What does Ekadashi mean?

Ekadashi means ‘11’ and is a commitment to a spiritual path and the teachings of Vishnu. In Hindu teachings those who follow Ekadashi fasting are freed from their sins. This article is a little less about Hindu teachings in depth, but if you would like to read more about the religious side of Ekadashi you can find a great source of learning here:

https://www.hindujagruti.org/hinduism/vrat/ashadhi-ekadashi

Ekadashi follows the Hindu calendar, occurring on the 11th day of each period and is based on the movement and position of the moon. There are two periods within the month in accordance with the movement of the moon. The first Ekadashi period (called Sud or Sukla Pax) occurs when the moon is at its closest point to the earth (and increasing in size to us) and the second period (Vad or Krshan Pax) occurs when the moon is at its furthest point from the earth (and decreasing in size to us).

So what are the benefits of Ekadashi Fasting?

Mentally fasting is quite difficult so following an Ekadashi fast builds mental control, stability, resilience and patience. Practising a short fast also increases the ability to negotiate the need for instant gratification constantly with food and drink that is detrimental to our health. In other words you start to learn how to go without the bad stuff or the things we tend to ‘crave’ and how life isn’t so bad when you cut certain things out. This is a fundamental learning aspect involved in overcoming addiction.

Physical benefits of Ekadashi Fasting

Ekadashi - The Yogic way to detox letting the digestive system have a break

Ekadashi – Lets the digestive system have a break

Physically the benefits of short, periodic fasts include letting the digestive system have a break. Our smooth muscle (organs) is constantly working and even though we rest and sleep our organs do not. They are constantly moving from contraction to relaxation. Giving them a rest increases their vitality and performance especially if our diet consists of poor food and drink choices and if we eat at the wrong times (e.g. before exercise or going to bed).

The human body is a piece of biological machinery and is designed to break down natural food from the biological earth. Not man-made chemicals that the body has to work twice as hard to break down and metabolise. Fasting also aids in the body removing toxins from the body stored in such as the liver and large intestine which can help prevent illness and disease. The digestive system is vital in overall health!. A couple of extra hours a month to commit entirely to self-development! Great!!

Ekadashi Fasting Calendar

If the moon can control an entire earth of tides it can definitely affect what’s happening inside of you! Fasting is timed around this period in line with the pull of the moon on an empty stomach and through eliminating fluids out of the body. Fasting over two days in each calendar month will also gift you spare time to commit to other spiritual practices such as meditation, reading and self-care. A couple of extra hours a month to commit entirely to self-development! Great!!

A full Ekadashi fast follows the times as set out in the calendar for the UK which can be found here;

https://www.drikpanchang.com/vrats/ekadashidates.html?geoname-id=2643743

Guidelines for Ekadashi Fasting

When following an Ekadashi fast the last thing eaten is before the sunrises and the first thing eaten post fast is after the sun has risen. A full fast is ideal, to fully allow the digestive system to rest and recuperate. The exceptions of food if vital, are fruits, nuts and milk (although the quality of our milk produce is now questionable).

Water of course can still be consumed. Warm water is particularly kind on the digestive system. Breaking the fast should be after taking a warm bath as this helps to soften the body. Following a fast; lemon, salt and warm water are used to completely cleanse and flush out the system in line with the pull of the moon. Salt absorbs water and dislodges toxins and cleanses the gut.

What to do after fasting

Ekadashi - The Yogic way to detox - lemon water

Lemon water as part of the Ekadashi Fasting process

After fasting take a warm bath first. Following the times outlined in the calendar drink warm water mixed with a full lemon juiced and a tablespoon of salt (this can be adjusted with practice by judging the after ‘effects’ to put it politely, of the fast). This isn’t a particularly pleasant experience (there, you have been warned) and may very well lead to you feeling sick before you start to eliminate the gut. Salt water is not something the body tends to take in easily. However, the effects of this drink take place pretty quickly as the digestive system begins excretion. Once the body feels settled a banana is recommended followed by a light breakfast. Food is then continued as normal!

Just remember the purpose of an Ekadasih fast isn’t to lose weight or for aesthetic reasons and should only be undertaken by those wishing to take great care of their internal health.