Ayurveda or the “Science of Life” is an ancient Indian healing system that is based on the belief that good health is a result of the balance between body, mind, and spirit .
It’s holistic approach works with the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether which everyone is made of. The combination of the elements in the body create three life forces, or doshas (Vata, Kapha and Pitta). Every person consists of a unique blend of those three, however, usually one of the doshas is more dominant. That explains why some people prefer the cold, while others enjoy the warmth, why some body types are naturally slender while others are more curvy, etc.
For optimal health and well-being as well as a good digestion and energy it is important to keep the doshas balanced.
“When our digestive power is robust, we can convert poison into nectar –
but if digestion is weak we convert nectar into poison.”
~ Ancient Ayurvedic saying
There is so much more to write about but let’s just give you a short overview of the doshas and their corresponding elements. If you would like to learn more about doshas, find our what your dosha is, or anything related to Ayurveda, please let me know.
– Vata dosha is a combination of air and ether symbolizes movement.
– Kapha dosha is a combination of earth and water and symbolizes cohesion.
– Pitta dosha is a combination of fire and water and symbolizes transformation.
So how can you use Ayurveda to boost your health? Here are a few suggestions. You might like to start by choosing one or two that resonate with you, or try them all out. Some things may appear weird but I encourage you to give it a try. Give it a few days and allow some of the practices to become part of your regular daily self-care routine.
1. Abhyanga – Oil Massage
This traditional self-massage has tremendous benefits for the general health and well-being. E.g. it improves circulation, supports draining the lymphatic system, nourishes the body, and hydrates your skin. Depending on your dosha I recommend the following oils:
Vata: (warm) Sesame Oil
Kapha: soft body powder like Calamus root powder, or chickpea flour
Pitta: Coconut Oil
You may apply the oil in a warm bathroom before taking a bath or shower, or in the evening before going to bed. Apply long strokes along the limbs and circular strokes on the joints. Gently massage the belly and chest in clockwise circular motions. You may apply oil to your hair and scalp and to the soles of your feet (make sure to not slip!). Thoroughly massage the oil into your skin and then take your bath or shower (dry the soles of your feet off with a towel) or once the oil is absorbed, slip into bed and let the oil penetrate deeply into your skin and hair. “Sneha” is sanskrit for both “oil” and “love” and this massage combines them into a loving self-care ritual.
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much, even if subjected to accidental injuries or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts, and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.”
2. Neti Pot
When you feel sniffles coming on and as a regular routine during the colder months, I suggest using a neti pot.
Simply fill it with lukewarm water and mix a 1/4 teaspoon of ﬁnely ground non-iodized natural sea salt. Tilt your head over the sink and let the water run into the top nostril and out the bottom one. Keep breathing naturally through your mouth. You may want to have tissues handy. Then fill the neti pot again and repeat on the other side. This practice protects, cleanses, and refreshes the nasal passages and helps with sinus or allergy issues. Make sure to clean the neti pot after use and place it in the dishwasher every other week.
3. Tongue Scraping
If you are new to this practice you may use a teaspoon or purchase a traditional ayurvedic tongue scraper.
The benefits of scraping your tongue on a daily basis include removing Ama (toxins) from your body, enhancing your taste buds which improves digestion, stimulating internal organs, removing bacteria from the oral cavity and increasing clarity of the mind.
First thing in the morning gently scrape your tongue from back to front 5-10 times. Feel free to rinse off the scraper off in between. Then continue with Oil Pulling or simply brushing your teeth.
4. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is said to detoxify and clean teeth and gums, as well as whiten teeth naturally. Oral health is affecting the rest of our body and mind and therefore important to keep healthy.
Before brushing your teeth in the morning, put 1-2 teaspoon(s) of organic coconut, sesame or olive oil in your mouth.
Start swishing the oil in the mouth. In the beginning I suggest to start with 5 minutes, then extend to 10 minutes. When you feel ready it is recommended to swish 15-20 minutes. Make sure not to swallow the oil or you introduce the bacteria back into your body.
When done, spit the oil into a trash can. Rinse your mouth with warm water and then brush your teeth well.
5. Morning Drink
Start your day with a glass of warm or room temperature water with a few slices of lemon or fresh lemon juice.
Drinking water with lemon first thing in the morning helps you hydrate your body, fires up the digestive system and metabolism, as well as supports flushing out toxins. If you can, wait a few minutes before you have your coffee or morning tea.
Good sleep is important. Having a set time to go to bed and rise in the morning helps our body get into a natural routine. Ayurveda recommends going to bed no later than 10 pm. The darker fall and winter seasons invite us to go to bed even earlier, maybe with a good book and a cup of tea to relax body, mind and spirit. Listen to your body and give it enough rest.
7. Sit down to eat
Settle down before taking your first bite. Feel your feet on the floor, take a deep breath and smell the aromas of the food. When you are ready, take your first bite and enjoy the flavors, texture and visual aspect of your food. This way your body, mind and spirit are balanced and ready to absorb the nourishment the food offers you.
In general (with your meals or throughout your day) choose warm or room temperature water over iced water to support your digestion. Iced water slows our digestive tract whereas sips of warm water during a meal helps the digestive fire to absorb and digest the food well.
Please let me know if you have any questions, would like to book a private consultation with me or are inspired to learn more in a workshop. Also, please comment on how Ayurveda has been working for you. Have you been applying Ayurveda in your life already or is it new to you? Have you been able to try a few of the above suggestions and if so how has it been going for you?
Many blessings from my heart to yours,
Tanja Alexandra Kern