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Paramhansa Yogananda’s Nine-Day Cleansing and Revitalizing Diet

by Devi Novak
Spring 2010 27 Comments

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
5 oranges
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.

Vitality Beverage:
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.

Reprinted from Clarity Magazine, July 1988. Nayaswami Devi, together with her husband Nayaswami Jyotish, is Co-Acharya (Spiritual Director) for Ananda Sangha Worldwide.

Other Clarity articles by Devi Novak are listed under “Nayaswami Devi.”

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27 Comments »

  • Carien says:

    Tried it once for 9 days in February, and it was the best diet/ cleansing I ever did. ( and I did a lot!) Because of the citrus fruits I had no trouble with the intestines. I could not eat so many citrus! I did not have the senna of the Swiss stuff. I just used some herbal laxative tea in the evening. That was enough. In the salad I used half an avocado and tomatoes etc and I worked during the cleansing, no trouble at all. All the benefits that are mentioned here are true. Unbelievable! In a few weeks I will do a seclusion in my home and will do the cleansing again.
    I wonder how it will be a second time. Thank you for sharing!

  • Nitin says:

    I am currently a student at ananda India and have just received my discipleship on masters birthday.

    Thanks for the post! I am planning to start the 9 day cleansing and revitalization diet from tomorrow.

    Have two questions

    1)Unfortunately I couldn’t find senna leaves or Kriss Swiss laxative tablets in Gurgaon, India. Are there alternatives? Would any other herbal laxatives be used too?

    2) For the lunch, it has been suggested to take raw salad. Is it recommended to take mixed bowl of salad or just one vegetable in salad?

    Thanks and hope to hear soon.

  • bancuri noi says:

    I want to to thank you for this fantastic read! I definitely loved every bit of it. I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you
    post…

  • Zakk Bates says:

    First I just want to say thank you for this wonderful cleansing diet plan insight.

    I am, however, starting this cleanse in the winter where fresh dandelion and senna are not available to me. I’ve substituted 1/2qt. fresh dandelion for 6 tablespoons dried leaf and 6 tablespoons dried root. I must say, the concoction tastes terrible! I’ve also been experiencing some nausea and headaches after stomaching it. Am I using too much?

    I also must use dried senna, so I assume 1/4 teaspoon would be equivalent to 1/2 teaspoon fresh. I am aware of the very negative repercussions of too much senna!

    Thank you again for this. I know my healing path will lead me to a blissful life.

    Bless you,

    Zakk

    • Nakin Lenti says:

      Dear Zakk,
      Thanks for your response. You can Swiss Kriss or any other herbal laxative blend. Many are available now. It sounds like your body isn’t tolerating the concoction that you made. Probably better not to use it. Headache is often a result of the cleansing, but I’ve never known anyone to have nausea. I hope this is helpful.

      Joy to you,
      Nayaswami Devi

  • Anuj says:

    Hello,

    I’ve started fasting by today, took time to gather food items from market so finally taken my first meal of orange and vitality beverage by 2:00 PM. I didn’t get parsley/grapefruits, looking for from past 2 days.

    1) Can i still fasting in absence of grapefruits/vitality beverage made without parsley? I’m looking for it and will try to include them in day 2 fast.
    2) i’m working and my timings do start by 12:00 PM in the mid day, so all my 3 meals are usually pushed late instead of starting with normal morning. Is it k, means if i take first meal by 10-11 AM, second by 2-3 PM, and third by 9-10 PM or 12-1 AM?
    3) I’ve made vitality beverage from nearly 500 gms spinach+2 stalks celery (without leafs only stem)+5 carrots, and processed in mixer juicer (except parsley since i didn’t find it). Is this the right way of doing it?
    4) Swiss Kriss/Sena Leaves is another item that i’m not been able to find here. Is there any other alternative?
    5) Are we only limited to 1 type of raw vegetable salad (no fruit) and only 1 type of cooked vegetable? Can there be multiple vegetables in raw salad/cooked one?
    6) “1 cooked vegetable with juice (quantity optional)” – what do we mean by juice here? Is it liquid cooked meal or any sort of juice to be taken with cooked vegetable like orange juice etc.?

    Please provide more details as requested, i’m very much excited and thankful with what i’ve read here and doing it.

    Thanks for all the hard work/time put towards well being for the human lives.

    Thank You,
    Anuj

    • Nakin Lenti says:

      Dear Anuj,

      Here are the answers to your questions as suggested by the author, Nayaswami Devi.

      1.) In the absence of grapefruit you can continue the fast with oranges and lemons.

      2). This is fine.

      3). Yes, this is OK

      4). Can you find psyllium husks?

      5). Yes

      6). No, it is the juice of the cooked vegetables.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Joy to you,
      Nayaswami Nakin

  • Barbara says:

    Hi! My husband and I are going to begin this cleanse on SUnday (tomorrow). I have looked around to find something to support my yoga lifestyle, and his as a runner, and I feel like this is a good cleanse for us both. I am curious about drinking green teas or Smoothe Move/ Get Regular tea in addition to the ‘prescribed’ list of food/drink. Could you help me?
    Also, is there any further information/ support about this cleanse? Should we be using any supplements or drinking lemon water with maple syrup/cayenne pepper?

    There is so much information out there about other cleanses, but very little about this one. I want to be sure we do it right, and that we get maximum results.

    Warmly,
    Barbara

    • Nakin Lenti says:

      Dear Barbara,
      In response to your questions:
      1) Master says no caffeine, so green tea is out.
      2) Any natural laxative is okay.
      3) Lots of water throughout the cleanse is good, and you can add the lemons to the water.
      4) No maple syrup-cayenne mix, so basically just what is on the list of accepted foods.
      5) Master does say you can add ground almonds to orange juice if you feel like your energy lags.

      Joy,
      Devi

  • Chris says:

    I’m on day 2 of the diet. And I must say this is hard. I’ve had bad headaches and I’ve been really grumpy (lack of food does that to me). I really hope it get’s better, I want to make it to the 9th day. I do have a question. Paramhansa Yogananda mentions one vegetable salad and one cooked vegetable: Do we make the salad as big as we want? (To be more filled) And one vegetable, what does it mean by that? Last night I had broccoli, I just cooked one head and ate that. Is that enough or am I able to eat more? As you can see I’m having trouble with this diet, lol. I believe the point of this diet is to eat less and cleanse the system. And I just seem to crave more food. I need to be strong!

    • Nakin Lenti says:

      Dear Chris,

      You can eat as much salad and steamed veggies as you want. Also you could try the epsom salt baths. They help with cleansing and getting rid of headaches.

      Joy,
      devi

  • Angela Schmitzberger says:

    Dear Devi,
    I just finished a cleansing diet when I came across this article, love to do this, its like pressing the reset button – bodily and mentally whats out of balance is brought back to wehere it shcould be again.

    The next time I want to do Yoganandas cleansing diet, sounds also more simple than what I have been doing, but I have a question:

    How do you use the senna leaves? I am used to make a tea of them when I use them, but here it sounds as you would just mix them powdered but raw into the orange juice.
    Could you please clarify this.

    Blessings
    Angela

    • Nakin Lenti says:

      Dear Angela

      I talked to Devi about the use of senna leaves. She said what Master recommends in the 9 Day diet is a product called Swiss Kriss, which contains senna leaves. His directions are to take a tablespoon of Swiss Kriss and mix with water or orange juice. I hope this is helpful.

      Joy to you,
      Nayaswami Nakin

  • John says:

    I want to try this cleansing diet but I have two questions for anyone who like to answer:
    1. Can you use any kind of dressing on the raw salad? If not, any suggestions on what to do to make it easier to eat?
    2. Can you make all the vitality drink in one batch and consume it with the 3 meals, or should it be made fresh each time?

    Thank you and blessings, John

    • Nakin Lenti says:

      Dear John,
      In answer to your question:
      1) No dressing on the salad, because the diet is without oil. You can use
      lemon juice.
      2)You can make enough for 3 meals. It usually doesn’t keep well for more
      than one day. I hope this is helpful.

      Joy to you,
      Nayaswami Nakin

  • D'Arcy says:

    I am doing the cleanse right now, on day four. It is wonderful and Iprefer the raw juice method for the beverage. I had the headaches for a few days, the first being the worst, with flu-like symptoms. I am much clearer, lighter and feel good, today. My meditations have been nice. I think by tomorrow it will be great! Yesterday’s meditation, I was a bit groggy.

    I wonder how often one should do this or can do this, per year? I used to do cleanses every change of the season. I wonder if that is too much. I read that people like to do it when it is warm and only do it once a year. Which is why I waited until we had some nice weather. I might try it again in the summer, when others do it. We’ll see!

    Thanks for posting this.
    Joy,
    D’Arcy

    • Nakin Lenti says:

      Dear D’arcy,

      There are no hard and fast rules about Paramhansa Yogananda’s Nine-Day Cleasing and Revitalizing Diet: how often it should be done etc. Much of it depends upon one’s constitution, time available, etc. Devi says that once a year is more than adequate to get the full benefit. I hope this is helpful.

  • I stumbled upon your site today but was impressed with your suggestions. I especially vibrated with item No. 2 – to bath oneself in Sunlight and draw in the energy! We are all light-bodies and as such, there is no substitute for Raw – Pure – Sunlight!

  • Our bodies require a cleanse due to the rubbish we digest on a daily basis.

  • Terry Rhoades says:

    January 1, 2011. I’m on my 8th day now of Yogananda’s Nine-Day Cleansing Diet. This diet is a treasure! Opinion: The more you use starchy vegetables (corn, peas, squash, potatoes, etc.), the less will be the effect on yeast, parasites, and worms. Stick to the nine days rather than feeling 5 days is good enough! When I did a 10 day cleansing with a Hawaiian kahuna who examined our stools (together in front of everyone) daily, we didn’t see oily stuff come out until the 7th day. This was thought to mean the liver and gall bladder were finally cleansing. I expect that Yogananda said nine days for a reason. These may be some of them.

  • Tonya says:

    I want to do this. I too am insulin dependent Type II diabetic. Is it safe?

    • Nakin Lenti says:

      Dear Tonya,

      Dr. Peter Van Houten, MD, suggests that before attempting Yogananda’s Nine Cleansing Day Diet that you speak first with your physician and take into account the status of your medications. According to Dr. Van Houten, many diabetics can do this cleansing diet safely.

      Joy to you,
      Nayaswami Nakin

  • Amara Fiesterman says:

    Dear Devi,
    Thank you for the inspiring article. I am on day 3 of the diet. For the cooked vegetable tonight I had cooked beets. They tasted so good it feels like I’m cheating. I did not eat as many as I thought I might (because they are so filling. What you do you think. Would you suggest sticking to leafy vegetables?

    Blessings,
    Amara

    • Nakin Lenti says:

      Dear Amara,

      Devi says that any vegetables are fine. Master doesn’t specify.

      Joy to you,
      Nayaswami Nakin

  • Nancy Cralle says:

    This sounds like a wonderful cleansing diet. I wonder if my being diabetic would hamper attempts to try this. I am an insulin dependent diabetic. Does anyone have any knowledge about this?
    Love and blessings,
    Nancy Cralle

  • rick skillman says:

    Hi NS Devi, I am inspired by the regimen and this is the first time I’ve seen it in it’s entirety. Thank you so much for giving such a thoughtful preface and end notes in order to make the experience that much better.
    Love, Rick

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