Ayurveda has been utilised for literally thousands of years around the world and offers a vast body of wisdom from which we can draw. Despite its age-old roots, this wisdom is still highly relevant and perhaps even more beneficial than ever before when it comes to finding balance and optimal health in modern life. Ayurveda typically works with the individual, and many of the lifestyle practices are determined on what dosha or body type you are, according to the Ayurvedic principles. However, there are also a number of simple ways that you can embrace the practices of Ayurveda, no matter your dosha. These guidelines are simply the Ayurvedic way of life and are beneficial for us all.
One of the best things about Ayurveda is that many of the daily routines are, in fact, quite simple. They focus on getting back to basics, back to the healing powers of nature, and connecting us back to our own innate wisdom and healing powers.
Modern-day life can be a toxic environment, and even if we are mindful about eating well, exercising and finding ways to reduce stress, toxins still build up within our bodies. Ayurveda helps us to function at our optimal level of health by addressing all areas of our lifestyle and incorporating things like proper nourishment, self-care rituals, hygienic practices, beneficial physical activity and healing herbs to help us to feel balanced, enlivened and clear.
For those who want to dive deeper into the overall health benefits of Ayurveda, incorporating these daily routines into your life is a wonderful starting point.
Start with Water
This piece of advice isn’t just limited to Ayurveda, yet it is indeed one of the leading practices suggested in Ayurvedic wisdom. As you wake up, aim to drink at least one large glass of room temperature water. A litre of water is even more ideal. Overnight we become dehydrated and starting the day with water is the best way to reactivate the organs and also support easy bowel movement. Water wakes everything within our body up in a natural and efficient way. For extra detoxification, you can also add a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Invest in a Tongue Scraper
One of the most important Ayurvedic health regimes to maintain is proper oral hygiene. By using a tongue scraper, you eliminate the toxins that build up in your mouth overnight. Ayurveda interprets the mucous that forms on our tongue as a sign of undigested ‘ama’ or toxins lurking in the digestive tract. Ayurvedic practitioners suggest tongue scraping to remove this ama so we do not re-ingest it. Metal tongue scrapers are sold at many health food stores and are easy to find online. All you need to do is scrape the tongue gently, working from back to front. Use seven to 14 strokes to cover the entire area. This not only rids the tongue of ama, but also helps to wake up the digestive tract in the morning too.
Self-massage in Ayurveda is referred to as ‘Abhyanga.’ This essential practice utilises warm or room temperature oil that is rubbed over the whole body to hydrate the skin, calm the body and mind, tone the muscles, and relax the nervous system. This enjoyable practice can be done in just 5-10 minutes each day, ideally with a sesame or coconut oil. Begin by massaging the outer ear, neck, upper spine, arms, joints, abdomen, legs, and feet. This can either be done at the start of the day, or towards the end of the day. You can also add a few drops of your favourite essential oils to your massage oil. While self-massage may feel a little uncomfortable at first, it really is a beautiful practice that offers great physical benefits and is also incredibly nourishing and soothing.
Make Your Biggest Meal at Lunch Time
According to Ayurveda, it is said that one needs to consume three meals a day, with lunch being the biggest. Your body will always have the greatest ability to process whatever you are eating between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is the pitta time of day and when our agni, or digestive fire, is at its peak. Eating a substantial lunch means your body is best-equipped to break down and absorb nutrients. This can be especially useful to anyone who finds they are low on energy in the afternoon. While light lunches and larger dinners tend to be more common, a complete lunch will enable your body to thrive while a smaller dinner will assist you to sleep soundly.
Eat Seasonal Foods High in Life Force
In Ayurvedic medicine, Prana refers to our life force or vital energy. The most logical place to start when looking at our physical energy is the fuel that you’re giving your body; food. Eating with the seasons ensures that you are enjoying food that is fresh when the nutrients are at their optimal state. Being able to purchase fresh produce locally from markets takes this one step further, as you are shortening the gap between when the food was harvested and when you ingest it. Ayurveda places a great emphasis on enjoying food that is high in life force and without chemicals or pesticides. Frozen food, packaged food or processed food is often considered ‘dead’ food in Ayurveda. Fresh foods from nature are highest on the pranic spectrum in Ayurveda, so do what you can to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into each meal.
Become Familiar With Ghee
Ghee is made from butter, but has gone through a clarification process which strips away the parts of butter that are the most difficult to digest, such as lactose, casein, whey proteins, and trace minerals. Ghee is the golden yellow substance left over after the impurities of butter have been melted away. Ghee has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for cooking and religious ceremonies, as well as therapeutically, both internally and externally. Ghee has numerous health benefits but primarily is known to lubricate the body, providing ease of movement and transport of nutrients within the body and waste from the body. Cooking with ghee is a popular component of most Ayurvedic recipes. Ghee can be used any time you would normally cook with oil or butter in both sweet and savoury dishes. It can also be used externally on dry skin or for massage. You can often find ghee in health food stores or it is easy to make your own recipe at home too.
While most of the Western world starts their day with coffee, in Ayurveda, coffee is seen as a digestive irritant and adrenal stimulant. Ayurveda however does suggest various types of tea. In the morning, opt for warm, spicy herbs – Chai is a good choice, or ginger tea with lemon. Around midday and afternoon, choose cool herbs with a sweet taste such as liquorice tea or peppermint tea. Before bed try tulsi or chamomile, two soothing teas that will calm you down before sleep.
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