An introduction to Ayurveda
Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life and helps people stay vibrant and healthy while realising their full human potential.
The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda are:
- The mind and the body are inextricably connected.
- Nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind.
Ayurveda is a personalised approach to health, and knowing your mind-body type allows you to make optimal choices about diet, exercise, supplements, and all other aspects of your lifestyle. Next to breathing, eating is our most vital bodily function. To create a healthy body and mind our food must be nourishing. Ideal nutrition comes from consuming a variety of fresh foods that are appropriately prepared and eaten with awareness. A simple way to make sure that you are getting a balanced diet is to include the six Ayurvedic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent) in each meal. Doing so will ensure that all major food groups and nutrients are represented. When you include all six tastes, you will also notice that you feel satisfied and that the urge to snack and overeat will diminish.
Get restful sleep.
During sleep, our body repairs and rejuvenates itself. A lack of restful sleep disrupts the body’s innate balance, weakens our immune system, and speeds up the ageing process.
Live in tune with nature.
The phrase “living in tune with nature” means having healthy desires that match what you actually need. As nature made you, what you need and what you want shouldn’t be in conflict. When you’re in balance, you naturally desire only that which nurtures your health and life.
Get regular exercise.
The system of Hatha Yoga works in harmony with Ayudeva. It is recommended to keep the body heathly with yoga postures and energised with breathing exercises to gain the maximum benefits from Ayudedic treatments.
Strengthen digestive power.
As Ayurveda teaches, good health is dependent upon our capability to fully absorb the nutritional, emotional, and sensory information that we ingest. When our digestive energy, known as agni (fire), is robust, we create healthy tissues, eliminate waste products efficiently and produce a subtle essence called ojas.
Here are a few Ayurvedic practices to strengthen your digestive fire:
- Always sit down to eat (don’t eat in front of your computer or TV or while you’re driving).
- Eat in a settled atmosphere and not when you’re upset.
- Don’t eat until you’re definitely hungry.
- Dine at a moderate pace. Don’t gulp down your food or eat too slowly.
- Minimize raw foods, which are much harder to digest than cooked ones.
- Include all six tastes at each meal.
- Drink hot water with ginger throughout the day.
- Practice some form of moderate exercise on a regular basis.
- Perform a daily oil massage with herbalized oil that balances your mind-body type. Find instructions for a self-massage here.
- Spend time in the quiet of meditation every day.
- Use detoxifying herbs such as triphala, ashwagandha, guggulu, brahmi, ginger, turmeric and neem.