for 20 minutes. My arrival time was recorded and I was reminded not to go to sleep lest I develop a headache. Twenty minutes later I get the nod to head to the kitchen for breakfast.
Breakfast consisted of a porridge made of rice and lentils (kitchari) with as much ghee as I wanted but no drinks. I could have had sips of warm water if necessary. I realized later that the porridge is really only a vehicle for the ghee to re-line the gut. Also, because there is no salt in the porridge, the raised level of sodium in the bloodstream from the salty water is drawn by osmosis out of the bloodstream (high concentration) into the porridge (low concentration). Cool huh.
With breakfast done, we all went off to our rooms to rest and stay warm. Instinctively my body felt too vulnerable to the world in general and the cold in particular to undress for a shower, so I go to bed fully clothed with a hot-water bottle and snuggled-up knowing I have no-where to go and nothing to do but rest for the next 7 days.
Over the following few days I was surprised at my level of sensitivity to my environment: light, temperature, wind, noise. We were advised to protect ourselves from the elements because of this sensitivity, which Rishi described as being like a new-born babe. This applied to our gut too: rice and lentil porridge with ghee but no salt for 2 days. Steamed veggies were introduced on the third day with no raw food or fresh fruit for the remainder of the first week.
None of this was boring or a hard-ship. I felt like I was working with a brand-new set of taste buds and everything was new. I could really taste the food. My sense of smell, which is generally good, was exceptional after the cleanse.
I felt very nurtured by the daily yoga practices that included Trataka (steady gazing) that we performed on the Gayatri Yantra (a pictorial representation, in this case, of the Gayatri mantra), daily Yoga Nidra, and Kapalbhati (a cleansing pranayama). All of which helped with also helped to support, ‘clean’ and re-organize.
Looking back, the Master Cleanse stands out as one of those times in my yoga journey that feels especially important. By the end of the week I felt like I was starting the rest of my life refreshed and anew.
Find out more about the master cleanse in a conversation between Coralie and Rishi here.
Rishi Hridayananda will be hosting her next Salt-water party at Narasoma Retreat Centre in Ubud, Bali – 24-31 August 2019