by Karyn Chabot

Detoxify During Autumn, MASSAGE MagazineDuring the transition of every season is when our bodies are most vulnerable and sensitive, because our immune systems are working extra hard to eliminate the accumulation of one or more of the five great maha bhutas (elements) out of our tissues. This is when we usually get sick with a cold or feel extra achy. Our bodies usually experience this transition for about one to two weeks.

Thousands of years ago, the great sages and healers of India upheld the tradition of detoxifying the kings and queens during the change of every season by doing an internal and external purification called pancha karma, which is Sanskrit meaning “five actions.” This involves a variety of massages, asana, herbs, gem therapy and a mono-fast of kichadi, an ancient recipe known as the “food of the gods” and that which creates space in the body.

Once we are firmly into the next season, we should put our attention on balancing the new season within us instead of detoxifying the previous season. Each season is connected to one or two of the five great elements, and each of the elements are connected to one of the five senses. Keeping our senses and these elements balanced within us is key to keeping you and your clients healthy.

The elements of fire and water increase within us during the summer, so if we want to gracefully move into fall, we should support our bodies need to eliminate excess inflammation and swelling. This is generally speaking though, as each of us is unique and there may be other factors and elements involved. Regardless of your unique imbalance, following some of the tips below during this time of year will make you and your clients’ physiologies very happy. Keep in mind Ayurveda is a science where like increases like and opposites balance.

Of the five senses, fire is connected to vision and water is connected to taste. Fire expresses itself in concentration and mental power. Its consciousness is the intellect; its qualities (gunas) are hot, sharp, light, luminous, spreading, subtle, dry and penetrating. One can usually tell if they have too much internal heat when they start burning their food, experience night sweats, rashes or reddish skin conditions, become easily angered, critical and impatient.

To reduce and detoxify inflammation, ask your clients to “eat, do and think” according to the opposite of the above qualities. For example, eat cooling, soft, heavy, moist foods. Do cooling breath techniques like left nostril breathing prior to meditation and gentle, restorative yoga to expand the tissues and release trapped heat. Don’t do “hot yoga” at this time. Use detoxifying, cooling oils like neem, castor and coconut oils for massage and use less penetrating techniques, such as effleurage. Relax by rivers and bodies of water or take a swim. Put your gaze upon the cooling blue colors of the sky and the water.

Water expresses itself through liquefaction and lubrication within the physiology. Its qualities are fluid, spreading, oily, slow, dense, smooth, soft, dull and cold. The consciousness of the water element when it is in balance supports compassion, contentment, love, gentleness and receptivity. When it is accumulated in the tissues, we can experience greed, possessiveness, emotional sensitivity and attachment to people, food or things. To reduce this, we use the “like increases like” concept and reduce all foods that will create bloating—and do not drink excessive amounts of water. Too much water can also put out our digestive fire, which can lead to weight gain. If you feel water has put out your digestive fire, you will notice you feel swollen and tired after meals. To remedy this, eat a fresh piece of ginger soaked in lime just before meals or sip ginger tea with raw honey throughout the day.

If you suspect you or your clients have an accumulation of excess water, do “hot yoga” in moderation, being careful not to overheat. If your face starts turning red, that’s a sign you are overheated.

It requires careful, strategic planning to balance both the water and fire elements together without sending one of them over the top. As you focus on balancing these elements, you will increase awareness in your body and begin to learn about your unique constitution and the little things your body needs to stay healthy.

Do lymphatic-massage techniques, pumping out liquid toxins through the lymphatic system to help your clients with edema and bloating. Use corn, sesame or olive oil, but use it sparingly. They would do well with fraction massage (garshana), clay, powder, shiatsu or Thai massage. Increase their basal metabolic rate by putting them under a sauna tent that fits over the massage table for 20 minutes to induce and liquefy the release of toxins by perspiration.

Aggressive therapies will help remove excess water, but simple meditation will also help settle the mind—and the mind is the master of the entire body and all the five great elements. To balance all the elements and stay healthy, meditate at least 20 minutes each day and become the master of your body and mind.

Karyn Chabot, MASSAGE MagazineKaryn Chabot graduated from Goddard College with her bachelor’s degree in alternative health in 1995. In 1997, she graduated and studied with Dr. Vasant Lad, B.A.M.S, at his school, The Ayurvedic Institute, in New Mexico. That same year, she also graduated from Universal Massage Therapeutics of New Mexico. During the past 23 years of working in the health industry, she became a licensed and nationally certified massage therapist and continuing-education provider for other massage therapists. In 1998, she became certified as a Ayur*Yoga Therapist, and later graduated from the Ayurveda-Yoga Institute of New York City. She then became certified as a master crystologist with the Taomchi Association of America, Reiki practitioner, certified Quantum Touch therapist and certified fitness trainer and nutritionist. She also holds certification as a Pancha Karma Therapist and Medical Thai Therapist. For more information, visit