It is that time of the year again, with colourful garba nights and vibrant puja pandals garnering throngs of people from all walks of life to celebrate in togetherness the nine days, or rather nights of Navratri. Does your Navratri memories feature sneaking Kuttu Pooris (buckwheat) from the kitchen, gobbling piping hot Aloo Chaat or simply feeling amused at the sheer amount of 'Navratri' foods in the markets but never quite registering the brouhaha about it? Well, here's some trivia about Navratri fasting and what makes it good for you!
Navaratri is the time for relaxation and rejuvenation of the mind and the soul. These nine days of fasting have a deeper physical and psychological impact on our body, and should not be merely reduced to a religious practice. Here are six reasons why fasting during this season can help you -
1. A Superb Opportunity to Detox
Fasting is done to detoxify the body. The body and the mind are very intimately connected. So when the body is purified through fasting, the mind also becomes calmer. So this Navratri, stock up on your favourite fruits and see the flush of vitamins put a glow on your face. Avoid consuming excess starch, specially fried potatoes which can easily be replaced by baked sweet potato.
Also don't forget to stay hydrated; keep sipping water, juices, coconut water or vegetable soup to replenish your body and flush out toxins. You could also make interesting combinations of detox water.
So this Navratri, stock up on your favourite fruits; Image credit: Istock
2. Tuning in the Digestive System
According to Ayurveda, fasting is an effective way to rekindle the digestive fire or hunger. Usually, most of us don't wait to feel hungry. Hunger is the way our body indicates that it is prepared to digest food. Eating even before feeling hungry weakens the digestive system, which in turn leads to stress and a poor immunity level. Fasting increases our digestive fire and this fire burns the lethargy and dullness in the body that comes through excessive eating. That is why after fasting you feel so fresh and light because every cell of our body comes alive.
Fasting is an effective way to rekindle the digestive fire or hunger; Image credit: Istock
3. Increases Positivity or Sattva Guna
This world is made up of five elements and these five elements have three qualities, that is:
- Sattva (the quality that brings forth positivity)
- Rajas (the quality that brings forth activity)
- Tamas (the quality that brings forth inertia)
Ayurveda says fasting enhances the quality of life and brings joy and happiness as it greatly increases the Sattva level of the body by detoxifying and cleaning the system, which many a times gets stressed by overindulging in food.
Ayurveda says fasting enhances the quality of life and brings joy; Image credit: Istock
4. Combination of Yoga and Fasting
Gentle yoga poses, stretches, twists and bends complement the fasting process. It speeds up the detoxification process and you will feel uplifted and energised. You can practice breathing techniques like Nadi Shodhan (alternate breathing technique), Kapalbhati Pranayam (skull shining breathing technique), light spinal stretches, Pawanmukt Asana (Wind relieving pose), etc. Meditation and chanting will also be highly useful during this period of fasting.
Gentle yoga poses, stretches, twists and bends complement the fasting process; Image credit: Istock
Tips to Observe the Fast
- Begin the first three days by consuming only fruits and if needed, Khichdi, for one meal.
- Post this you can consume the traditional Navratri diet of Kuttu (buckwheat), Samak (fasting rice) or Sabudana (Sago) once a day and enjoy fruits through the remaining meals.
- Incorporate vegetables like bottle gourd and pumpkin in your diet along with fruits. You can also consume dairy products like milk, ghee, buttermilk and yoghurt.
- However, avoid any fried or heavy foods and switch to healthier cooking methods like steaming, baking or roasting.
- In case you have a health condition, consult a doctor before fasting and remember to do only as much as you are comfortable with.
- Those who cannot fast can abstain from non-vegetarian food, alcohol, onion, garlic and spices, and use rock salt instead of common salt for cooking.
The traditional Navratri diet includes buckwheat, fasting rice or sabudana (sago) once a day and fruits
Quick Fasting-Friendly Recipe
Love dosas? What if we told you that your favorite dosa can be eaten during Navratri fasts? A simple, healthy and quick recipe is given below:
Samak Rice Flour - 1 1/2 cups
Water 1/2 cup
Whole Cumin Seeds - 1 pinch
Rock salt - 1/2 tsp
Green Chilli Paste - 1/8 tsp
Dates - 12 pieces
Lemon Juice - 2 tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Method for Preparation:
- Add water to the Sama Rice Flour and mix it well.
- Add whole cumin seeds, green chilly paste, and salt to the mixture to make a smooth batter.
- Heat a non-stick pan, spread one large serving spoon of the batter evenly on the pan (like a pancake) to prepare the dosa. Line with oil once you see bubbles forming.
- Once ready, fold the dosa and place onto a serving plate.
- Grind the dates into a fine paste and add some lemon juice to it. You can also add the lemon juice while grinding.
- Serve the dosas with this tangy sweet date chutney.
Samak Rice is rich in iron, fiber and minerals and is a much superior grain when compared to regular rice, and wheat. It is also low in carbohydrates, which is why it is used for fasting.
About the Author:
The Art of Living's international team of experts has introduced the knowledge and real essence of Yoga and Ayurveda to millions all over the globe, not just as a set of physical exercises and diet regime but as a deeper science that discusses them as a union of the mind, body, and soul.
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