Optimize your well being with Ayurveda
With so many diets, guidelines, tips, and tricks in the world of wellness, figuring out which will work best for you can be difficult.
The thing is, there probably aren’t any ideal diet or self-care tools that will work for everyone all the time. Our body’s needs change throughout the year and at different times in our lives.
That is why the system of Ayurveda is so incredible – it leaves flexibility for these changes.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a holistic medicine system that originated in India and dates back more than 5,000 years. Ayurveda literally means “the science of life” in Sanskrit.
It is based on the idea that we as individuals have our own unique body constitutions or “doshas” that affect our energy levels, our emotional patterns, our nutritional needs, our physical body type and much more.
Ayurveda tries to find a balance between the different elements or energy patterns that make up every person through holistic methods. This balance can be felt not only on a physical, but also on an emotional and mental level.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, there are three main energies or doshas that make up someone – Kapha, Pitta and Vata. Most people dominate in one of the doshas, but can also have a mixture of them.
Kapha is a mixture of earth and water. People who dominate Kapha tend to have thicker, more muscular physiques and may have a slower digestion. These people tend to be grounded, loyal, and calm, but when out of whack they can become stubborn, lethargic, and complacent. To stay balanced, they benefit from plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of exercise and brain-stimulating activities.
Pitta is the dosha of fire. People who are Pitta-dominant, of medium build, are more muscular, and may have sensitive or acne-prone skin. These people are usually busy bodies and are always doing or creating something. When out of whack, it is easy for them to get angry or irritable, or burn themselves if they do too much.
Since they tend to have high metabolisms, they can eat a wide variety of foods but can benefit from including cereals in their diet and minimizing spicy foods. Self-care seems to leave room to relax and indulge in unstructured activities.
Vata is dominated by the element air and revolves around movement. People with a vata balance may be thinner, taller, and have drier skin. They tend to have a lot of ideas and free flowing creativity, but they can easily get anxious or lack the foundation to put their ideas into action.
These people benefit from protein and fats, as well as from root vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes. Spending time in nature and doing other grounding activities helps keep Vata mentally balanced.
From these brief descriptions of the three different “Vatas” you can see how these different elements come into play in each of us, and you may have an idea of which one dominates in you.
Given that Ayurveda is the science of life, it makes sense for it to change and reflect based on what life is like at any given time.
In addition to people who have doshas, Ayurveda also divides the seasons into doshas. Vata is from late autumn to early winter. Kapha is late winter through spring. While pitta is from late spring to early fall.
Understanding how these doshas dominate the different parts of the year will enable you to change your diet, habits and lifestyles with the seasons. In simple terms, that’s why we crave moisturizing fruits and vegetables in summer and warm, grounding soups and stews in winter.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate Ayurveda into your lifestyle is to eat seasonal and local. The human body is in harmony with its natural environment. By eating in your area depending on the time of year, you can get the nutrients your body needs at that time of year.
Try it yourself
Within the Ayurveda system there are countless tools and modalities that you can incorporate into your life.
Diet is the most obvious, but other tools like yoga and Breath work are also an important part of this medical system.
Massage is another essential part of Ayurveda and is often even prescribed by Ayurveda practitioners.
A massage practice that you can try at home is called Abhyanga. Warm oil, sesame or avocado oil for Vata, sunflower or jojoba oil for Pitta and sweet almond or linseed oil for Kapha are used for this.
Before you begin, put a towel down so you don’t mind getting dirty and make sure your oil (about ¼ cup) isn’t too hot. This technique involves making circular strokes on joints and organs and long strokes on your limbs while always massaging towards your heart.
- Sit or stand in a warm room and carefully pour the oil on the crown of your head. Slowly massage your entire scalp with circular strokes.
- Keep massaging the face, don’t forget your ears!
- Move towards your arms and then your chest and spend extra time on your stomach.
- Finally, be extra careful massaging your feet.
- Take a few minutes to relax before you shower. The oil does not need to be washed off. Not only will you feel incredibly relaxed, but your skin will also be super soft!
There are countless other Ayurvedic tools that you can use every day to help you find more balance and ground in your life. From Pull oil To get up early, gently exercise, meditate and bathe – choose what works for you to balance your mind and body while optimizing your health.