The word, Ayurveda, translates to “the science of life”. It is a holistic science over 5,000 years old that contains a profound body of knowledge used to understand ourselves within the laws of nature. It is considered to be the sister science of Yoga.
According to Ayurveda, each individual and all of nature is made up of a certain combination of the five fundamental elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These elements uniquely design each one of us, creating a distinct blueprint known as our Dosha. Knowing your Dosha will help you determine lifestyle choices and the nutritional needs that will benefit you most on the quest to create optimal wellness and beauty. There are 3 main Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. You can take a simple quiz or consult an ayurvedic practitioner to understand and know your Dosha.
How Ayurveda Can Help You Stay Healthy this Fall:
As much as we all enjoy summer, being out with family and friends, enjoying barbecues, summer parties and other outside activities, Fall has moved in bringing with it the promise of cooler temperatures. Its rhythms remind us that it’s time to turn inside, ruminate and nourish that inner light. When we can line up to naturally occurring rhythms, we’re less likely to get sick and develop disease.
Here are 5 simple and effective practices that can help you become in sync with the rhythm of Fall:
1. Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. The acidic qualities of lemon encourage regularity, which is crucial in keeping your digestive track free of toxic build-up. Ayurveda likes to keep things moving through the channels of the body. Lemons also hold vitamins and minerals that help release toxins in the digestive tract. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into a cup of warm water.
2. Scrape your tongue. If you’ve never taken a peek at your tongue in the morning, check it out! Ayurveda teaches us that we can learn a lot about what’s going on in our bodies by simply noticing the characteristics of our tongue. In fact, it can inform us on how we want to start our day. A body with healthy organs and a clear digestive tract will show up pink. A body with clogged organs or undigested food from the night before will show up with a layer of fuzz, film, indentations from teeth, and/ or bumps (other than your taste buds). If your tongue has any of the latter qualities, then there are toxins lingering in your body. To clear them out you can try drinking detoxifying juice, go on a cleanse, or consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for an individualized plan. But first you want to scrape off these toxins from your tongue so you don’t re-ingest them into your system. Use a tongue scraper. You can find the tongue scrapers at most health food stores or online. Stainless steel are great because they don’t rust. Scrape the tongue gently, working from back to front. It will usually take between seven and 14 strokes to get it clean and clear (be sure not to scrape it too hard as not to make your taste buds bleed!)
3. Have a green smoothie for breakfast. There a many different recipes for green smoothies available online, but Ayurveda encourages a seasonal diet and ingredients that balance out the qualities already occurring in nature. Since it’s fall, nature brings out the dry, rough, light, cold, subtle & mobile qualities of life (Vata dosha). This means for optimal health we want to steer away from foods and activities that have these same qualities (the idea is that too much of a good thing leads to sickness and disease).
4. Add more sweet, sour and salty foods into your diet. Fall (Vata season) carries with it dry, rough, light, cold, subtle & mobile qualities. This means that to maintain a balance in our system we want to steer away from foods that also hold these same qualities. One way we can achieve balance in the Fall is by eating foods that ground, moisten, nurture and warm the body. Sweet, sour and salty tastes are the ideal. Here are some examples of foods to include in your meals: fresh sweet fruits like mango, coconut, berries and peaches; fresh sour fruits like cherries, plums, green grapes, lemon and limes; sweet veggies like beets, carrots (cooked), peas
5. Give yourself an oil massage. It nourishes the skin, relaxes the nervous system, removes impurities from the plasma blood & feeds the inner tissues of the body.
In the same way that a machine needs greasing, the body loves to be oiled for sheer pleasure as well as to protect it against the environment and over time. Here’s a list of oil that are best for each Dosha:
Vata: sesame oil, almond oil
Pitta: coconut oil, olive oil
Kapha: sunflower oil, grapeseed oil
Note: always use organic and cold-pressed oils when rubbing them directly onto your skin
You may also want to warm the oil slightly prior to starting:
Put 1/8 – 1/4 cup of oil in a clear plastic squeeze bottle.
Put bottle in a cup of very hot water.
Let it sit for about 5 minutes or until warm.
Make sure you have a clean towel for drying off after your shower or bath.
Use circular strokes over the joints and abdomen
Use up-and-down strokes over the limbs
When finished, leave the oil on for 15-30 minutes and follow with a hot shower or bath. The hot water opens up the pours and brings the oil into the deeper tissues of the body (lotion doesn’t nourish the deeper tissues, only the outer skin).
Add these few Ayurvedic rituals into your daily schedule to help you stay healthy throughout the Fall season. Enjoy!!
Ayurveda originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is still the oldest continuously practiced health-care system in the world. Ayurveda focuses on food, lifestyle, massage, yoga and herbal remedies to suit our individual make-up. Ayurveda is holistic, comprehensive and simple to understand, though the science behind it is rich and complex.
The word Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit words; Ayur meaning "life" & Veda meaning "knowledge" or "science." This life science is often described as Yoga’s sister science. It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential. Providing guidelines on ideal routines, diet, behavior, and the proper use of our senses. Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.
Body Elements & Constitution (Prakriti)
There are five elements of which the human body is made up of: akasha (ether), Vayu (air), Agni (Fire), Jala (Water) and Prithvi (earth).
Because of the above five elements, all human beings are constituted with a combination of two or three primary ones. These are called Doshas: Kapha, Vata and Pitta. Any person is easy to treat with the identification of his/her category.
Vata category is combination of space and air elements: People are fearful, illogical and insecure. Skin can be dry. They have thin hair. They have dark brown or grey eyes. Vata activates the nervous system, hearing and speech and the persons is a great enthusiast with creativity. However, the state of mind can become easily imbalanced because of insomnia, cramps and constipation.
Pitta category is fire element: These people are achievers, intellectual, fiery, angry, judgmental, with clear voice and precise expression. They have soft and fine hair. Eyes are blue, grey and hazel. They are good leaders and warm personality when healthy. Because of emphasis on metabolism and anger, they may suffer from acidity, ulcers, rashes and thinning of hair.
Kapha category is water and earth element: They have thick lustrous hair. Eyes are blue or brown. People have great endurance capacity with calm and steady mind. They are capable of forgiveness and intense love. Sometimes they are greedy and possessive. Kapha is the lubricant that keeps the joints working, keeps the body vibrant and balanced with immunity. Too much of it leads to lethargy, congestion, allergies and weight gain.
Nature of ailments
After the Prakriti is decided, one should know the nature of the diseases (Vikriti). It is imbalance obviously, but there are two extremes to every imbalance, either deficiency or excess. Those are heavy-light, slow-sharp, cold-hot, unctuous-dry, smooth-rough, solid-liquid, soft-hard, stable-mobile, subtle-gross, and non-slimy-slimy. When corrected, Prakriti or original constitution is restored.
These 20 characteristics with regards to one’s basic constitution will decide the treatment. These may be caused by wrong foods causing improper digestion, wrong sleeping habits, improper mindset, anxiety etc.
The essential way to maintain physical and mental health is by keeping these 5 elements in each dosha in harmonic balance. This can be done through balanced diet, medicinal herbs and healthy life style practices. Imbalances in doshas can lead to various diseases, early aging and compromised immune system. We may be dominated by one or more of these doshas or element. By understanding which dosha type you are proper diet and herbal treatment can be established specifically for you.
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