Ayurveda is the science of life
The Ayurvedic system of medication is based on many centuries of experience in medical practice handed down through generations. Ayurvedic medicine originated in the early civilizations of India some 3,000-5,000 years ago making Ayurvedic medicine the oldest surviving healing system in the world. Read on to know how to benefit from Ayurveda in your busy everyday life…
Ayurveda in your everyday life
The word Ayurveda is formed by the combination of two words – “Ayu” meaning life, and “Veda” meaning knowledge. Life according to Ayurveda is a combination of senses, mind, body and soul. Ayurveda is not only limited to body or physical symptoms but also gives a comprehensive knowledge about spiritual, mental and social health. Thus Ayurveda is a qualitative, holistic science of health and longevity, a philosophy and system of healing the whole person, body and mind.
How Ayurveda works
According to Ayurveda, all matters are thought to be composed of five basic elements known as the Panchamahabhuthas – Earth (Prithvi), Water (Jala), Fire (Tejas), Wind (Vayu) and Space (Akasha).These elements interact and exists in combination, in which one or more elements dominate. The human body is composed of derivatives of these five basic elements, in the form of doshas, tissues (dhatus) and waste products (malas).
“Tridosha” or the Three Humours are categorized into Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata governs movement, Pitta is concerned with functions of heat, metabolism, and energy production and Kapha, governs physical structure and fluid balance. Thus in Ayurveda, disease is viewed as a state of imbalance in one or more of these doshas, and the treatments aims to establish the balance in these three fundamental qualities.
A quick Tibetan test
Tibetans use a simple daily test to know when they have a tendency towards a derangement of Vata, Pitta or Kapha. They collect their urine in a clear transparent jar first thing in the morning. Then they check the urine’s appearance to determine if they have an excess of air (Vata), bile (Pitta) or phlegm (Kapha) in their bodies at that moment.
How can they tell?
Simple. If the urine looks watery, almost transparent, there is an excess of air in their bodies (Vata). If the urine has a strong yellow or brownish appearance, fire (Pitta) is predominant in their bodies at that moment. If the urine looks very pale and foaming, there is a predominance of phlegm (Kapha) in their bodies.
Balancing Vata, Pitta or Kapha
Ayurveda offers many ways to heal and restore your natural balance and energy. A targeted diet to “pacify” your specific deranged dosha is one of them. Take a look at some generic principles… (It is highly recommended that you consider a good doctor whenever you feel something is not right with your body)
To pacify Vata
Vata is cold and dry. So have hot drinks like ginger tea, or chamomile tea. Center your diet around broths, cheese (warm, not cold as long as you are not lactose intolerant), carrots, onions, cooked spinach, garlic and spices. Avoid cold foods such as salads (because raw salads increase the air in your body) and ice cream. Generally speaking, avoid cold foods, raw foods and dry foods. Eat warm, oily, moist foods instead.
To pacify Pitta
Realize that Pitta is hot. So balance it with cold light foods such as cool water, salads, yoghurt and cooling herbs. Avoid meat and alcohol. Also avoid sour, salty, fried and spicy foods. Boring diet? Not necessarily, since Pitta people can enjoy oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast, salads for lunch and rice dishes and pasta for dinner.
To balance Kapha
Realize that Kapha is heavy, cold and humid. So balance it with dry, light foods, spices, vegetables and salads. Avoid sweet and salty foods. Also avoid dairy foods because they are heavy and produce mucus in your body, fried foods and frozen foods. Wheat is not good for Kapha. But you can enjoy muesli (without wheat) for breakfast and drink apple juice instead of cold milk. You can also enjoy salads (but with very little oil-based dressing) for lunch.
Daily tips for a healthy life
Most of us struggle to maintain a good balance in life when it comes to family, health, and work. We tend to prioritize one over the other, creating a rift that leaves us disheveled and unbalanced. While unhealthy lifestyles can lead to an array of problems like acidity, indigestion, stress, and other lifestyle-related illnesses, Ayurveda can help create harmony between the body, mind and spirit. Read some simple tips based on the Ayurveda principles…
Tip 1: Add cinnamon to tea/coffee
Cinnamon is considered to be “the ancient healing spice” that not only enhances the flavor of any dish, but also has numerous health benefits seen in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a soothing Ayurvedic spice that regulates blood sugar which caffeine throws off. The spice also soothes the nervous system.
Tip 2: Oil your body
Massaging oil into your body brings immediate benefits: it not only improves the texture of your skin and brings a healthy glow, but improves your sleep and reduces vata dosha in your system. Allowing vata dosha to accumulate can lead to mental agitation. Vata dosha has qualities that are rough, dry, light, mobile and cool, so an application of warm oil works as an antidote to all these qualities. The best time to oil yourself is in the morning before bathing or showering.
Tip 3: Watch out for negative vibes
Life isn’t that bad when you look at it, life has lots of surprises, some don’t make us so happy; however learning from each incident will be the right thing to do. Look at the beautiful things you have, rather than seeing the negative sides. Try to keep your mind clear of emotions such as anger, jealousy, depression, greed, hatred, sadness etc.
Tip 4: Drink hot water
Due to keeping an irregular schedule, eating inappropriate food and dealing with the general stress of everyday life, something called ama accumulates in your body. Ama translates as ‘undigested food juice’, and it floats around your bloodstream looking for places to lodge and start the disease process. The qualities of ama are heaviness, cold, dampness and dullness; hot water, with its opposite properties, helps to allay the production of ama in the digestive system.
How to drink Hot water
Boil water for ten minutes, decant into a flask to keep it warm, and sip it about every half an hour throughout the day. You can put a couple of slices of ginger in it to improve the effect. Check your tongue throughout the day and you’ll see it getting cleaner – meaning that it’s pink and doesn’t have any coating on it.
Tip 5: Drink Lemon water first thing morning
Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. The acidic qualities of lemon encourage regularity, which is crucial in keeping your digestive track free of toxic build-up. Ayurveda likes to keep things moving through the channels of the body. Lemons also hold vitamins and minerals that help release toxins in the digestive tract. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into a cup of warm water.
Tip 6: Scrape your tongue
Ayurveda teaches us that we can learn a lot about our bodies by noticing the characteristics of our tongue. A body with healthy organs and a clear digestive tract will show up a pretty pink tongue. A body with clogged organs or undigested food will reflect in a tongue with a layer of fuzz. If your tongue has any of the latter qualities you know that there are toxins lingering in your body. Scrape off these toxins from your tongue.
Tip 7: Green smoothie for breakfast
There a many different recipes for green smoothies out there, but Ayurveda encourage a seasonal diet and ingredients that balance out the qualities already occurring in nature.
Tip 8: Keep your skin dry
Getting a little wet or sometimes getting drenched is not uncommon when you are outdoors. However, don’t let your skin remain wet for a long time. It is important to keep your skin folds and feet dry and clean at all times. Damp skin is a breeding ground for fungal infections.
Tip 10: Eat hot food!
Don’t make your diet solely raw. Eating small salad as a side dish is ok; however, the food itself should be warm, seasoned with spices to aid digestion. Drinking large amounts of liquids during meals will only dilute the digestive acids which will result in poor digestion and assimilation. Drinking sips of warm ginger water will be ok.
Tip 11: Ayurveda Tips for Night
It is advised by ayurvedic physicians not to watch TV for a long time at night and to avoid any type of mental stress during this time. It is also advised to go to bed before 10 p.m. and there should be at least 3 hours of gap between your meal and the time you go to bed.
Tip 12: The best time to eat
Ayurveda recommends that lunch be the largest meal of the day, since that is the time the digestive agni is working at its maximum potency. As the sun goes down, so does our agni. Dinner should be lighter than lunch, and should ideally be eaten before 8:00 p.m. Late-night meals interfere with sleep, and after 10:00 p.m. the body is working to burn off toxins and continue to digest food from the day.
Tip 13: Lassi, the Yogic Drink
This traditional Ayurvedic yogurt drink not only tastes great, but also balances the doshas and increases digestion. It is best to drink a Lassi after lunch or in late afternoon. Do not drink it in the evening. A mango lassi adds the additional benefits contained in the wondrous mango fruit, known as “The King of Fruits” in Ayurveda, as it is a potent energizer and also works to balance all the doshas.
Tip 14: Ghee for Good Health
In the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, Ghee is known to enhance the pure (satvic) quality of food. It is very beneficial for Vata and Pitta doshas, as it is an effective digestive aide. Cow’s milk is considered to contain the essence of all the plants it eats, and Ghee is the pure essence of this milk. According to Ayurvedic texts, ghee is good for the brain, increasing intelligence and memory, while it enhances the aura, softens organs, cools the body, builds rasa (internal bodily fluids), increases immunity and builds Ojas (the essence of all bodily tissues).
Tip 15: A good night’s rest
A good night’s rest is beneficial for maintaining youthful skin. Remember to avoid stimulating activities during the night time as it won’t allow you to sleep such as working, being on the computer, watching television and even eating. Best to have your last meal at least two hours before sleeping so you can digest and sleep. If you find it hard to fall asleep, try to sleep before 10 pm, as this is the kapha time of night.