Known as ‘the science of life’, Ayurveda has a history spanning over 5,000 years which is why it is considered as one of the oldest traditional systems of medicine in the world. The name Ayurveda is derived from the two Sanskrit words Ayu meaning life and Veda which means science or knowledge. It is a traditional form of healing that has been refined over the thousands of years of its existence. It is a person-centred medicine that concentrates on the individual, from lifestyle, to health and sustenance, disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Instead of quick fixes it takes a holistic approach to wellbeing through a personalised process.
How Ayurveda benefits the body and also the mind
Ayurveda promotes the concept of finding balance and harmony between our physical and mental wellbeing, which is why incorporating Ayurveda into our modern lives is surprisingly easier than most would imagine. It is about listening and understanding our own mind and body to find that perfect union between the two. An easy to incorporate wholesome daily routine is the basis for creating that desired balance.
Ayurveda practices include simple to include daily practices, for both morning and night that set the foundation for a journey towards wellness, such as maintaining proper schedules, like waking up early and getting sufficient sleep. This helps create a healthy internal circadian rhythm.
Ayurvedic practices in morning routines
Gradually practice walking up early to enjoy a relaxed and healthy start to your day, which sets the tone for the rest of the day. Start by hydrating your system of with a reviving glass of warm to hot water.
After this, rid your body of toxins built up overnight by urinating and evacuating your bowels, that will leave you feeling relieved and lighter. Adding oil pulling and tongue scrapping to your mornings are great ways to cleanse your mouth which benefits the overall digestive system. Finally, give yourself a small oil massage if you can find the time, using circular motions on your arms, heart, stomach, legs and the soles of your feet to increase circulation, stimulation and detoxification.
Ayurvedic practices in night routines
According to Ayurveda practices it is advisable to start your wind down process by about 8pm each night. Do a few stretches or light yoga moves to create fluidity in the body. Take a warm shower or bath to ease away the stress of the day. Try to have your last meal by 7pm so that your body has time to digest the food before bedtime. End the day with an herbal tea or warm water and take a few minutes for reflection or meditation to calm the mind. Establish a set bedtime and aim to follow it so that your mind and body know when it is time to unwind and fall asleep.
Rest and Sleep
Incorporating ayurvedic habits to your mornings and evenings will help you rest better and enjoy better sleep. If you need help Ayurveda has an option of natural sleep inducers such as a glass of warm milk with pinch of nutmeg, some cardamom and crushed almonds.
Ayurvedic practices in diet
Ayurvedic teachings place importance on both what we eat and how we eat, so that we find harmony between nourishing the body and nourishing the soul. Despite being ancient in its origins it provides a holistic approach that is easily adaptable to the modern world, such as the concept of eating seasonally. It is about focussing on the wellbeing of your digestive system to find balance with your ‘dosha’ or your inner makeup.
Using the Ayurvedic principals you will learn to truly appreciate your food and how to use Ayurvedic ingredients to incorporate all flavours to satisfy all taste cravings. Further advice includes:
- Cooking at home to ensure that you use seasonal ingredients that are fresh and so that you can be in charge of what you put into your dishes.
- It encourages the use of ayurvedic ingredients, herbs and spices that not only make the food tasty but are also beneficial for the body.
- Drinking herbal tea is an ideal way to curb snack cravings while also fuelling the digestive fire.
- Detoxing by being mindful of what you are putting into your body and whether you are eating to suit your body type
- Staying hydrated is important in an Ayurvedic diet. Along with the herbal teas drinking either warm or room-temperature water is important. If you need a slight variation drinking a probiotic lassi made with yogurt, water and spices is also option.
Ayurveda in medicine
Ayurveda is attributed to Dhanvantari, the physician to the gods in Hindu mythology. It is believed he received the concepts from Brahma and is based on the concept that health and wellness depend on a harmonious balance of the mind, body and soul. Practices of Ayurveda are geared more towards promoting and maintaining good health rather than fighting disease. However, there are natural Ayurvedic medicine that treat specific health problems.
Ayurveda in cosmetics and skin care
There are cosmetics and skin care products using natural ingredients based on Ayurvedic teachings that are completely free from toxins and chemicals. Some of the practices for skin care suggested by Ayurveda include dry brushing for about 1-2 minutes daily. After, on days you have time try Ayurvedic medicine oil massages at home. You can use warm organic coconut oil to gently massage your body, scalp and hair about 20 minutes before you shower.
Ayurvedic practices for physical fitness
Especially as we try to recover from a global pandemic that almost forced the entire world to a standstill, the importance of exercise in our modern lives has become ever clearer. Modern life is such that many of us spend long hours behind our desks or at our laptops, prolonged inactivity that leads to increased risks of heart disease.
One of the most elegant practices of Ayurveda is the focus it lays on the individual. While exercise is beneficial to everyone not all exercises are suitable for everyone. With Ayurveda the focus is on finding exercise that suits you as an individual, from your age to your surroundings, the climate and season to the current state of your balance between constitution and state of mind.
Benefits of Yoga and Meditation
Finding time to nurture our minds and souls is as important as the care we give our bodies, which is one of the prime teachings of Ayurveda. Adding about ten minutes of morning yoga to your routine will make a difference to your mind and body. You can opt for a gentle practice or something more strenuous based on your capabilities. Taking time to meditate or practice deep breathing and reflection in the evenings will leave you feeling calmer and better able to relax for a good night’s sleep.