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To The Ashram, and Beyond

Mary Murray

   Jupiter resident Margaret Luce lives a busy life as an actress, a model and a mother of two who serves on the board of directors for CARP and the Fern House. Yet she felt her world was "getting a little small" and needed a way to prepare for upcoming projects—and, more importantly, reflect on herself and her place within the world. In early September, she ventured off to The Ashram, a health spa in Calabasas, California that hosts weeklong retreats designed to detox the mind, body and soul. At the Ashram, she took part in daily hikes, yoga classes and other physical activities as well as a regimented 600-calorie-a-day raw and vegetarian diet. "I chose The Ashram because I felt it was challenging but yet simple in its approach to nutrition and amenities," she says. She shared with PBI an inside look at her experience at the institute, as well as some of her favorite detox juice recipes.

PBI.com: How did you become involved in this field of spiritual and physical detox?

Luce: I learned very early on in life that your body is a temple and should be treated as such through proper nutrition and exercise. With a balanced and healthy body people are able to reach and maintain mental, physical and spiritual clarity. Your body is a tool and you need to respect and take care of it—bottom line. The Ashram was a full week dedicated to this principle without the interruptions and distractions of the real world.

Margaret Luce during her stay at The Ashram in Calabasas, California.

Why do you think these retreats are needed?

To be quiet and shut out the noise so you can actually see and hear the natural world around you. It's a temporary escape from the technological distractions we have grown so accustomed to in the modern world. It reminds you of the magic in nature and its power to heal.

What are the principles behind the vegetarian, 600-calories-a-day diet?

Upon beginning The Ashram retreat, I was interviewed and asked how intensive I wanted my stay to be. The Ashram gives you the option to be under such caloric restriction, and since I wanted the greatest challenge I naturally chose this option. They cater the nutritional program to what you need and any food allergies or sensitivities you may have. Every meal consisted of an array of fresh vegetables and spices that even under such a limited calorie intake, I always felt satiated after every meal.

Can you give some examples of meals on the plan?

Quinoa and arugula salad with tomatoes, shredded cooked beats, one onion and a garlic and olive oil dressing and a dash of salt. Miso and tahini dip: 2 tablespoons of miso, 3 tablespoons of tahini and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar all mixed together and served with carrots or celery.

What sorts of physical activity did you participate in during your stay?

Early morning yoga, hikes in the Santa Monica mountains ranging from six to 12 miles a day, therapeutic massage and afternoon yoga followed by water volleyball.

What yoga or meditation practices would you suggest to someone who has just a few minutes a day for such activities?

I start everyday with a downward dog; it opens up your back and stimulates blood flow throughout the body. Also, a warrior one or two pose is a great way to open up the hips and legs while strengthening at the same time. Instead of meditation I call it a spiritual reflection. I read a paragraph or phrase everyday from a spiritual piece of literature and set a positive intention for the rest of the day.

How have you seen these practices change people from the inside out?

The Ashram was a reminder to me of who I am. These practices lead people to vibrate at a higher frequency, one that is more aware and sensitive to the physical and spiritual world around us.

Margaret's Morning Routine Juice:

When I need a quick morning flush before a shoot: A full lemon, half an apple, kiwi and celery (blended in a Vitamix).

On longer days I will blend one small beet, kiwi and arugula. I try to buy seasonal veggies and fruits so I am always switching it up between berries, grapefruits or kiwi to give my drink an extra kick.

Margaret's Maintenance:

Celery, kiwi, fresh ginger root, apple (small organic) and a scoop of whey protein.

Immune system boost: Parsley, kale and a whole turmeric root. On days I know I will be alone I also add garlic. I would also add a very small amount of berries or a sweeter fruit to this drink to dilute the sharp bitter taste of the parley and kale.

Power drink: Beet, apple, Italian parsley and a whole ginger root.

Another great power drink is horseradish root (a little goes a long way). I try to keep this one simple and use kale or dandelion as a base. I recommend this one in the afternoon after you have something in your stomach.

Khorabi is another root to try—it is found in the Eastern European diet. I have dropped it into boiling water for 30 seconds to make sure it's clean and then add some raspberries and a splash of almond milk.

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