Slowing Down — Living Primed
My Experience with The Prime Program
It is said that approximately every 27 days our skin regenerates itself. The stomach lining replaces itself every four days, and our stomach cells are being replaced by the minute. Our bodies are constantly transforming the food we eat and nutrients we assimilate into life energy. So naturally, what we eat has a major impact on how successful our bodies are at transformation. What we eat — literally — is what we become. This idea nods to the sentiment, “you are what you eat.” And if this is true, we each have a choice in what we are made of. We each hold the power to choose what we eat.
I adopted ayurveda into my lifestyle in 2012 after receiving my first ayurvedic consultation. I cut out the major parts of my diet which were contributing to my stressed-out, anxious nature (Vata): cold drinks, loads of black beans and garbanzo beans, raw foods, and dry crunchy foods. I added in more warm drinks and aimed to cook, or eat well-cooked food for the majority of my meals — oh, so Vata pacifying. I also added Maharishi Ayurveda herbal preparations to my daily routine, my favorite being Worry Free. I felt different within the first few days of adopting this new lifestyle. I was noticeably calmer and I started to feel more like myself.
Just a few months after I adopted ayurveda into my life and aimed to live a less-stressed and healthier life, an awful digestion issue that I had dealt with a few years prior showed up again. I had experienced sharp, debilitating pains in my abdomen after I ate particular heavy foods or fried foods. After a few lab tests, I was informed that I needed to have my gallbladder removed. My imbalance was hereditary, and I had developed over 60 gallstones — my gallbladder was toxic. Just after surgery, my surgeon made the comment, “That unhealthy gallbladder didn’t belong in your healthy body!” After recovery from surgery, I noticed a difference in my digestion — it was still sensitive, but smoother and easier. I was able to manage my modified organ structure and transformation process with mindful eating, embracing many of the dietary principles of ayurveda. I eat my main meal at lunch, and a lighter well-cooked dinner. I take Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus). I avoid cold foods and drinks. And, along with the help of ayurvedic herbs, I am able to relieve my stress, and stay calm, with the practices of yoga asana and Transcendental Meditation®. At this point my digestion was managed, but occasionally it was still irregular.
I couldn’t help but feel that my body needed some kind of cleanse or reset in order to function optimally again…
I am the Social Media Manager for vpk® by Maharishi Ayurveda. We work closely on many projects with Integrative Neurologist Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, who is an inspiring voice for the movement of ayurveda in the West. She is an advocate for our brand and is featured in many videos on our Maharishi Ayurveda YouTube Channel. We learned last year that she was to publish her first book at the beginning of 2016. Because of my job, I was sent an early copy of the book, and I read it cover-to-cover as part of my marketing “research and development” (R&D). As I read the book, Dr. Chaudhary’s compassionate and down-to-earth tone resonated with me. The further along I got in the book, and after taking the Gut I.Q. Quiz, I realized that I needed to do a cleanse! My digestion was managed, but it was not great. My gut needed to be primed! So in the vein of self-love (and R&D), I decided to start the 4-step program outlined in Dr. Chaudhary’s book: The Prime: Prepare and Repair Your Body for Spontaneous Weight Loss.
The Start and Stop
I decided, based on my results from The Prime Gut I.Q. Test, that I was going to complete the Fast Track and spend just two weeks on each of the four stages of the program. “Oh, I got this! No big deal.” However, that isn’t how it worked out.
A few of the Stage One habits were simple to add in. Garshana (dry-brushing) was the easiest to add into my morning ayurvedic routine. Some of the other habits were a bit harder to swallow — like that Detox Tea! After the first few days of starting The Prime, I started experiencing headaches in the afternoons, and I felt very tired — signs that my body was detoxing. The headaches subsided after the first week, and I was steadfast on the program.
It was mid-February and everyone around me seemed to be getting sick, but not me! I hadn’t been sick in about two years. However, that all changed when bronchitis hit me. Boooo! I’ve had a history of upper-respiratory imbalance and allergies (that, along with my irregular digestion, point to ama, or digestive toxins — good thing I was doing a cleanse!). According to ayurveda, respiratory imbalances are a sign of digestive impurities, which explains why I’ve had these most of my adult life. The bronchitis knocked me down. However, I continued The Prime program, and continued working full time and teaching the yoga classes I lead each week. I was going full speed, determined to spend my two weeks on Stage One and move on. However, my body was signaling for more of my attention. It was flagging me down, begging for me to slow down. But I’m a multi-tasking, Vata-predominant person who is used to going full speed!
By week three of bronchitis, I threw in the white towel. I felt awful. I allowed myself to take a break from The Prime program. I had my yoga classes subbed, and I took time off from work. All I could do was sleep. My body needed rest and repair. “Slow it down, Ms. Vata, slow it down.”
The Second Go
After a week of just taking it easy, faithful daily meditation, a lot of Restorative Yoga and eating tons of coconut Thai soup and cooked veggies, my health returned. It felt like I had released some deep toxins from my body, after having been sick for three weeks. I was rested and ready to start The Prime program again. The second time I started Stage One, I maintained my determination, but allowed myself the space to take my time. Why was I trying to rush through a cleanse? Just as Dr. Chaudhary writes in The Prime, “Make it your Prime. You should stay here until your body has reaped all the available benefits from Stage One. When you reach a new equilibrium and your detox symptoms abate, you are ready to move to the next stage.”
I am not even sure how much time I spent on Stage One during the second go-around — but I just went with it. I had very few detox symptoms the second time, and things went smoothly. I started to notice a dramatic difference in my body. I felt lighter, more toned, and noted the loss of cellulite on my legs (from dry brushing). Just from Stage One! Wow!
When I felt that the habits were ingrained into my daily life, I eventually moved on to Stage Two.
Stage Two of The Prime added in new habits in addition to the routines from Stage One and, although there were more habits stacked, the entire program started to become less work. It became much easier to complete each day, and these changes to my routine just started to become… habits.
I noticed a generally calm vibe in my life. I was at a busy point with work (Social Media never sleeps), and I was traveling a lot for an advanced yoga school training. The Prime program seemed to fit right in, and I started to feel really great! People around me began to comment on how different I looked — like I had lost weight, and I seemed happy. Dr. Chaudhary explains that Stage Two will bring an “even-keeled mood with less highs and lows throughout the day.”
In a recent article, Dr. Chaudhary commented, “As people progress on The Prime, their toxic, inflammatory weight spontaneously begins to fall off, but the toxic emotions that have been hidden deep within the subconscious mind also come up to the surface.” I can attest to this experience. As I continued the program, I began experiencing the most vivid dreams! So many vivid dreams about places and faces I haven’t seen or thought of in years, and places I have never been to — all of which seemed so real. I would wake up thinking — “Wow! Why is that coming back up? I had forgotten all about that! I was out there in that dream… but it seemed so real.”
Dr. Chaudhary explains more on this idea in a webinar hosted by The Prime Club. (Check out the full audio here.) The extremely vivid dreams I was experiencing were all a part of the brain-gut connection reset. Ah, this explained so much!
I have been a vegetarian for about eight years, so I braced myself for Stage Three of The Prime… which includes bone broth. “Ew!”, as I told a friend who loves to cook about the program and my natural resistance to not only drinking the broth — but to making it! I am sure my friend could hear the uncertainty in my voice, so she agreed to help me make the broth. What a good friend! (She is also a vegetarian.) We had no idea what we were doing, but we bought the bones (which came from humanely-treated, organically-raised, local cows), brewed up a huge batch of broth, and bottled it up.
Dr. Chaudhary explains “Although I still don’t like the idea of eating animals, Prime Broth is so healing and mineralizing that I believe it is worth making an exception. If you are willing to try it, it can make a big difference in the speed of your digestive healing.” (Please note: the bone broth is a recommendation in The Prime, but not a requirement to complete the program.)
This was the hardest step for me in The Prime program. However, I vowed to wholeheartedly participate, and I was dedicated to healing my body. Although the broth tasted like meat to me, I reminded myself of the healing effects it was having on my body, and I was encouraged by Dr. Chaudhary’s words: “Before I drink it, I say a little prayer of gratitude, acknowledging the exchange of energy; I feel tremendous gratitude and bless the sacrifice made on my behalf.” This was not one of the habits from The Prime that will stick with me (more on that to come), but I did have tremendous gratitude for the healing that I believe it brought.
I drank a lot of juice a few years ago, but I had really fallen out of the habit. So, reintroducing Prime Juice was amazing! Unintentionally, Prime Broth and Prime Juice started replacing meals for me. I welcomed a hearty lunch each day, and I found myself less hungry for breakfast and dinner.
My partner and I have a nice routine of eating meals together. We typically eat the same thing, as many couples do. However, he is quite Kapha in constitution, and I am quite Vata, which are seemingly opposites (those attract, right?). My partner is a vegetarian as well and was not on The Prime program, and he said “no way” to even trying the Prime Broth (steadfast Kapha). I was cooking a lot of Prime Broth curry soups, which I loved, and my dietary requirements were much different than his. So I allowed myself to “do my own thing” for meals, and he did his. We prepped our own meals, independent of each other, but often sat down to eat together in the evenings.
This brought up an interesting observation for me. How often are we eating our meals for other people? Eating at restaurants that do not cater towards our personal preferences, or eating out — period — when all we want to do is stay at home and cook a meal? For me, this was a common occurrence. So, being on The Prime program, I had an excuse to “do my own thing” — eat meals for myself that were balancing for my unique physiology, on a schedule that worked for me. Isn’t this a healthier habit anyway?
I have spent the past four years traveling six hours away from home to attend a wonderful yoga school. I completed a level-one training and was working towards my level-two advanced certification. I had a plan (a Vata plan to make it happen!) to push through and finish my training before I moved to another state at the end of this summer. This was a lofty goal, even for the most determined person. My friends and family (although they probably recognized how crazy my plan was) loyally stood by me as I attempted the seemingly impossible.
As I progressed through The Prime, I began to feel great physically and mentally more clear, and I started to feel uncomfortable with the pace that I was pushing in my life. I questioned why I was rushing… What’s the rush?!
The let-go happened slowly… I considered slowing my pace down to finish my training, making the long(er) commute after I moved and spending the next year or so finishing up my advanced yoga training. It was becoming obvious to me that the pace and (self-imposed) pressure to push through my training was no longer serving me. Dr. Chaudhary explains that this is also a part of The Prime process. Many people experience “dissatisfaction” and start “questioning their life purpose.” I doubted that, until I realized it was happening to me.
So, I let go, even more. I decided to complete the training I was in, and I made no future arrangements to continue. I decided to be content with where I am, what I have learned, and the yoga teacher I am right now. Ah! This felt so good to just accept myself and be content.
Stage Three: Feeling It
I started Stage Three, and by this point on the program, I was experiencing a bit of fatigue in my body. I broke out on my face where I never have before. I felt the need to nourish and love my body, so I cut down on my vigorous yoga classes and opted for a gentle home asana practice. I started taking more slow morning walks around my neighborhood. I have learned to love this beautiful and peaceful way to start the day (ayurveda recommends this as the ideal way to start the day).
I had heard from a few people that one particular herb in Stage Three could be a challenging herb for Vata constitution, which I totally believe to be true. My menstrual cycle had completed two weeks prior, so I was a bit confused when I started having what felt like PMS symptoms again. I struggled through a few days, and took a lot of time out to just relax. Sure enough, I had a second menstrual cycle, two weeks after my last and two weeks before I was due for my next one. Ayurveda considers the monthly cycle less of a burden and more of an opportunity for detox. My body was definitely detoxing! After my second cycle ended, the challenging herb was less intense, and my detox symptoms subsided.
Stage Four: Living Primed
Many of the habits from Stage Four are habits that I had already adopted into my life years prior — like eating my main meal at lunch and practicing Transcendental Meditation — and as such, I was beginning to feel that the program was coming full circle and integrating into my life. The steps that had stacked from each stage, each day, didn’t feel like a chore, but rather, they felt like simple daily maintenance. My digestion and elimination seemed quite regular, which was impressive considering I took a few trips that would normally have knocked my digestion out of whack for days.
I had a lot of energy by this point. Surprisingly, my morning walks became morning runs. And this felt amazing! I started to feel as if my body was repaired and I was prepared for anything!
The Slow Down
I woke up one day and decided that would be the last week I’d do the program — R&D was complete and life was good. I was feeling great and settling into my new mental clarity and slower pace that had come with three months of the program.
The Prime program proved to be a challenging, yet a nourishing experience for me. I learned how to listen to all of the cues my body was signaling and I felt much more content in my life.
After I completed the full program, I retained many of the habits:
- Daily Garshana
- Prime Juice (a few times a week)
- Curry vegetable soups for dinner (not every night, but at least a few times a week)
- Morning walks, or sometimes runs
- One particular herb resonated with me as a major stress reducer — so I decided to continue my daily use.
- Per Dr. Chaudhary’s encouragement, “GO SLOWER.” I am more conscious now of when I am speeding through things, multi-tasking too much at one time. So now, I gently allow myself to go slower. This feels so good!
The Prime program was a life-changing experience for me. Yes, I adopted great eating and dietary habits; yes, I learned to eat intentionally and choose what I put into my belly (“you are what you eat”); and yes, I lost weight. But the unexpected gain was the increase in vitality that I cultivated, and my mental clarity. The program allowed me to find patience with my body (especially on those days I was showing up to teach my yoga class, pimples and all), and slow my life down; stop putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect, to complete every single thing perfectly, every single day. I cultivated the compassion and gratitude to just be the best Vata-predominant version of myself that I can be.
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have experienced this dramatic shift in my life, simply from doing a little “marketing research” for my job. I have and I will continue to recommend the program to anyone. I plan to do it as an annual reset for myself. For now, I am settling into my new pace of life — happy, healthy, and primed!
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