Ayurveda: find your balance
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian science around healthy lifestyle principles. Translated from Sanskrit it means science of life (Ayur=life and veda=science). The sister science to Yoga, it focuses on the mind-body connection to preserve and maintain health and is still so relevant in today’s world. Although there are many practices I have already embraced on my wellness journey, I feel I have only scratched the surface of this interesting topic and am so inspired to bring more of its principles into my life.
Elements and doshas
Ayurveda is based around the premise that the universe is made up of 5 elements. Air (vayu), Fire (tejas), water (jala), earth (orpithri) and space (akasha). They are represented in humans by 3 doshas or energies. Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are our mind-body types and the foundation of Ayurveda. We each have a predominant type which is depicted by our physical and emotional characteristics. You can find online dosha quizzes to find out which one you are, or go and see an Ayurvedic doctor. When levels of each dosha increase or decrease, it can affect our body’s balance and therefore our health and wellbeing. The idea is to keep them in balance to avoid the onset of disease. Knowing which type you are can help you make better choices in regard to things like diet and exercise.
Get adequate sleep
As we know, our body repairs itself while we are sleeping, so aiming to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night is the goal. If not, it can disrupt our balance and quicken the aging process. Also waking early is a major part of Ayurveda. It suggests waking before sunrise and making the most of the early hours to set yourself up for the day and become more in tune with nature. I aim to go to bed by 10pm at night and rise at 6am (not quite before sunrise at the moment but it’s better than nothing!).
Get in tune
Living in tune with nature is a wonderful practice to get used to. Do things that nourish and uplift you, that make you feel alive. Smells, tastes, experiences, sounds, sights and touch. Slow down a bit and really experience things around you.
Eat nourishing food
Eating a variety of real food and incorporating the 6 tastes into each meal is one way to embrace Ayurveda. Try for something sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent in each meal to feel satisfied for longer, reduce snacking and overeating and help your appetite and digestion. You can make up a spice mix with turmeric, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and mustard that covers all of them. Think of the rainbow when choosing foods to eat and try to find in-season fruits and vegetables with more life-force energy (prana). Consciously prepare your food with love, transferring good energy to your food before you eat it.
Work on digestion
Our digestive power, or agni, is different for everyone. We can encourage improvement in this area by waiting until we are actually hungry, sitting down, and when relaxed eat at a moderate pace. Mindful eating is so important and definitely something I need to work on! Chew your food, girl! Having ginger tea and less raw food can help with this too. Try to eat your biggest meal at lunch-time when the sun is at the highest point. It is said this is when our digestive fire is at its peak.
Movement and meditation
Getting adequate exercise each day is vital too. Even if it’s just half an hour of activity, it will help keep things in balance. Try and incorporate a regular meditation practice into your schedule, whether it be mindfulness meditation or yoga, to increase awareness and mind-body connection. Pranayama (breathing exercises) helps to clear carbon dioxide from the lungs and increases oxygen uptake. It also promotes digestion by massaging your internal organs.
Sweat it out
Sweat out toxins by going to a sauna or having a nice warm bath regularly. Who doesn’t need a little bit of self-care to help detoxify the body?! You can incorporate some meditation into it too. Double the balancing.
There are a multitude of ways we can embrace Ayurveda and bring more balance into our bodies and lives. Why not try a couple of the suggestions mentioned and see if the science of life can help you too.