The war against cellulite, in our appearance-obsessed culture, is at an all-time high with thousands of products available now, which all claim to reduce the appearance of or the existence of this common complaint. In Ayurveda however, cellulite is viewed in a more holistic light and in a way that offers practical solutions to an issue that western allopathy currently has mostly band-aid treatments, and few real solutions for.
Ayurveda looks at cellulite as an imbalance of Kapha dosha in the system, and specifically in Medas Dhatu (the fat tissues, adipose tissue under the dermis and surrounding vital organs like the brain). When there is an imbalance of Kapha dosha that accumulates there, the lymphatic system is not able to function properly, and thus, lymphatic drainage does not occur effectively, leaving toxins and fluid (Ama) to build up as little pockets of fat.
This issue can be traced back to imbalanced Agni, in which the digestive fire is either not strong enough to process food inputs properly, resulting in accumulated Ama (waste), or the diet and lifestyle are so unhealthy and processed that even a healthy digestive fire cannot compete with the onslaught of foreign ingredients thrown onto it. Thus, the Agni grows weak and sluggish over time (Manda Agni) and as a result, the presence of Ama increases leading to more and more imbalance and dis-ease.
The solution, from Ayurveda's perspective, is as always, to treat the root of the problem! A cellulite-reducing protocol would be to strengthen Agni, to get the lymphatic system pumping, to reduce toxic inputs and to support the efficient removal of accumulated toxins. A Kapha-blancing protocol, in which the focus is on reduction, rather than building, will gradually assist the body in removing the toxicity that overburdens it, leading to a reduction in the existence of cellulite, all naturally.
Some cellulite-reducing Ayurvedic protocols that we recommend are:
Kapha Abhyanga Oil
Kapha-Reducing Diet + Herbs
Brushing the body with a dry-brush offers the Gunas (qualities) of dryness, lightness, roughness, and heat (if done vigorously) which are all medicine for Kapha Dosha's cold, heavy, wet, dense, slow and oily qualities.
Garshana stimulates the lymphatic system to move, allowing it to transport the toxic residue of poor digestion to the lymph nodes, where they can then be excreted from the body.
To practice Garshana, use our organic jute Garshana Glove to brush the skin with long strokes along the limbs and circular strokes around the joints, always moving in the direction of the heart.
KAPHA ABHYANGA OIL
Although oil can be highly aggravating to Kapha Dosha, our Kapha Abhyanga Oil is formulated with Kapha-reducing herbs that stimulate, enliven and uplift. Although while on a cellulite/kapha-reducing regime, you might well be able to dry-brush every day, someone with a Kapha-imbalance would benefit from Abhyanga about once per week. Slather this oil on the body, in the same way as you did with the dry-brush. Let it soak in for at least 15 minutes and then follow up with a warm shower.
Kicking off your cellulite-reducing protocol with a short Ayurvedic cleanse is a very impactful way of giving your Agni the necessary rest it needs from unhelpful dietary choices and giving it the time and reprieve to reset and return to balance; to what Ayurveda calls Sama Agni (even/balanced digestive fire).
At RASA Ayurveda, we offer guidance on how you can implement your own kitchari cleanse at home. Kitchari is a well-known Ayurvedic rice, mung bean and vegetable stew which creates a gentle lekhana (scraping) effect in the digestive system, allowing toxins to be removed, and is simple enough for most to digest, giving Agni the opportunity to heal.
We share the Kitchari Cleanse in two ways:
1. KITCHARI KITS: all the ingredients you will need to cook your own Kitchari cleanse in your kitchen. Just add Dosha-appropriate veggies & oils!
2. THE KIND CLEANSE: a tailored-to-you, pre-made Kitchari Cleanse delivered to your door. Available in 3, 5, or 10 day programs. (TORONTO AREA ONLY)
KAPHA-REDUCING DIET & HERBS
Following your cleanse, it is best to begin following a Kapha-balancing diet. This means focusing on including the Rasas (tastes) of pungent, bitter and astringent and the gunas of warm, light and drying.
PUNGENT (fire + air): cayenne, chilli pepper, black pepper, mustard, ginger, asafoetida (hing), onion, radish, garlic, black pepper
BITTER (air + ether): bitter melon, turmeric, dandelion, aloe vera, fenugreek, neem, coffee (in moderation and only for those with obvious Kapha imbalance)
ASTRINGENT (air + earth): unripe plantain, pomegranate, chickpeas, yellow split peas, most raw vegetables
Focus on cooked and warm meals that are on the lighter side, avoiding the use of a lot of oils and fats. Eat 3 meals at regular times every day. Other spices that will facilitate Kapha balance are cinnamon, cumin, fenugreek, & cardamom. Supportive herbs include Neem, Triphala, Pau D'Arco, Spirulina, etc.
Do consult with an Ayurvedic professional before taking any herbs for therapeutic purposes.
Vyayama (to exert), or regular daily exercise, is highly encouraged in Ayurveda. In fact, in ancient India, communities often would maintain an exercise centre called a Vyayamasala.
Regular exercise is absolutely essential for balancing high Kapha Dosha. In this case, it is recommended to engage in exercise styles that are invigorating, challenging and that include moderate cardio. However, Ayurveda always suggested to only exercise to half of one's capacity, so while moving your body is important, it's also important not to exercise to the point of depletion. Regularity is more important than pushing yourself to a point of exhaustion.
Through exercise, you will actually be able to generate more energy for yourself, giving you the motivation to continue to enjoy and stick with your exercise program over time.
Following these few suggestions will help you to treat cellulite at its source, while also balancing your entire body, the Doshas, Dhatus and all the systems. So a lifestyle shift that was once motivated mostly by vanity, now becomes a path to rediscovering full health and balance on all levels.