Ayurveda, a Sanskrit word that translates to “the science of life,” originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. It’s a practice that believes everything in the universe is connected and that health is achieved by understanding our uniqueness while staying in alignment with the rhythm of the nature.
There are a few simple things we can all do to apply this wisdom to our daily lives. The beauty of Ayurveda is that the small tweaks make a big difference. It’s not about doing everything at once rather trying a few things over time.
Here are my top five Ayurvedic practices to start using today:
CREATE A DAILY ROUTINE
Adopting an appropriate daily routine is undoubtedly one of the most grounding and nurturing things you could do for yourself. At the most fundamental level, our physiology is very much adapted to—and supported by—some sense of regularity. Actually, this is precisely why a daily routine is such potent medicine. In effect, having a daily routine offers the grounding, stability, and predictability that are largely absent from our hectic modern lives. The routine itself creates a number of familiar and comforting reference points throughout each day that send a resounding affirmation to the deep tissues of the body that all is well, that we can be at ease. This is why when the body becomes accustomed to—and learns to count on—a daily routine that includes things like adequate rest, appropriate exercise, and a nourishing spiritual practice, the nervous system finally begins to relax. As a result, a daily routine can elicit profound rejuvenation throughout the body without requiring any conscious awareness of the healing process. To this end, it’s more important that there is a sense of routine from one day to the next than crafting the perfect combination of habits and practices.
FOCUS ON YOUR DIGESTION
Ayurveda states that good health is the byproduct of your ability to properly digest and assimilate what we eat, feel and experience. When your digestive fire (agni) is strong, you can break down the food you eat, absorb the nutrients you need and eliminate waste and toxins effectively. If your digestive fire is weak, toxic buildup can accumulate in the body (ama). This accumulation leads to blockages in energy flow and nutrient absorption, fostering the ideal environment for illness to manifest.
A few tips to help you improve digestion are to practice mindful eating, such as sitting when you’re eating, eating away from distractions, eating slowly, thoroughly chewing your food and eating until 75% full. Another simple, yet transformative practice is to sip hot water throughout the day. This helps to stimulate digestion and release ama.
EAT WHAT IS IN SEASON
Nature’s cycles—and the produce it bares—are perfectly designed to support our health. In the spring the abundance of leafy greens help us alkalize, detox and loose excess weight after a long winter of heavier foods. In the summer we need to cool down and stay hydrated and do so with the berries, cucumber, watermelon etc that the season brings. This is why building a diet around seasonal food facilitates the body’s natural healing process.
HONOR YOUR INDIVIDUALITY
Have you ever wondered what actually accounts for differences in people? Why some people are hyperactive and fast-moving, while others exude grace and stillness? Why some people can eat a five-course meal with ease, while others can barely finish a salad? Why some people are inherently joyous, while others carry the weight of the world on their shoulders? Genetics offers some insight, but what about the characteristics and idiosyncrasies that make every person unique?
Just as we all have a unique fingerprint, Ayurveda teaches us that each person has a particular pattern of energy—an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics—which comprises one’s unique constitution (dosha). But doshas are like anything in life; they are fluid and affected by circumstance, emotion, or even the seasons. Thus, Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to individual health, believing that all aspects of life contribute to balance including nutrition, lifestyle, seasons and long-term tendencies. In our world of abundant information, rather than looking outside of oneself for instruction — a loop that’s confusing, complex, and disconnected from self—balance, then, is restored by understanding your uniqueness and identifying the things that make you feel your best. In this way you’re empowered to embrace what works for you, regardless of what that looks like on paper.
ADD “REST” TO YOUR TO-DO LIST
Our bodies and minds need rest and most of us don’t get enough of it. According to Ayurveda, rest is achieved in two ways: sleep and meditation. During sleep, your body is able to rest, rejuvenate and detoxify. Daily meditation is another way to give your body deep rest, while also expanding your self-awareness. With regular meditation, you can begin to understand yourself better, feel more present (vs stuck in the past or future) and let go of old patterns of thinking that that do not support how you want to feel and live.
Essentially, meditation creates the pathway to reconnecting to your true self and your primal nature. If the idea of starting a daily meditation practice seems daunting to you, begin with a few minutes a day of silent, focused breathing.
Sachi Doctor is a holistic health educator, tea maker and ritualist based in Oakland, CA. Passionate about drawing on inner wisdom to heal mind-body, she established Elemental Alchemy to support those navigating their way towards lasting health. Learn more about services & products at www.elemental-alchemy.com.