You may have heard of Ayurveda or the doshas at your Saturday morning yoga class, but have you ever thought about actually living an Ayurvedic lifestyle? Ayurveda, a science practiced for over 5,000 years, has tried and true remedies for maintaining a life of happiness and health. This ancient Science of Life, teaches us that we create our state of emotional, spiritual and physical health based on how we interact with our environment.
To begin understanding how to effectively support ourselves in maintaining balance, we must first understand the doshas. So, what are the doshas? Ayurveda’s fundamental roots are planted in the principle that each one of us is comprised of our own perfectly imperfect blend of the 5 elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. Ayurveda has systematically paired each of these five elements into categories called the doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Vata consists of air + ether. Pitta consists of fire + a little bit of water. Kapha consists of water + earth. To discover YOUR dosha, take the quiz at www.paavaniayurveda.com/quiz/.
Through understanding how our inherent physical, mental and emotional tendencies express themselves via the lens of the doshas, we gain new insight into why we are the way we are and what doshas are at play. When light and airy vata natured people are balanced they tend to welcome new experiences and creative expression but when they are out of balance they are prone to anxiety, nervousness and overwhelm. When sharp and heated pitta predominant people are aligned they are hardworking leaders but when they are out of alignment they lean towards feelings of jealousy, criticism, and anger. When solid kapha type people are harmonized they are sweet and steady but when unharmonized they tend to become stubborn, unmotivated and sad. So how do you remain in the balanced, aligned and harmonized state of the doshas?
By following these five simple, yet effective foundational guidelines, even a newbie can easily live an Ayurvedic lifestyle.
Become Your Own Healer
It’s all about tapping into your own body wisdom. Pay attention to how things make you feel and what your body is telling you. This will give you insight into how to appropriately balance the doshas. For example, Ayurveda believes that poor digestion is the root cause of all disease. By ignoring an unpleasant digestive response to eating a particular food, you are denying yourself the opportunity to learn more about what does and does not work for you. This innate power within is the key to acknowledging your own inner healer. Through listening to your body you honor yourself.
Weave-In Self-Care Rituals Throughout Your Day
Ayurveda is a firm believer in making time for ritual and routines to balance yourself in your day-to-day. Mornings and evenings are especially potent times to realign with your highest potential through self-care practices. In the AM, create space to center yourself through asana and meditation to support greater alignment as you embark on your day. In the PM, drink relaxing tea like PAAVANI Ayurveda’s Gotu Kola Bliss Blend, which will help you wind down and de-stress the mind before bed. At the end of each day, take time to think about what you were grateful for that day. Self-abhyanga the practice of massaging the body with dosha specific oil is a great ritual which cultivates self-love. Drink lemon water throughout the day to hydrate, detoxify and maintain alkalinity in the body. There are infinite ways to implement self-care practices in your day. Get creative and start with the ones that you feel called to do. Through the practice of ritual you cultivate self-love, and no one’s love is more important than your own.
Let Food be Your Medicine
We’ve all heard the saying “You are what you eat”. It would probably be safe to say that Ayurveda was the first medical system designed around just this idea. According to Ayurveda, by choosing the foods that we eat wisely, we can channel our inner healer and utilize food as our medicine. Like us, all foods are made up of the five elements; therefore certain foods are more appropriate for certain doshas. It is key to remember that like increase like. If a food contains the qualities of ether + air, then it would be unideal for a person with a vata imbalance to consume this food. For example, if you are experiencing a vata imbalance and you eat popcorn which is dry, airy, crisp & light, you would be increasing your vata due to the vata-like qualities of this addicting snack. Choose foods that contain the opposing qualities to the dosha of imbalance. For
Choose foods that contain the opposing qualities to the dosha of imbalance. For vata, think heavy root veggies, ghee and warming spices like ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. For pitta, think green juices, white meats and cooling spices like coriander, peppermint and basil. For kapha, think fresh veggies, dried fruits and pungent spices like cayenne, black pepper & turmeric. For more information on how to eat appropriately for your dosha, you can find specific food programs online to help provide you with guidelines for foods to eat and avoid; but as mentioned before, always pay attention to how foods make YOU feel. What is appropriate for one may not always be appropriate for another. Through consuming the proper foods for balancing your dosha, you will more easily digest, absorb and assimilate nutrients into healthy tissues to build and support the sacred temple which currently houses your soul.
Eat With Intention
According to Ayurveda, how you eat your food is even more important than what you eat. It is recommended to dine with awareness, gratitude, and respect for the foods on your plate in order to receive their complete nutrition. This idea encourages us to make eating our meals a meditative practice in which we cultivate peace and mindfulness. Begin each meal with gratitude, intention, and presence by saying a prayer or taking three deep breaths. It is best to eat in a calm, serene environment with little distractions. This means avoiding negative conversation and watching television while eating. Be sure to chew your food to an even consistency to assist digestion and absorption of nutrients, and only eat until you are 75% full. Overeating is one of the major causes of disease in our society due to its harmful effects on digestion. Enjoy until you are feeling satisfied and when complete allow yourself proper time to digest. Follow this basic Ayurvedic etiquette to allow your body to receive the most from its dining experience.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Choosing to make appropriate lifestyle choices can sometimes be the hardest step. Be gentle with yourself as you begin to make adjustments in your life. Take one step at a time and don’t expect to become an Ayurvedic guru overnight. Although these suggestions seem simple to initiate, making changes to your habitual patterning is often the most challenging part. Begin with a recommendation that feels most supportive to you and your needs and then build from there. Once your new routine becomes a habit, like brushing your teeth, feel free to add on more. Soon, an Ayurvedic lifestyle will come as second nature and its practices will be ones you can not live without.
As you can see, the Ayurvedic life is not as daunting as you may have once thought it would be.
By simply listening to your body, making time for self-care, eating appropriate foods with awareness, all the while being compassionate with yourself, does not sound like a bad way to live; especially if it leads you to feeling happy, healthy, balanced and aligned with your highest potential. Visit www.paavaniayurveda.com to learn more about organic, artisan ayurvedic products which will help support you in living your Ayurvedic lifestyle.
By Leah Danielle Klatt
co-owner of PAAVANI Ayurveda