Ayurveda is a word used a lot by people in the yoga and alternative health fields, but you might be asking yourself, what does Ayurveda actually mean? Here’s an Ayurveda 101: founded in ancient India, it’s a practice of medicine that’s been around for over 5000 years. It looks at a person as a whole, where things like what you eat, how your hair and skin looks, even how you breathe, are considered an important part of any diagnosis. Considered a sister to the practice of yoga, Ayurveda’s emphasis is on restoring balance between body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda literally means “the Science of Life.”
So that’s the short version of Ayurveda, but how can you use Ayurveda in your everyday life? It’s actually pretty easy.
1) Start Your Day with Warm Water and Lemon
In India, Ayuvedic practioners begin their day with this simple drink instead of a jolt of caffeine – it actually benefits you far better. The warm water is easier on the body, waking it up gently, while the lemon juice helps flush toxins out of your digestive tract and kidneys. Also lemon juice is an excellent source of vitamin C. Try adding some honey and sea salt – the honey is a natural antibacterial and antihistamine, while the salt aids in hydration and pH balance. All together, they get the metabolism going.
2) Eat For You
Instead of fad diets, or new miracle foods, Ayurveda is about eating what’s right for your body, and what’s right for the season. If you’re feeling overheated or suffering from inflammation, it’s cooling foods like salads and fruit, while avoiding oily and spicy dishes. On the other hand, if you get cold or tired easily, look to spicy foods, and leafy greens on the bitter side, to warm you up. Anxiety and digestive issues can be helped by favouring soups and stews, along with ginger tea or warm milk with cardamom.
3) Look After Your Skin
The skin is your body’s largest organ. It protects you from the outside world, and is a leading indicator of your health. From 5000 years of study and testing, Ayurveda has discovered unique healing herbs and fruits that it prescribes – like triphala, a combination of three fruits that is a powerful antioxidant; or eclipta alba, a plant used to nourish the skin and hair. The goal is restoring balance; the fact that balance is usually indicated by clear, glowing skin is a side benefit.
4) Sleep Better
Everyone’s chasing that elusive good night’s sleep, but in Ayurveda sleep is one of the pillars of good health and it deserves time and attention. You can make your bedtime a luxurious ritual by avoiding electronics at least a half hour before bed and taking a warm bath or shower. Try massaging your feet and scalp with oils before bed; for centuries, coconut oil has been used in Ayurveda to both nourish the skin and promote relaxation. Do whatever brings you peace, whether it’s reading, or listening to music, or practicing meditation. Great sleep, and wellness, is waiting for you!