Updated: Oct 28, 2022
"Fasting blinds the body in order to open the eyes of your soul." - Rumi
Day 1: Sunday 16.10.2022
For the next ten days, I am taking myself on a retreat without going anywhere – at least physically not going anywhere – and carrying on with the usual buzzing that my life has. When I started to practise, study and integrate yoga, meditation and its philosophy in my daily life, I did so with the intention to find a way to channel my energy and to keep calm and peaceful when confronted with challenging situations. As much as I love a nice retreat in a new environment, I was not looking to step out of my life and contemplate from afar – even though I think that way of doing things is very enriching as well –, I was looking to reflect on situations while they were unfolding and adapt my way of thinking, experiencing and behaving accordingly. It requires a lot of self-awareness, presence and patience (a lot of patience :D), but the journey is worth the effort.
I haven't done a long fast in a while; it's been a challenge to integrate longer fasts in my day-to-day life, I have mostly kept to my one day a week fasts and three days monthly fasts. There have been a few 5 or 6 days fasts (attempting to do longer ones probably :D) here and there. I have been postponing this one for a few weeks now, but the time is finally here: I am committing to this. More than committing, I am ready to receive this gift. I am looking forward to see what comes up and shifts this time around.
The day went by fast; I was pretty busy in the morning and I gave class in the afternoon so there weren't that much time to think about the fact that I am starting a longer fast. Also, because I usually eat my first meal of the day after 12h, there were no hunger pains. We'll see tomorrow. The first couple of days are usually the hardest to get through for me, the time for the body to adjust to not get any food.
Day 2: Monday 17.10.2022
I slept so good last night. I had slept very few hours for the three nights before, my body was ready to surrender and rest. I woke up early and slow – my favourite way to wake up –, and that gave me the time to do my pranayama and meditation practice before and during the rising of the sun. I did a few things around the house; it just hit me yesterday that I am going away next week, I have some things to organise before leaving. I took care of some of them and practise The Rocket I. I enjoyed it, my body felt open and my mind joyful – a welcome contrast to how I was feeling just two days prior.
I had a couple of interesting epiphanies while moving in and out of poses (I guess epiphanies usually tend to be interesting :D)
I do not feel hungry, which is good. I am drinking some teas and infusions for the first few days, I am unsure if I will do two or three days like that. I like to break down longer fasts in sections of days, and essentially incorporate various styles of fasting within the time frame of a long fast. This is more or less what I have in mind this time around:
Day 1 & 2: teas and infusions only
Day 3 & 4: Dry fast
Day 5 & 6: psyllium husk and bentonite clay
Day 7 & 8: water only
Day 9 & 10: bone broth and/or juice fast
Day 3: Tuesday 18.10.2022
Yesterday was hard. It had nothing to do with the fasting, I feel OK physically. There has been no sign of hunger physically, nor mentally – the latter surprises me the most. Now that I have done fasting for a while, I have noticed how much of hunger is in the mind. Of course, there is true hunger when the body just needs to be nourished, but fasting made me realise how much of my hunger was driven by unconscious habits and the type of foods I put in my body. It has been a great tool to differentiate between hunger, emotional hunger (stemming from boredom, sadness or the need to be comforted) and also cravings (what is my body asking for and why). I always listen to my cravings (no matter what they are), I truly believe that they are the body's way of communicating a need because of an insufficiency in some nutrients or vitamins. Fasting has taught me a lot about myself, and it continues to do so.
Yesterday was hard emotionally. I felt myself being overwhelmed by my emotions, over a situation which is not mine but is affecting me all the same. I keep on telling myself I need to accept it and stop acting like it is happening to me, but detachment is very challenging when I am dealing with my mum. I managed to calm down despite the strong energetic pull from my emotions (and my ego), and I feel better today.
Today is dry fasting, which means I have had nothing to drink since 10pm last night. Sometimes I think that dry fasting is easier, because the taste buds are just not stimulated at all. Sometimes drinking can awaken a feeling of hunger that we did not think was there. So far so good, no food and no water.
I just came back from giving a bikram yoga class. I had taken a bottle of water in the room with me in case I would get thirsty or my mouth would get dry while guiding – that's a very uncomfortable sensation. In the end I did not drink at all, and I haven't really felt thirsty today. I did feel a little tired on the way back from seeing my mum, but I think it is more from all the crying and the release of a lot of emotions. The past 5 days have been intense, regardless of the fasting; if anything, the fasting is helpful.
I made some yummy food for my mum today. I've mentioned it in another post: I do not mind being around food (as in cooking for other people) when I am fasting. I think it is a really nice way to practise gratitude and appreciation for something, I find great satisfaction in preparing something for someone else to enjoy – even if I don't get to have it just yet. Lacking helps to not take things for granted; I always come out of fasts feeling very very grateful for the food I get to savour while mindful of what I nourish myself with. Another 7 days to think about that :D
I made my mum a vegan low carb moussaka today.
Day 4: Wednesday 19.10.2022
I woke up very early today; I usually wake up early, but not 5am early :D Fasting can sometime induce shorter sleep patterns, it can result in insomnia in some people. I did go to bed early last night, and I usually run on a 6 to 7 hours sleep so this is not too out of the ordinary. I lazed around in bed for an hour, then got up to do pranayama and meditation. I love to wake up early because I love to wake up slow: taking my time to gradually shake off the night.
I also woke up very thirsty – although I have not drunk yet. I have been dry fasting for almost 32 hours now. I am giving myself time to see if the feeling of thirst will pass, but if it doesn't I will drink again today and start with the clay and psyllium husk fast tomorrow as planned.
I decided to drink. I had some lemon water and also some himalayan salt, because I felt that my body was in need of it. I feel mentally sharp and awake, but my physical body was feeling tired as I woke up. My period came on a couple of days after I started the fast, so the physical fatigue is due to that. Anyway, I feel better now. I have now entered the phase where I will not feel hunger anymore – not that I did up to now, but hunger pains (if any) tend to disappear around this time in longer fasts. It doesn't mean that the mental doesn't try to get you to give in to the temptations :D. However, I have to say that, after day 3, I just don't feel like giving up to start all over again. It doesn't make sense after having invested so much time and effort already.
I just came back from capoeira class; I was a little bit light-headed during the dynamic warm-up (although having lots of energy), but that went away once I got into the groove of everything. It was great to move.
I am definitely in the "I-feel-like-I-could-never-eat-it-again-and-be-fine-about-it" phase of longer fasts: my mind is super sharp and focused, and my senses heightened. One of the things on my to-do list today was to prepare a presentation in Spanish; I thought it would take me a while (I sometimes procrastinate and, in doing so, I drag things on for longer than they concretely need to be if I just put my head down and focus. There was no procrastinating today, I finished a project I wanted to do this morning and wrote the presentation in under an hour – the words were just flowing out of my mind so easefully, it was very enjoyable.
I hope I manage a long and deep restful night tonight, my brain feels so alert. I'm going to read a book to quiet down a little.
Day 5: Thursday 20.10.2022
I went to bed at 11pm last night, woke up randomly around 1am and managed to fall back to sleep around 3am to wake up this morning at 6.30am. I felt like I had had enough sleep so I went on with my day, starting with my usual pranayama and meditation practice. Breathing consciously during prolonged fasts is an amazing feeling, everything feels light and open to receive. My mind feels very sharp and clear and my physical body feels strong – there is no soreness. I practised the class I am giving tonight before giving an online private class and my energy levels have not gone down.
Today and tomorrow I am drinking bentonite clay and psyllium husk; the mineral rich clay is nourishing my body and the psyllium husk helps with my gut flora and digestive system.
This is the magical phase of a long fast: I have no sensation of hunger and no desire for food, and my mind is crystal clear. I think this is the most connected to myself I have ever felt in a fasted state so far. We'll see what the other half of this fast has in store.
Day 6: Friday 21.10.2022
I had a good night sleep. I fell asleep around 9.30pm and woke up and 4.30am. I wouldn't normally be up at 4.30am (I like waking up early, but not THAT early yet); however it was exactly what I needed today as I had some things to do this morning. I love being very productive in the morning, while also having the time to enjoy my morning self-care routine – which is why waking early is so great.
I did an entire day of bentonite clay and psyllium husk (with lots of water in between)) yesterday. That triggered my first bowel movement since the beginning of the fast, which surprised me because I definitely didn't feel like I needed to. Psyllium husk is pure fiber and is amazing to cleanse the digestive track. I feel very cleansed (physically and mentally) it. It is said that our stomach is our second brain, and that taking care of our gut microbiome is essential to our overall well-being.
I think it is the most serene prolonged fast I have ever done.
I had a really nice and productive day today, a long day but I feel okay. I think I will sleep well, I hope anyway. My skin looks amazing; I don't have skin problems (very grateful about that) in general, but my skin always glows when I do a fast. Overall, I feel very healthy. I think I lost about 3 to 4 kilos max, I am a little slender but nothing unhealthy looking. I think because I have been practising fasting for a long time now and because I take care of myself daily, the significant changes I notice are mostly on the emotional and spiritual planes. It is fascinating to feel the shifts that have taken place over the years. I'm glad I decided to write about some of my experiences with fasting over the years, it is interesting to go back to those experiences and it gives me inspiration. Being a source of inspiration for myself is extremely empowering.
Day 7: Saturday 22.10.2022
My pranayama and meditation practice was nothing short of magical this morning; I experienced the temperature and texture (texture would most often be used to describe something tangible, but this is how close I felt to my breath – as though I could taste it) of each inhale and exhale like it was the first time. It is quite strange that we are so detached from an act that keeps us alive, yet we tend to take it for granted most of the time. Breathing consciously daily is not only a time of great connection with myself , it is a connection with something much bigger.
Today was a beautiful day, the temperatures are unusually high for this time of year, and I am making the most of it. I have been very productive today while also taking the time to be in nature and take in some sun energy. I still feel very good. I gave a bikram yoga class this morning, I had really high energy. it was really fun, the group was really focused even though it was very hot and humid this morning.
I had some lemon and salt this morning and I bought some fresh turmeric to make an infusion this afternoon. I will do the same thing tomorrow and on Monday I will start the process towards breaking the fast by making a bone broth and some fresh vegetable juices. Easing back into eating nice and slow :D.
For now, I am going to chill out – tomorrow I teach three classes, I need rest.
This is a good representation of how I felt today: still water and a bright open blue sky.
Day 8: Sunday 23.10.2022
Today was a really long day, so long that I did not have the time to sit down and write. I don´t really have much to say to be honest. I feel good. I gave three classes, 2 in the morning and one in the evening. In between I did some self-care and also prepared for my upcoming travel to Spain. The day went by so fast.
My mouth was a little dry earlier but I put some himalayan salt on half a lemon to suck on and that did the trick – taking some extra minerals is really the key if and when there are signs of tiredness and thirst. I feel renewed now. Tomorrow I will start preparing my body to welcome food again, I am making a bone broth, and I will have some coconut yogurt either tomorrow or Tuesday and some juices. My skin is radiant and I feel extremely cleansed and healthy. It is a wonderful sensation.
Day 9: Monday 24.10.2022
The broth is absolutely delicious, what beautiful avalanche of flavours for my taste buds :D.
Today was a beautiful day – I spent it with my mum in the village where she lives. I made her a yummy lunch, we went to enjoy the insanely hot temperatures we are having at the moment, and then played cards. I made her dinner and we watched a documentary. It was very relaxing.
I had bone broth throughout the day to start breaking my fast gently with fat and nutrients. I didn't have any juices in the end – just lemon juice this morning, I didn't feel like juicing. Tomorrow I will have some yogurt to feed my gut flora some good stuff before I start eating again. The process of easing out of a prolonged fast is a key step: it is important to take the time to plan how food will be re-introduced and when. It is a very gentle process where we mindfully connect with food again, savouring every moment of the transitioning out of physical fasting into nourishing the physical body again. I emphasize physical because, while I purposely take something away from my physical body temporarily, my mind and soul are immensely nourished in that period of time. It is challenging to describe in words, but I feel very light and joyful, in my body, in my heart and in my mind.
Day 10: Tuesday 25.10.2022
The last day of prolonged fast always feels a little surreal – it seemed so far away ten days ago, but here I am. What a journey inside myself. There is a sense a accomplishment of course, however this seems to fade in intensity from fast to fast. More than an accomplishment, this has shifted into a magical learning experience, with so many takeaways.
I'm having a soy yogurt as I write this, eating it very slowly, looking at the texture, allowing the taste to linger in my mouth – building this new relationship with an act that is often overlooked.
I did not know when I planned this fast, but my last day coincides with the new moon, a partial solar eclipse and Diwali (India's festival of lights); how wonderful is that!! What a blessing :D
I just had some homemade cabbage and mushroom soup, I am now getting more nutrients and vitamins in my system without stressing my body with solid foods just yet. The soup was very tasty, I made it for my mum, but I took a little bit home for me. I have an online private class now, the energy boost is welcome.
Well, this is it. Technically my ten days fast is officially over – I always start fasts the evening before the first day of the fast. I ate more yogurt after the soup, and later on I had some avocado with coriander with a coconut flour and psyllium husk flatbread (I had made it for the first time yesterday for my mum). I ate a little more than I had planned on originally doing because I am going for lunch tomorrow (it will be light :D) and I wanted to prep my stomach a little bit. It feels good, I can feel the energy from the food, all the vitamins and nutrients entering and nourishing every system in my body.
This has been the most enriching and rewarding prolonged fast I have done so far – a lot has come up (and out) from this experience. The sense of peace and calmness runs deep. It took a lot longer than I wanted to be here again, but I'm so glad I finally did. My goal is once again to do longer fasts a few times a year, while keeping the weekly and monthly shorter ones in place. We'll see, longer fasts demand more planning and organisation, but the intention is definitely there.