I am continually amazed at the comprehensiveness of Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings for the balanced development of body, mind and spirit. There is almost no aspect of our lives to which Yogananda hasn’t applied the ancient science of yoga, and given us a practical, straight-forward regime to follow—getting along with your employer, developing personality, finding the correct spouse, destroying bad habits, making friends, overcoming nervousness—to mention only a few.
The list of subjects to which Yogananda applied his cosmic vision is seemingly endless, and all this was in addition to his real mission—to bring us practical and proven techniques for soul liberation. No wonder he said, “If you do one-hundredth of what I’ve given you, it is sufficient.”
One of Yogananda‘s practical regimes for personal improvement that I’ve taken to heart is his “Nine-Day Cleansing and Vitalizing Diet.” Since the first time I tried it many years ago, I’ve experienced remarkable results, and have tried to do it with groups, a few others, or alone each year.
What is the Nine-Day Cleansing Diet? The brief description that follows provides all the information needed for you to successfully complete the diet.
The food allowed each day for the nine days is:
1 ½ grapefruits
1 ½ lemons
1 cooked vegetable with juice (quantity optional)
1 raw vegetable salad
1 glass orange juice*
3 cups of Vitality Beverage (one cup at each meal)
*to be taken every night before going to bed with ½ tsp. of senna leaves or Swiss Kriss, and later increase to 1 tsp.
2 stalks chopped celery
5 carrots (chopped) including part of stem
1 bunch chopped parsley
½ qt. chopped dandelion, or turnip greens, or spinach
1 qt. water
No salt or spices
The vitality beverage may be prepared in two ways, the first being preferable:
1. After putting celery and carrots through food processor, or chopping them finely, lightly boil them in the water for ten minutes. Then add selected greens and parsley and boil ten minutes more. Strain by squeezing through a cheesecloth.
2. Use the same ingredients, but do not cook them. After putting them through a vegetable juicer, strain as above.
Drink one cup of the beverage, prepared by either method, at each of the three meals. That’s it—nothing more, nothing less.
The vitality beverage is essential to the cleansing action of the diet. I’ve tried both of the above two ways of preparing it and prefer the first, which involves boiling the chopped vegetables.
The raw vegetable method produces a juice similar to fresh carrot juice. The cooked method produces a bland-tasting broth similar, for those of you familiar with it, to Beiler’s “Potassium Broth” or Paavo Aerola’s broth, both of which are recommended for cleansing purposes. Try both the boiled and raw vegetable methods and decide for yourself.
What results have I experienced?
- Vitalization and healing of the body.
- Freedom from psychological dependency on food.
- Breaking of bad eating habits.
- Five to ten pound weight loss.
- Cleansing of skin, eyes, lungs and intestines.
- Improved health for a period of months.
- Increase energy level and need for less sleep.
- Rejuvenation of body and mind.
- Increased clarity of mind.
- Greater awareness of subtle flow of life force.
- Deepening sense of joy.
- Deeper, more inspired meditations.
Sound too good to be true? There are, let me assure you, challenges. It takes a strong will and self-discipline to finish the full nine days.
You may experience irritability in the first few days. Whether this reaction is caused by the release of toxins, I don’t know, but it’s wise to give someone on the diet a wide berth during the first few days. My husband, Jyotish, and I have an agreement that anything said during the beginning of the diet cannot be held against us. This plan has worked well, and we’ve stayed together through many successful attempts at the cleansing diet.
Sometimes people have headaches during the first few days, especially those addicted to coffee or black tea. The headaches seem to be caused by caffeine withdrawal.
You may also find a psychological change in your attitude towards food. Although you are actually eating large quantities of food, because the food is without salt, oil, or seasonings of any kind, it doesn’t provide the sensory satisfaction that we usually get from food. You may find yourself not interested in food at all.
Interested in trying the diet?
Here are a few tips I’ve discovered:
1. Practice Yogananda’s Energization Exercises at least once a day during the diet. Your awareness of subtle life energy is greatly increased at this time, and you can feel more sensitively the flow of prana through the medulla to the body parts.
2. Take regular sunbaths exposing as much of the body as possible to direct sunlight. Yogananda said you can receive up to ten times the benefit from solar energy if you consciously draw it into your body cells.
3. I find the Nine-Day Diet easiest to complete during the spring or summer months, which seems to be a natural cleansing time for the body. Also, because of the decreased caloric intake, the body tends to feel cold during the diet, which is less of a problem in the warm weather. In the spring and summer, there is also a greater variety of vegetables available for steaming.
4. Yogananda also recommends taking nightly warm baths with Epsom salts or some other good bath salt. The cleansing and rejuvenation of the skin produced by the diet are remarkable, and these warm salt baths aid in this process.
5. The regime of food consumption that works best for me is: Breakfast—grapefruits and vitality beverage; lunch—salad and vitality beverage; and dinner—steamed vegetables, lemons and vitality beverage, with oranges eaten through the day. Experiment and find what works best for you.
6. When coming off the diet, eat lightly and simply for the first few days. Someone once said, “Any fool can fast, but it takes a wise man to end his fast well.”
Yogananda called this Nine-Day Cleansing Diet “a method for rejuvenating the body cells and awakening the latent powers of the mind and the inner forces of the soul.” I heartily encourage you to launch into this spiritual adventure and challenge, and enjoy for yourself its remarkable benefits.
This article first appeared in print in Spring 2010: “Paramhansa Yogananda’s Nine-Day Cleansing and Revitalizing Diet,” Swami Kriyananda, Clarity Magazine.
Other Clarity articles by Devi Novak are listed under “Nayaswami Devi.”