Intermittent Fasting: Five Easy Ways to a Healthy and Long Life


When John arrived at the Prama Wellness Center a few years ago, he had been diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease which can be quite painful and debilitating. Working a busy IT job during the week, John had very little time for family and friends on the weekend. Not because he could not fit quality family time into his schedule, but simple because he was too tired to get up from bed.

He was too tired, because he was suffering from a condition Dr. Joel Fuhrman calls “toxicosis”—an overload of toxins in the body from eating too many muffins and pastries and other refined carbohydrate rich foods. This condition had caused various health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain and obesity.  This toxic condition had then resulted in a breakdown of the immune system, and thus he was diagnosed with lupus by his doctor.

During his stay at the Prama Wellness center, John experienced a 72 hour juice fast. At home, he continued the juice fast for another 12 days, during which he consumed about 800 calories a day of fresh, mostly vegetable, juice. After the juice fast, he switched to a diet of vegetables and fruits for another 30 days. A couple of months later, John sent us the following note:

“I feel like I have received the gift of a second life. Since the retreat, three months ago, I have taken no pain medication at all. Prior to the retreat I was experiencing a chronic low level of pain in my hands. Moreover, I weighed in at just a hair shy of 38 pounds down. My doctor told me he saw no signs of inflammation or anything else of note in my right eye.  My blood pressure is normal, and I stopped my blood pressure medication 10 days ago. This is huge.”

I can share many more success stories like this, but what is perhaps more important is that science has now confirmed what we have experienced in our health center for years: the healing power of short, long term and intermittent fasting. A short term fast for about 72 hours, will according to Dr. Valter Longo, the Director of the Longevity Institute at USC, reset the entire immune system and can, over time and by changing to a primary plant-based diet, treat many autoimmune system ailments, including lupus.

So what is an intermittent fast and how do you do it? (Before you read further, please note that this information is not meant to diagnose or cure, and that it is advisable to consult with your health provider before you undergo any of the programs below).

  1. Skipping a meal. The shortest form of intermittent fasting is simply to skip a meal when we feel overloaded and want to give the digestive system a break. When we practice this on a regular basis, we start to live like many of the longest living people in the world, who generally only eat 2 meals with a small snack per day. This kind of positive stress to the digestive system will help us maintain weight as well as kick start the immune system into performing a better job.

  2. One day fasting on water or lemon water. Another relatively easy way to fast is to drink only water, or even better, lemon water for one day, then break the fast the next day with a light breakfast of fresh fruits and unsweetened plant-based yogurt. These kinds of fasts can be conducted once or twice a month, or even once a week if we have a tendency to gain weight.

  3. One day juice fasting. These types of fasts, which are both delicious and relatively easy to perform is often the preferred way to maintain long term health and good weight for many busy people today. When you juice fast for one day, your intermittent fast provides you with a large amount of super-healthy micronutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables while also letting the digestive system rest and release toxins. Please note that if you are diabetic or have other chronic diseases, you must consult your physician before fasting on juice.

  4. Three day juice fasting. A three day intermittent fast, as mentioned above, has the power to completely reset the entire immune system and can result in many positive health improvements if performed on a regular basis, such as 2-6 times per year. It is always easier to do these fasts when you don’t have to work and in the company of other people, therefore consider a stay at a wellness center such as ours, where you can juice fast in peace with lots of support from our staff and others.

  5. Long term juice fasting. In the popular documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Joe and Phil fast for 60 days on juice. During the long fast, the dangerously obese Phil (he weighs in at 429 pounds) is monitored by a physician and to his and everyone else’s surprise, his vital signs gets only better and better. Not only that, he also heals a stubborn skin disease he has had for years, plus he ends up about 200 pounds lighter.   

These forms of intermittent fasting can easily be performed at home with minimum investments of time and money, but it is always easier to get a jump start on the process and to learn both about the benefits and the challenges while attending a retreat, such as at Prama. For those who have never fasted before, it is also easier when you do it together with other people and in the company of those with years of experience.

About the author:

Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh is the Director of the Prama Wellness Center where lifestyle is considered our best medicine. Ramesh is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurveda at California College of Ayurveda and is a certified yoga detox theraphist from the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of four books, including Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra:The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India).

When a Panic Attack Becomes a Gift

Originally published here on

It was in Autumn 2000, and it wasn’t a typical day.

I was coming home from Maryland after helping to clear out the belongings of my beloved sister-in-law who had just passed away from cancer a few months before.

On the highway, suddenly my arms started to shake, my vision blurred and my breathing grew shallow and fast. I remember feeling tingly all over and thinking that I was going to pass out. Thankfully, I wasn’t at the wheel; my then boyfriend pulled off at the nearest exit and took me straight to the ER.

Convinced I was having a heart attack or facing something equally grave, I was shocked when my vitals came back normal. The ER staff told me that physically, I was fine. I was having a panic attack.

Wait. What? Me? No!

I remember questioning the doctor: How could I be having a panic attack? I am yoga teacher.

A panic attack made no sense. Plus, heart disease runs in my family. A heart attack made much more sense.

Not only that, but I figured I had the wrong personality for an anxiety disorder. I didn’t feel particularly fragile or vulnerable. I was naturally strong and optimistic, and I had so much drive to go after my goals. I never thought of myself as anxious, nervous, or depressed.

Yet I came to learn that inside, I held buried feelings that came from growing up with a chronically ill and volatile father. I just was not aware of how deeply I was holding onto things…until I had the panic attack. What seemed to have happened, was that the trauma of losing my sister-in-law, who was around my age and a lot like me, was a trigger event for facing the vulnerability that I’d been suppressing for so long.

It is very possible, that when a major event, a transition, or an unexpected incident triggers a big shift in perspective, feelings we have buried for years can rise up, seemingly out of nowhere.

In the months following my first panic attack, I remember days of debilitating fears. I was afraid to ride the subway, afraid to fly in a plane. Things I used to do regularly, without ever thinking twice about them, now seemed threatening. I had this feeling, as if I were forever running away from danger.

I remember sitting in my apartment one day, not sure I could actually leave to go to work, and it was in this moment that things shifted. I became more afraid that I would not get my life back than I was afraid of the anxiety.  I remember rolling out my yoga mat and returning to my practice. From that point on I dedicated myself to learning how to adapt yoga and meditation practices to help return me to feelings of grounded-ness and presence, and I acquired new tools to cope with acute and low-lying anxiety.

In the end, the panic attack was a gift, because it revealed all the ways I had felt out of control historically. This exploration would eventually become the basis for my book Deep Listening: A Healing Practice to Calm Your Body, Clear Your Mind, and Open Your Heart.

A foundational step for me was learning not to analyze my anxiety or try talking myself out of it. Instead I focused on literally supporting and calming my body. I practiced feeling myself on the earth, noticing my surroundings, and deepening my breath. All of this allowed me to look at the anxiety more objectively. I learned that it wasn’t  – ”I am anxious” or “I am afraid.” But rather, it was “I’m having the experience of feeling afraid.” Knowing this let me realize that the anxiety wasn’t going to kill me. This allowed me to expand back out into the world, even when I felt shaky.

Through my travels of sharing yoga with hundreds of people from all over the world each year, what I’ve learned is that most of us suffer from low-lying or acute anxiety and don’t know why it arises.  Or, we feel stressed and overwhelmed much of the time. Most of us carry around powerful emotional narratives – the “stories” we tell ourselves that keep triggering our feelings of anxiety. And, most of us don’t yet know how to change the habits that keep us stuck in the “story telling” loop that keeps us feeling stressed and anxious.

Over the past 25 years, the more I’ve learned about how our bodies work, how our minds work, and how stress is at the root of much of our fatigue, burnout, anxiety, addiction, and illness, the more passionate I’ve grown in developing and offering therapeutic yoga programming.

But the truth is, stress is not really the problem. The problem is that we need to respond differently – not only to stress but also to anything that makes us uncomfortable.  This is at the heart of my practice and teachings – learning how to respond differently to stress and challenges in the day-to-day moments of our lives…how to live our yoga off the mat.

This year, I am so grateful to have several opportunities to share practices and tools for those living with chronic stress, anxiety  and, or depression.  I will have 4 free online practices with Yoga Journal and we are launching a new course Restorative 2.0: Short, Simple Practice To Stay Calm On The Mat (and in the Moment), I am also so excited to be creating a Yoga For Anxiety course with Yoga Anytime.

If you are looking for an in-person program, in addition to my annual sumer retreats at Omega and Kripalu, I am also presenting at Kripalu’s Narrative Healing Conference June 30- July 5 and at Omega’s New Program: Healing Depression through Connection September 13-15.

Mindful Magazine will publish a story about my work in the May / June Issue and also feature my Soft Belly Breathing Meditation, free at

Lastly, I am working on creating some bit-sized video practices for you, to be offered on my social media platforms this summer.  My wish is that you, or someone you know, will benefit from using these very simple, potent, holistic and practical tools to live a life that can be more grounded, present and open – with whatever challenges arise daily in your lives.

May we remember that there is a ground underneath us, holding us up.

May we allow ourselves to land on it.

May we remember that the breath is always there for us, simply waiting for more room to expand with in us.

May we allow it to flow freely through us.

May we remember that we can come back to land and expand, over and over again.

And May You enjoy these offerings and explorations on the topic of anxiety…

Naturally Calm
Explore Alternative Anxiety Therapies in Chronogram Magazine

Deep and Deeper 
Mark Nepo & Jillian Pransky on SHINE ON! Kacey’s Health & Happiness Show

A Supple Psoas Yoga Sequence
A Free one-hour class mixing slow flow & restoratives to ease stress and anxiety.