The Knowledge of Life
What is Ayurveda?
Broken down Ayurveda means the knowledge or science of life. The goal is to harmonize the mind, body, and spirit. If you become sick or unhealthy then something is out of balance. Ayurveda has been practiced for over 3,000 years and is considered holistic medicine. Holistic refers to the person as a whole, which allows for the understanding of the mind and spirit, not just the physical body.
Doshas: The 3 energies of Ayurveda:
Ayurvedic medicine involves three energies that balance out the five states of the body: air, fire, water, earth, and space. The energies are referred to as Doshas and are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Everyone has a mix of all of the elements within him or her, kind of like a unique fingerprint. However, it is said that you are more dominant with one than the others.
There are many online quizzes you can take to find out which one you are most like, or you can go find an Ayurveda specialist. I tend to be predominantly Kapha with an equal balance of Vata and Pitta.
These are important to understand because 1) knowing what Dosha you are dominant in will help you balance out your whole body and 2) there are specific meal plans for each Dosha.
Vata: Space and Air.
Typically taller and slender in figure
Promotes active motion, blood circulation, and breathing
Creative and impulsive personality
Pitta: Fire and Water.
Promotes digestion and absorption of nutrients
Intelligent, focused, and enjoys being challenged
Gets hot easily
Kapha: Water and Earth.
Shorter and thicker build
Promotes growth-related functions and immunity
Easy-going and loving
Steady energy and thought processes
Doesn’t enjoy cold weather
Daily Ayurveda Practices:
Practicing ayurvedic medicine in your daily routines will promote an overall healthy lifestyle. The activities are easy to learn and can easily be incorporated into everyday life. Besides being healthy for the physical body, many of these practices also help reduce stress.
Dry brushing stimulates blood circulation, removes bacteria and dead skin, and helps to reduce cellulite. All you need is a brush similar to the one pictured below. To dry brush properly make all the brushing movements move towards your heart. For example, fingers to shoulder, toes to hips, etc. This is best done before you shower. Then while you’re in the shower, moisturize your entire body with coconut oil to promote healthy, smooth skin.
Just warning ya, this one is kind of gross. You literally scrape all of the food build-up, bacteria, etc off of your tongue. It promotes fresh breath and a healthier mouth. Brushing your tongue with your toothbrush just releases all of the bacteria into your mouth, which then gives you even smellier breath. By tongue scraping it off you’ll be clean! I also recommend stainless steel tongue scrapers versus the plastic ones.
Oil pulling is hard to get used to at first. It is suggested to start with 5 minutes a day and slowly build up to 20 minutes a day when it becomes more comfortable. You take a tbsp. of fractionated coconut oil and a drop of essential oils (I use thieves, you could also use tea tree, peppermint, or lemon) and swish it around in your mouth; pulling it in between your teeth, hence oil pulling.
Yoga is just amazing. I don’t think anyone has walked out of a yoga class regretting it. The poses promote strength, balance, blood circulation, proper digestion, flexibility, and so much more. Yoga is definitely my favorite stress relief. If you haven’t tried yoga yet, I highly recommend finding a class that suites you. I mean, they even have beer yoga these days, c’mon now.
I find that most people picture meditation in Buddhist temples being silent and uncomfortable for hours. Yes, that is how some people live their life, but it is way less complicated than that. It is mainly about deep breathing and releasing all of your negative energy. I love practicing meditation in the morning so that I am relaxed and focused to start my day.
It’s easiest for beginners to meditate with a mala. A mala looks like a necklace and consists of 108 beads. You take a big breath in on the first bead and then release your breath on the second bead and repeat until you make it all the way around. I also like to have a saying, or “mantra” as I move from bead to bead. My favorite saying is “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti” which translates to peace within, peace with others, and peace universally. A mantra can be as simple as “I am loving”, whatever speaks to you that day, affirm it to you.
Adaptogens are natural herbs that help the body adapt to stress and balance out hormones. I have a whole post about adaptogens (including recipes) here. There are many different adaptogens and they are fun to experiment with to see which ones are best for your body.
-ABHYANGA/ OIL MASSAGING
Self massaging is important in Ayurveda to stimulate blood circulation. It is good to practice this before you shower so that your pores soak in the oils when the hot water is on it. You could simply massage with coconut oil or sweet almond oil mixed with your favorite essential oil. There are also different oil mixtures based off of doshas. For example, Vata is balanced by Geranium or Clove, Pitta is balanced by Spearmint, Ylan Ylang or Sandalwood, and Kapha is balanced by Sage, Lavender, and Eucalyptus.
Detoxing is important in Ayurvedic medicine. Many use essential oils to create an enema and cleanse the colon. You can also consider detoxing as drinking many ginger teas and warm lemon water. Incorporating these two drinks throughout your entire day will speed up metabolism. Using warm water instead of cold water is also better for the body.
There are also many masks you can use with Bentonite Clay to detox the body. For your armpits mix equal parts bentonite clay with apple cider vinegar until it reaches a thick paste. Then apply to your armpits and allow to sit for 15 min then wash off.
There it is! Your first step into Ayurvedic Medicine! There is still so much for me to learn and I am excited to continue this journey with you!