With the new year, we may ponder on our goals, desires and the aligned action we wish to take so that we can make this a memorable year. Achieving this may feel equally exhilarating and overwhelming. This is due to the seemingly tricky quest of finding something that caters to our ‘holistic health.’ But what if that treasure has been with us all along? A philosophy that has aged 5000 years. The science (Veda) of life (Ayur) – Ayurveda.
It is intriguing how Ayurvedic teachings have prospered and managed to stay relevant since its genesis. “So, what it is that makes it quintessential for a modern era?”, you may ask. The answer lies in its beauty of being a way of living. A nature-inspired lifestyle, that is malleable into our routines.
So, let’s revisit a few old lessons to adopt some new habits!
Ayurveda advocates that our body is a microcosm, made of the ‘Panch Mahabhuta’ meaning the five essential elements, that are known to constitute the entire known universe: Aakash (Space or ether), Jala (Water), Prithvi (Earth), Vayu (Air) and Teja (Fire). These elements when fused in combinations, create three energy types known as the Tridoshas: The Vata dosha (space+air), Pitta dosha (fire+water), and Kapha dosha (water+earth). A varying combination of each of these then decides our Prakriti (Individual constitution).
The core philosophy of Ayurveda states that any imbalances in the prakriti of a being are a cause of dis-ease. These imbalances may be caused due to lifestyle factors, diet, or transitioning seasons. All of which have been compromised in the world of the 21st century.
Balancing the doshas is therefore the key to living in harmony. This is attained via Ahara and Dincharya.
“You are what you digest”
Ahara or Food is a requisite for Ojas (essence of vitality), Tejas (inner fire/illumination), Tushti (mental satisfaction), Bala (strength) and Arogya (health). To be able to lead a quality life is dependent on the type of food we consume. The grounds for that is a wholesome diet that ensures optimal assimilation of nutrients in the bodily cells. Anything that does not align with our Prakrutik can thus induce an imbalance.
The principles of an Ayurvedic Ahara can be applied to any diet, whether vegetarian, non-vegetarian, or vegan. In addition to what we eat, the “how” and “when” of it also create a lasting impact on our health. To address this, an “Ahara Vidhi” was passed on by the Vedic sages that consist of an extensive list we should focus on while consuming food.
Some of it being:
- Consume the food when it’s hot/warm
- Consume only when you feel hungry
- Do not consume it hastily or leisurely/avoid snacking
- Eating right as per our Deha Prakriti
- Eating mindfully
Resonating with the energy of a balanced natural state helps us have a sense of fulfilment. Being immersed in this energized feeling of focus helps us visualize our Dharma (unique purpose in life) and drives us to work towards it. Moving further, let’s try to understand Dincharya’s contribution to inspiring harmony in our mind, body and lives!
Did you know that just like the celestial bodies, our bodies too operate on an internal clock called the circadian rhythm? Be it gastric secretions or melatonin release, every action is cued based on the natural external signals perceived. Altering this natural rhythm translates to heightened anxiety, reduced decision-making power, diminished productivity, lesser absorption of nutrients, and instigates chronic fatigue. Definitely something we do not want!
Because of these reasons, Ayurvedic lifestyle operates on the wheels of Dincharya. A series of daily ayurvedic rituals that are followed for preservation of optimal wellness via sustenance and detoxification.
Be mindful that a standard routine might not work for most of us. That is the reason crafting a routine that’s unique to you and your needs becomes vital. Let’s not forget that giving our body what it needs is also a form of self-love we must practice every day.
Here are a few ‘must-have’ ayurvedic rituals for lifestyle transformation and holistic well- being!
The worlds around and within us are always in a state of flow. The Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshic energies are the ones that hold sway over the tides of our lives. If we can decipher the ebb and flow of these natural rhythms, we will be able to fine tune into these rhythmic cycles to drive our lives in a health-abundant direction!
Each Tridosha is at its peak during a certain time of the day. The Vata dosha peaks from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. suggesting that one must wake up during this period to benefit from Vata characteristics like movement, mental activities, and flexibility. Following this window, the Kapha dominates the next four hours of the clock. Since Kapha dosha is a characteristic of heaviness, it is normal for an individual to feel groggy when they wake up during this time. Leveraging the natural cycle, we can optimise our habits and boost productivity to accomplish more things during the day.
As you correctly guessed, the Kapha time then flows into a pitta-dominated time window lasting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ayurveda recommends having your main meal during this time of the day because your Agni (digestive fire) is at peak around noon. It is interesting how the Agni fires up simultaneously when the sun is at its peak too!
Paralleling the rituals with these cycles, here are a few traditional practices followed as a part of the morning routine by Ayurveda enthusiasts:
- Waking from sleep, drink a glass of lukewarm water to flush the stomach and stabilize the lymphatic system
- This is followed by cleaning the tongue, brushing the teeth, and eliminating waste to get rid of ama (toxins in the body)
- The routine then proceeds to clean all the sensory organs and engage in a skincare regimen.
- Some forms of Movement & Meditation is also recommended
Meditation is essential to maintain an equilibrium between the body and mind. Decluttering the brain of unwanted thoughts helps enhance concentration and think with clarity. Bringing awareness into the present moment subdues self-sabotaging thoughts. Additionally, the unwavering commitment to the process solidifies willpower and allows a streamlined flow of inspiring ideas. To make the most of this ritual, it’s best to perform it during the sunrise. Witnessing the magnificence of sunrays on our skin and perceiving its abundant energy is a therapeutic way of soothing a jittery mind.
There’s no activity that can rejuvenate the body better than Yoga. It is the act of connecting with oneself at a deeper level. The rhythmic motions of the body expressions when amalgamated with mindful breathing, help strengthen the muscles, establish balance, and explore the undiscovered parts of ourselves. The duo of Mudras (Yogic gestures) and Aasanas (Yogic poses) is the most effective in alleviating stress and trauma trapped between intersections of our bodies.
Abhyanga is the ancient practice of massaging the body with dosha-specific essential oils to promote wellness. Along with relaxation, Abhyanga improves circulation, strengthens body tissues, improves vision & stamina, and lubricates organ systems. As the warm oil is massaged onto the skin, it seeps through the dermal layers and makes the skin feel supple. This organic treatment of skin has proved to be far more efficacious than chemical-laden creams. It’s time to make a conscious switch now!
While we’re on the journey to be our better selves, it is important to be compassionate and kind towards the process. It’s normal to fall out of routine at times because guess what? Life happens! The idea is to get back on track and make consistent efforts to reach our goal.
We hope that this article shared some valuable insights that inspire change!
If you would like to learn more about Ayurveda and how you can infuse Ayurveda into your health & wellness business by becoming a certified Ayurveda Holistic Health Coach you can find out more information or book a call here: Ayurveda Alchemist
(Ayurveda & Women’s Health Practitioner)