Disclaimer: While we produce all our content here at Talsam from a space of love, we do not claim to be experts. The following content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health professional before making any changes related to your physical and mental health.
There is a life force that resides within all of us.
One made up of different, fundamental energies. When in balance, they create a symbiosis between the mind, body, and consciousness that form a strong foundation for a healthy life. These are the whispers of Ayurveda.
Recognized by scholars around the globe as one of the world’s most ancient healing sciences, Ayurveda is often praised as the “Mother of All Healing.” Many believe that Ayurveda is key to a long and happy life. Could practicing this ancient wisdom indeed keep the doctor away?
While modern medicine still very much has its place in our world, embracing some of the concepts of Ayurveda could mean feeling just that little bit better in your everyday life. Overall, there’s a strong chance you’ll experience more inner peace and emotional balance as a result of applying some of its wisdom.
If you’re wondering how Ayurveda could benefit your physical and mental wellbeing, as well as how to start applying its teachings, then read on.
Why practice Ayurveda?
While many of our modern health practices are focused on treating health concerns as they occur, Ayurveda is established on a philosophy of prevention. Your body is a beautiful instrument. The teachings of Ayurveda encourages us to tune in to this instrument and seek out where the balance (or imbalance) may be. Through a combination of lifestyle, mindset, and dietary changes, this ancient wisdom can help you discover that balance again and foster connection between mind, body, and spirit.
That being said, Ayurveda doesn’t provide one generic, blanket prescription for all ailments. Crucially, the ancient Indian practice identifies that each one of our constitutions (the composition of our bodies) is unique. In other words, no two people are the same. Inevitably, this means that what works for one person within Ayurveda may not work for another. It’s about getting to know your body as well as you can and embracing its individuality.
Ancient wisdom for modern life
Now, more than ever, alternative practices like Ayurveda are increasingly relevant. We live in a society where prescription drugs are heavily relied on to solve the majority of our health problems. The result is a build-up of toxicity within our bodies that can actually serve to weaken our natural defenses. In turn, this can be exacerbated by the stresses and strains we experience in our hectic day-to-day lives as well as the processed foods we consume. As such, there’s been a growing movement towards strengthening our body’s immune system naturally - from the inside out - so that we can better contend with the challenges of external life. Ayurveda supports this through its natural healing and health practices focused on sustaining our bodies over the long-term.
The origins of Ayurveda
It is said that Ayurveda first lived in what is known as ‘Brahma’, or universal consciousness, until it was entrusted by the creator to the ancient mystics of India. As one of the world’s oldest sciences, the origins of Ayurveda can be traced as far back as 1300 BCE in the Indus Valley civilization (modern Pakistan). It was in the Ganges Basin, somewhere between 500-1000 BCE, where a people calling themselves the Arya or ‘noble ones’ began practicing a spirituality that was both uplifting and life-affirming. They documented this in the Vedas, an ancient Sanskrit text that celebrated life, the elements as well as plants, animals, and some of the herbs that would come to feature prominently within the Ayurvedic diet.
Throughout the following centuries, Ayurvedic wisdom would continue to evolve and deepen, resulting in the creation of more texts, Charak Samhita and Sushrut Samhita chief among them. Throughout India’s many different ages, both prosperous and tumultuous, Ayurveda remained consistently relied upon by India’s greater population. Once India regained independence, it became, once again, one of the country’s highest-regarded medicinal systems.
From the mid-20th century onward, Westerners traveling to Indian began to discover the learnings of meditation, yoga, and Ayurveda. Since then, Ayurveda has experienced a kind of Renaissance, as it is increasingly embraced around the globe and popularized by influential figures, such as Deepak Chopra.
Balancing your constitution
Central to Ayurveda is the belief that our bodies, minds, and souls are very much unique. Just as every person has a different fingerprint, our constitutions have their particular patterns, balance of energies, as well as physical and mental traits.
These are affected by both internal and external factors, which can unsettle the equilibrium of our constitutions. Intense emotions, stress from work or relationships, poor diet, seasonal effects, and physical stress or trauma are just a few of the external forces that contribute to this.
Ayurveda is about gaining understanding and perspective of these stressors so we can better manage or eradicate them and subsequently redirect our bodies back to a state of balance and intention. The result can, in some cases, be a powerful shift that can come close to, or even completely, reducing the symptoms we experience.
Understanding your Dosha
The fundamentals of Ayurveda are surprisingly simple as the entire science is based on three different types of energies. However, the way these energies interact can produce a myriad of different effects within our bodies and minds. Some people will have a more dominant energy, while others may have a combination of two or even all three of these.
- Vata - As the energy of movement derived from Space and Air, Vata is essential to our breathing, pulse, and muscle and tissue movement. When Vata is in balance, people may feel particularly creative or flexible. An imbalance can cause unnecessary anxiety, fear, or restlessness.
- Pitta - Fire and Water form the basis for this particular energy, which feeds into the body’s metabolic system. Absorption, digestion, metabolism, and nutrition can all contribute to Pitta’s balance or imbalance. Pitta at peace inspires empathy and intellectual pursuit. When out of balance, jealousy, anger, and hatred ensue.
- Kapha - The foundation of our body’s muscles, bones, and tendons, Kapha is a product of Earth and Water that acts as a connector for the cells. It’s also a kind of irrigation system for the body, supplying water to all its different parts and systems, moisturizing the skin, and lubricating joints. When balanced, Kapha instils forgiveness, love, and kindness. When imbalanced, its side effects are greed, envy, and neediness.
You can find out what your most dominant dosha(s) are by taking this quiz by Pukka.
A compliment, not a replacement
While preventive medicine, like Ayurveda, can be incredibly powerful, it’s essential to keep in mind that it has its place within the overall landscape of our health. While Ayurveda can produce some fantastic results, it’s important to remember that it’s a compliment to and not a replacement of Western medicine. Allopathic medicine is still needed when intervention is required to improve acute conditions. Drugs and surgery have saved many lives and will still yet.
What Ayurveda can do is strengthen our body’s defenses so that we can better manage these invasive and drug-based treatments, and perhaps even prevent future flare-ups. The best thing you can do is to use Ayurveda in conjunction with Western medicine, while maintaining a healthy balanced diet and exercise regime.
Here are 7 tips for inviting Ayurveda into your life...
Focus on how you eat your food
One of the biggest focuses of Ayurveda is digestion. That is, after all, how our body absorbs all the nutrients it needs. Eating food calmly and mindfully is one of the best ways to bring about better digestion and, thus, is one of the central tenants of Ayurveda. You can further improve digestion by adding spices, such as cumin or turmeric, to your food. You could also try a teaspoon of fresh ginger with a few drops of lemon juice and a pinch of salt before your heaviest meals. That will activate your salivary glands to produce the right amount of digestive enzymes. Ginger tea is yet another enabler of proper digestion.
Drink warm lemon water
Start your day off well with a cup of warm water with lemon. This will wake up your digestion system and is also ideal for cleansing your body of toxins.
Be mindful of what you eat
Ayurveda practitioners have encouraged the consumption of fresh instead of processed foods for a long time, and there’s a good reason why. Canned, packaged, or frozen foods are more difficult to digest and can produce more toxins in your body. So, when you can, opt for fresh, whole foods. Your diet should also change depending on the season. Try lighter fare in the Spring and Summer with fruits and salads. In the winter, opt for heartier meals like stews and soups chock full of root vegetables.
Give your tongue a good scrub
According to Ayurveda, our tongues can tell us a lot about the current state of our health. The fuzz, bumps, and film that appears on our tongues can signal that specific organs are clogged and that food is undigested. You can also easily reingest the toxins on your tongue by swallowing them back into your body. That’s why it’s a good idea to give your tongue a good scrape, particularly before you drink your first cup of coffee or a cup of water in the morning. It’s easy to do while you’re brushing your teeth. You can even use a special tongue scraper to do this.
Meditate or practice self-care
Part of what Ayurveda teaches us is to manage stress and overwhelming emotions better. Meditation offers a powerful way of quieting the mind and reconnecting with our inner souls. Daily practice can lead to experiencing greater inner peace and balance, which will ultimately reflect in your overall health. If meditation isn’t your cup of tea, there are many other spiritual practices you can adopt. Alternatively, you could come up with your own unique way of showing yourself love and self-care.
Diffuse with essential oils
Essential oils are all the rage at the moment, but they’ve been part of Ayurvedic practice for thousands of years. Using essential oils for aromatherapy allows scents to travel to the hypothalamus in your brain. This area is responsible for the regulation of your bodily functions, growth, sleep, and emotional responses. Ayurveda stresses that these oils should be inhaled and not directly ingested (which could lead to further issues).
Follow the Dosha throughout your day
Ayurveda teaches that Dosha not only form the basis of the body but also make up different timesof the day. The Doshas cycle throughout the day. As such, certain times of the day are better for certain activities over others:
- 6 am-10 am - The cycle begins when Kapha is most prominent, meaning this is a great time to stay grounded and peaceful. You can do this by getting up before sunrise and waking up your body and mind slowly with meditation and nourishing food and drink.
- 10 am-2 pm - Is when Pitta is most active. It’s an ideal time for ticking those challenging tasks off your list. At noon, your digestion is most effective, so your lunch should be your biggest meal of the day.
- 2 pm-6 pm - Vatta brings the cycle to an end, making this a particularly great time to get creative, so try writing, cooking, or any other expressive task around this time.
- 6 pm-10 pm - Kapha is yet again strongest, meaning a new cycle has begun. That makes sense, given that most of us wind down for bed during this time. Therefore, more calm and peaceful activities, such as reading or meditation, are appropriate during this time.
The teachings of Ayurveda are simple yet powerful. These suggestions can help with alleviating stress, promoting better digestion, and changing how you see food or your body’s energy. Regardless as to whether or not you experience immediate positive effects, you will already be cultivating a greater sense of self-awareness.
If you try any of the above tips, let us know how it goes.