9 Practical Lifestyle Tips for Ayurveda
Original Date: Oct 7, 2015
I am a student of Ayurveda and I strive to live an Ayurvedic lifestyle. When I attended my two Yoga Teacher Trainings in New York, we spent time in deep study of Ayurveda and Yoga as Sister practices. Ayurveda is a simple lifestyle technique that will bring you health and harmony. Some people will come up to me and tell me how they tried to study Ayurveda, but it seemed so complicated! They couldn’t keep track of all the foods they should or shouldn’t eat for their type and in feeling confused they dropped the practice all together. I hope to help my own students understand that Ayurveda is a common sense practice. It need not be complicated and your intuition and intelligence of the seasons can help guide you to live an Ayurvedic lifestyle.
Ayurveda comes from two words: Ayur= Life, and Veda= Knowledge. I am sure you already have substantial knowledge about life. The practice comes from finding the logical and organized order in the natural world. Ayurveda see’s the world through the three dosha’s- or constitutional types: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Knowledge of your doshic type gives you tools to navigate how to live a balanced life.
Vata= Air and Ether. Vata is cold, dry, and light. We feel this in the Autumn in New England, when the weather is cool, the air is crisp, and the natural world begins to dry out. We experience this in our bodies in our older years, as we are prone to dry skin, wrinkles, and brittle bones. Balancing Vata in our bodies involves eating warm and moist foods.
Kapha= Water and Earth. Kapha is cold, damp, and heavy. We feel this in the Late Winter and Spring in New England, especially as we make the transition from Winter into Mud Season. Damp, cold, and heavy. We experience this in our childhood, when our tissue is moist and fresh and we have a strong connection to the earth, and we love playing in the mud! Balancing Kapha involves eating warm and dry foods, crisp greens that come out in the very early spring, and sometimes spicy foods.
Pitta= Water and Fire. Pitta is hot, sharp, light and oily. We feel this in the middle of summer, with an intense heat and in a summer rain storm. We experience this during our teen years and young adult life, when we feel a zest and fullness for living, and prone to rash mood swings and idealistic pursuits. Balancing Pitta involves eating cool fresh fruits and vegetables that are naturally present in the summer.
These are very brief explanations. Learning your constitutional type can give you insight into what practices and foods will bring balance to you life. You can spend a lifetime studying Ayurveda. I like to think of Ayurveda as an art form. It can be taught through books but is better learned through living and experiencing. Aside from deepening your understanding of the three dosha’s and how they affect you, there are a few daily practices you can include in your life to help you live in harmony with the natural rhythms of the world of Ayurveda.
9 Practical Lifestyle Tips for Ayurveda
1). Wake Up Early- Before 6 AM- Early morning is the most fresh and pure time of the day. Grasp the freshness that is present in the air and feel your day filled with positive energy. Bonus-When you wake up early, you can more easily fit in a meditation or yoga practice.
2). Start Your Day with Hot Water and Lemon– Warm water stimulates digestion and lemon helps to clear out toxins. You might add herbs that suit your constitution for more balance. Fennel is a nice addition to stimulate digestion. I have been adding honey, which I find helps to ward off colds during the cold season.
3). Include Ayurvedic Eating– If you want to stay ‘disease-free’ then have a close look at what you eat. Emphasize more fresh, seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables that are in season, and eats food as close as possible to their natural state. Stay away from oily-junk food and processed foods as much as possible. If you include Ayurvedic eating in your diet your body will gain energy and clear toxins. You can include foods beneficial for your Dosha/ constitution type.
4). Mindful Eating– Give yourself 4-5 hours between meals. This allows the body to fully digest the food. Eat slowly- mindfully, gratefully. Say thanks, or “Swaha” with each bite, honoring the food as an offering.
5). Restful Sleep– Our body needs time to rejuvenate and to detoxify, and the best time for this process is while sleeping. When we get a good night’s sleep, our inner cells work in harmony to strengthen our immune system and circulate vibrant energy throughout our body. If possible get to bed before 10 PM.
6). Do Abhyanga– regular oil massage. Use only natural oils: almond, coconut, sesame, according to your constitution. You can do this before bed or in the morning, but make it regular. Massaging the feet before bed is therapeutic and can promote a restful sleep.
7). Follow a daily routine– Regular rising and bedtimes, regular meals, regular time for exercise like yoga, or walking, and daily meditation help to promote wellness to the body and the mind. Your body becomes accustomed to the pattern and it is grounding and nourishing.
8). Limit Sensory Input– Be careful about the type media and images you allow you filter into your life. We digest images and experiences as much as we do food. They become a part of our mental makeup. If you wouldn’t want to “eat” what you are watching and reading about, maybe it shouldn’t be in your life.
9). Find the Joy– Ayurveda is about joyful living. It shouldn’t feel like a “chore” to follow such guidelines. Be compassionate with yourself, don’t wallow in guilt. Find joy in the small moments of your day. Sing and laugh and dance and be with loved ones and friends as part of your wellness lifestyle.