I know what you’re thinking: what is an “Ayurvedic Lifestyle”? The term “ayurveda” dates back over 5000 years and has its origins in India with the Hindu religion. Ayurveda means “science of life” in the ancient language of Sanskrit. Overall, it encompasses a set of ideals and a way of life that aims at balancing out the bodies’ systems, eliminating toxins, and creating peace through diet, breathing, and some herbal treatments.
With Ayurveda, there are five elements that make up everything in the universe around us: earth, water, air, fire, and space. Special combinations of the five elements make up the three doshas: vata, kapha, and pitta. Everyone has a different dosha, and according to your dosha, you must carry out the guidelines of ayurveda differently. The following are 7 steps to achieving balance through ayurveda, and depending on your dosha, your specific guidelines may vary.
1. Meditate to Center
Meditation has been long practiced in India and with the Hindu and Buddhist religions. It is also a secular practice. Meditation involves a setting aside a time each day (often 10 minutes a day will have just as much of an impact as 30 minutes a day) in which you “sit.” Literally, you sit on a meditation cushion on the floor, ideally in “full lotus” or “half lotus positions” (both feet folded onto opposite knees in front of you or just one) and concentrate on your breathing or a mantra such as “breathe in, breathe out.” This helps you to center your mind and achieve balance, which is, after all, the foundation of ayurveda.
2. Eat Fresh, Eat Consistent
An ayurvedic lifestyle stresses eating whole foods from the ground and avoiding all animal proteins. You should never overeat. The fruits and vegetables that you choose should be fresh, if possible, and all processed foods, including canned, frozen, and packaged products should be cut out entirely. You should avoid eating extremely hot or extremely cold foods. Your specific dosha will tell you what foods to eat exactly. Some foods, for example, will throw off your personal balance, while the same food may restore someone else’s balance.
3. Cleanse and Flush Out Toxins
With an ayurvedic lifestyle you will want to flush out toxins that have built up in your body. Toxins are also known as “ama.” You can flush out ama by first, drinking a lot of water. You can also experiment with fasting, although you should not go too long without eating or drinking. Some people living an ayurvedic lifestyle also use enemas to detoxify.
4. Massage for Relaxation and Peace
Often in ayurvedic practices, herbal oils are used in massage. They are rubbed into the skin by a practitioner, who has combined specific oils (depending on your dosha) and will massage specific parts of your body with these oil combinations. If you do not have a practitioner in your area, however, feel free to use self massage, which can be just as good. Herbalized oils can be purchased easily in health stores or on the internet.
5. Early to Bed, Early to Rise
No matter what your dosha, the ayurvedic lifestyle requires a good night’s rest every night. To achieve this, it is recommended to retire to bed no later than 10pm each night and to rise very early. It is also suggested that you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time daily, for routine is key in attaining balance in your life.
6. Breathe Deeply
Yogic breathing is a type of breathing often done with the movement practice of yoga, but it can be done any time. Slow, deep, and even breathing has been known to balance the heart rate, calm nerves and reduce stress. Whenever possible, pay attention to your breathing and gently take control of it–especially when you’re feeling flustered or frazzled.
7. Go Outside and Move your Body
This step has two parts. First, Connect with nature. Go outside and take a run or ride your bike. If you can’t run, walk. Or, if you just want to sit outside, that’s fine. Have lunch in a park with your family, or wake up early to meditate on the grass while the sun rises. Ideally, you should spend as much time as you can outside each day, observing the wonder of nature around you: the rocks, trees, and hillsides. Take joy in the flowers that grow and the birds that sing.