Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, originating thousands of years ago in India. “Ayurveda” combines the sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (knowledge) to mean, literally, the knowledge (or science) of life. Don’t let the sanskrit fool you – Ayurveda is quite simple. You are likely incorporating Ayurvedic practices in your life right now without even knowing it – yoga, oil pulling, tongue scraping, oil massage, among others. All of those self-care activities stem from Ayurveda. Or maybe your reading this thinking, WTF is tongue scraping? Sounds painful (it’s not – it’s like a massage for your tongue.)
Ayurveda is based on the notion that everyone has a specific mind-body constitution (called a dosha) that comprises varying levels of elements: water, fire, air, ether and earth. My dosha is a vata pitta, which means my mind and body is comprised of a lot of air and fire energy. Ayurveda recommends several foods, herbs, eating habits (such as time of day to eat), oils to massage on my skin, and much more, based on your unique dosha. Want to find out what dosha you are? Take this quiz: Eat Feel Fresh Dosha Quiz.
So many of us have digestive issues or other bodily dysfunctions that we treat with medication, creams and ointments, or perhaps they go untreated all-together because you have no idea WTF is going on. Ayurveda may be the answer to your problems. There are a million diets and information on “bad” foods vs “good” foods that it’s difficult to sift through all the B.S. and know what’s right for you. Ayurveda helps you understand your mind and body, so you can understand what you should and should not put in it.
Although I’m a big proponent of Ayurveda, there are some things I’m just not going to give up right now. Apparently vatas aren’t supposed to eat chips, but that is my weakness. I love chippin’, and right now my body does not have any problem digesting the vegan/GF chips that I purchase, so I’m going to keep eating my chips, dammit. So you have to take everything you hear with a “grain of salt” (I prefer pink himalayan sea salt…)
All that said, only YOU know what’s right for you. Your body gives you all of the information you need – all you have to do is listen to it.
But listening to our bodies is hard, especially when there’s so much noise in our heads. So try this right now: take a deep breath. Take another deep breath – all the way down into the bottom of your ribcage. Then hold your breath at the top of your lungs and then sigh it out. Do this three more times, maybe even closing your eyes. Notice how your body feels in this moment. Is there any tightness? Any soreness? Maybe you feel tired, lazy, indifferent, wondering when this blog post will end?
Now that you’ve given yourself the gift of presence, appreciate and love the one vessel that you have and take care of it as if it was the only one you get! (oh wait, it is.)
Most of the day we are constantly telling our bodies what to do. Instead of bossing it around, try to just listen to what it wants. Maybe you need rest. Maybe you need to massage your whole body with coconut oil (this is amazing after being in the sun all day). Or maybe you need whip out the foam roller that’s been collecting dust in your closet and roll out some of that fascia.
Anyway, here’s how I’m implementing Ayurveda to improve my life:
- No more stanky morning breath – I scrape my tongue with a stainless steel tongue scraper every morning (8-10 gentle scrapes) to remove built up bacteria from sleep during the night. Not only does this help reduce bad morning breath, it also improves your sense of taste and overall health. Oil pulling (using coconut oil as a mouthwash) also provides similar benefits.
- Free massage? Yes please – Ayurvedic oil massage, called “Abhyanga”, is one of my fave self-care practices. It feels good and it’s good for you – plus it’s easy and free. I do this when I get out of a warm bath with epson salt, or after a day in the sun, or just after a long day at work. Abhyanga is nourishing, increases circulation, calms the nerves, improves elimination of impurities from the body, and gives you soft, smooth skin.
- My tummy loves me now. I had digestive “issues” for a long time, constantly complaining of stomach aches, gas and bloating. But really it wasn’t my digestive system that was the problem, it was the food I was consuming. Since switching to a vegan (and mostly gluten-free) diet about a year and a half ago, I have never felt better (I’ll do a full blog post on this later). Incorporating Ayurvedic recipes into my diet has allowed me to make sure I am getting adequate nutrition/vitamins into my body based on my dosha. If you have any digestive problems, I dare you to try an ayurvedic “diet”/lifestyle for a month and see what happens.
So, I’ll leave you with this: take your dosha quiz, find out what dosha you are, and make ONE change based on your dosha constitution and see if it helps at all.
If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend listening to Sahara Rose’s “Your Highest Self” podcast where she discusses Ayurveda and MUCH more on how to live your best life + read her book: Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda:
More to come on Ayurveda later. Keep on practicing and healing. Yoga (and Ayurveda) heals the world!
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