WHAT IS AYURVEDA? EASY WAYS TO INCORPORATE AN AYURVEDIC LIFESTYLE
More than ever with our continued growing focus on a healthy lifestyle and building our natural defenses, the word Ayurveda keeps popping up. For me, this holistic science was something that I have constantly been surrounded by. Embedded in my daily life, the benefits of Ayurveda were not something I contemplated about much, it was a way of life for me. It is also my heritage. I grew up with putting oil in my hair, eating ghee in my rice, oiling up my body every day, and at the first signs of a cold coming, chicory and black pepper were boiled to boost my immune system and rid the cold.
Recently, many have reached out to learn more about Ayurveda and I thought it would be helpful to share some time-tested practices I was raised with that continues to be valuable and how Ayurveda is useful for life.
WHAT IS AYURVEDA?
Ayurveda is pronounced Aahyur-Vedha. Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). Thus, Ayurveda translates to knowledge of life. This botanical form of holistic medicine looks at the body as a whole and assesses the underlying roots of maintaining health and balance to the body. Factors such as environmental stressors, diet, exercise regimen, your body’s composition, daily stress factors, and personality all play a part in your overall health. Learning to identify the underlying symptoms and adjusting accordingly is what strengthens your immune system and allows for an energetic lifestyle that keeps diseases at bay.
The most ancient medical traditions practiced in the world, Ayurveda's sophisticated system of plant medicine has been perfected over generations offering a path to healing, wellness and self-discovery. This ancient medicinal science was developed thousands of years ago in India, withstanding the test of time. According to Ayurveda’s Vedic scripts the skin is the portal to earth’s nourishment - stemming in formulations that feed skin balancing nutrition. This is why we choose to care for our skin according to Ayurveda's roadmap of living a holistic lifestyle.
HOW TO INCORPORATE IT?
Ayurveda is a very comprehensive system of medicine and is not something you can incorporate all at once. Whatever you adapt, it will be beneficial. I came up with a few easy ways to incorporate an Ayurvedic way of life.
DRINK WATER WITH CUMIN
Drink water with cumin or also known as Jeera, throughout the day. In Kerala, most restaurants or homes always boil water with cumin seed because of its array of benefits. To this day, my father always has a pot going of cumin water daily. Most drink it hot or lukewarm. Cumin seeds are packed with natural antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, Vitamin A, C, copper, and manganese. The benefits of cumin water are that it helps to reduce body fat which aids weight loss, remove harmful free-radicals from the body, improve digestion and promotes clear skin naturally. Drinking cumin water regularly can give your skin that healthy youthful glow. Boil a few seeds of cumin in water and let it cool. Drinking two to three cups a day is all you need.
Growing up I was surrounded with fresh veggies, colorful spices, whole grains and fruits that were integrated into every meal. I grew up with an Ayurvedic diet. It is satisfying and delicious and never makes me feel lethargic. I have always incorporated ingredients like Turmeric, Moringa, Ghee into my meals and have added supplements of Triphala and Ashwagandha to my daily routine. For example, Turmeric boosts immunity, reduces cortisol levels and can help with hyperpigmentation on face. Eating an Ayurvedic diet that is colorful, flavorful and nourishing can make all the difference. Ideal nutrition comes from consuming a variety of fresh foods that are in season and is eaten with awareness. Ayurveda believes that each meal should incorporate six tastes — Sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, astringent. The result is that you will feel more satisfied, you will have healthy skin, your body will be nourished and your urge to overeat will diminish.
I am a person who does not particularly enjoy sitting still. Meditation was not an easy task for me to start, but once I got into the routine it is something my body values and mind craves. It has improved my energy levels, my focus, my mood and my ability to tackle goals. It has also taught me how to listen to my body and be aware. Ayurveda believes in the mind body connection, your mental health plays a vital role in the health of your body. The benefits of meditation include easing anxiety, reducing levels of cortisol, supporting healthier weight, improving focus and promoting restful sleep. Which is why it is important to take a few moments to meditate. Learn how to meditate with just 10 minutes a day either in the morning or evening focusing on your breath. You may find it hard in the beginning because there are thoughts that flood through your brain; “What should you eat for lunch, who you forgot to respond to, that email you need to write, etc…”. Let your thoughts transpire, but the key is to release and not ponder over them.
Abhyanga, or self-massage is something that has always played a huge role in my life. My mother used to massage me as a baby (I have home videos to prove it!) and later she would massage my sister’s and my scalp with oil weekly. Daily, I would massage oil into my body from head to toe before taking a shower and it would leave me invigorated. Massage for most of us is considered a treat or indulgence, but in India it is a necessity for health. From the moment you are born, throughout your daily life, massage is given much importance. Your scalp, your body, your feet, your face, all can benefit from massage. Scalp massage helps to stimulate hair growth, balances the nervous system, increases focus and reduces headaches/migraines. Body massage helps to release toxins, increase lymphatic flow, and strengthen the muscles. Feet massage helps for restful sleep, calms the mind, and increase circulation. Face Massage increases cellular regeneration, helps prevent premature aging and keeps the complexion firm. Each provides benefits in their own right. When performing massages it is important to incorporate products with antioxidants in skin care. Using Ayurvedic skin care products that use natural ingredients for skin care will be high in antioxidants and can prove to be a great way to protect skin from environmental stressors that lead to premature aging.
Get your body moving. It doesn’t have to be something extreme, even taking a walk daily can greatly improve your mood, release stagnant energy and help with anxiety. Exercise for good skin, better sleep, increasing blood flow and reducing cortisol levels. Yoga, the sister science to Ayurveda, is ideal because it helps on many levels. It can help prevent over eating, strengthen the body without being strenuous, and reduce hypertension and anxiety. Yoga also works the muscles to relieve tension, tone the skin, improve circulation and stimulate lymphatic flow.
I can go on forever, but it is a lot to take in and we barely scratched the surface. The benefits of adding these Ayurvedic routines will help with increased energy levels, beautiful skin, eyes that look bright and fresh, strengthen your digestive power and an overall feeling of your mind at ease. Hopefully, these are some easy to incorporate routines to begin with. If you would like to hear more about any specific topic, feel free to let me know. It always helps to understand and create content that may be useful for you.
Love + Light,