Ayurveda is a 5000 year old holistic system of medicine that originated in India. While many people think of Ayurveda just in terms of nutrition, it goes much deeper than that.
The ancient sages that created Ayurveda discovered that everything in the Universe, including human beings, are made up of the qualities of the five elements – earth, air, fire, water and space. These five elements exist in pairs in the three doshas – Vata, PItta and Kapha – which make up one’s individual constitution. Vata is air and space. Pitta is fire and water. Kapha is earth and water.
Your constitution can determine what specific nutritional and lifestyle practices would be the best suited for you to maintain optimal health and what practices and treatments would be the most effective to bring your mind, body and spirit back into balance.
When any of the five elements go out of balance, it creates the optimal environment for disease to manifest. While a skilled Ayurvedic Practitioner can help you determine your dosha and specific imbalances, there are a few simple practices that you can begin doing today that will help you achieve more balance in your life.
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Our bodies and minds need rest and most of us don’t get enough of it. According to Ayurveda, rest is achieved in two ways – through sleep and meditation . During sleep, your body is able to rest, rejuvenate and detoxify. Most people, especially here in the United States, are sleep deprived and this can lead to premature aging, weakened immune function and psychological disorders. While we’ve been trained to think that “doing” is better, but as one of my meditation teachers told me,“Resting is an action” and needs to be on everyone’s daily “to-do” list. Ideally, you want to aim to get to bed by 10pm, but if that seems too early, aim to get to bed a half hour earlier for a week or two and then continue moving the time back.
Daily meditation is another way to give your body deep rest, while also expanding consciousness. With regular meditation, you can begin to increase your awareness, be more present in your life (not stuck in the past or future) and let go of old patterns of thinking that that are driving self-sabotaging behaviors and patterns.
Meditation creates the pathway to reconnecting to your true self and your primal nature, which is to make positive choices for yourself and those around you. It’s here that what we need, what we want and what we do all agree with one another. If the idea of starting a daily meditation practice seems daunting to you, simply start out with just 5 minutes a day of silent, focused breathing.
Ayurveda states that good health is the byproduct of our ability to properly digest and assimilate what we eat, feel and experience. When your digestive fire, or Agni, is strong, you can break down the food you eat, absorb the nutrients you need and eliminate waste and toxins effectively. If your agni is weak, this can cause toxic buildup in the body called Ama. Ama accumulation leads to blockages in energy flow, nutrient absorption, bliss and fosters the ideal environment for illness to manifest.
A few tips to help you improve digestion are to practice mindful eating, such as sitting when you’re eating, eating away from distractions, eating slowly, thoroughly chewing your food and eating until 75% full. Another simple, yet powerful practice is to sip hot water throughout the day. This helps to stimulate digestion , burn up ama and boost metabolism.
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Not only will daily physical activity help to improve your metabolism, but it also helps to detoxify the body and improve energy, mood and cognitive function. Variety and respecting your unique body’s needs is key here. Focus on incorporating aerobic, strength and stretching exercises that feel good to you as part of our weekly workout routines . You don’t have to feel miserable to get healthy. Start where it feels realistic for you and make a commitment to increase your time and intensity from there where appropriate.
We are a part of nature, yet too many of us spend our time behind our computers surrounded by four walls. When we make decisions that go against our highest good, such as consistently eating unhealthy foods, drinking too much, not exercising or not sleeping, this is a clear indication that we are out of tune with nature. This can bring about emotions of feeling lost, disconnected, depressed, anxious and fearful. One of the best ways to ground yourself and get back in tune with nature so that you are living your life in alignment with your needs is to spend more time in nature. Dedicate at least 10-15 minutes every day to spending time in a park, at the beach or going on a hike. Even better, take off your shoes and plant your feet in the grass or sand for a few minutes. This grounding energy can totally transform your day!
Happiness is not a luxury and you don’t have to wait to experience it. There are opportunities every day to raise your vibration and create feelings of love and bliss in your life. When we feel weighed down, there is always an opportunity to swing the scale in the other direction. Make an effort to cultivate loving and supportive relationships, eat without guilt, give yourself permission to be silly and laugh like you did when you were a child, take a vacation and work on releasing emotional stressors from your life. Some great techniques for this are meditation, pranayama breathing, journaling, gratitude, EFT, and support from an expert team!
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