| LINDSEY WILSON
Ayurveda is not another health trend made popular by the internet. Its roots originate in ancient India where practitioners saw a connection between a bloated stomach and an anxious mind; a body gaining weight, and feelings of depression.
The notion that there is a connection between your mind and body is not a new age revelation, but rather an ancient concept that gave life to the practice of Ayurveda. This practice is less about following rules and more pointed toward understanding your mind and body at the present time. Twenty years from now, you'll be making adjustments to fit your body as it will be at that point in your life.
Like nature, you are ever-changing and always evolving, so the way you care for your mind and body must evolve with you. Let's dig a little deeper into how you can connect with the foundations of your being so that you can bring your whole self into balance as you journey through life.
So what is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a practice of holistic medicine that forms its basis around the idea of promoting balance between your body and mind. In the world and practice of Ayurvedic medicine the prevailing concept is that everything is made of the five elements: space (commonly known as ether) , water, air, fire, and earth. These elements combine to make up three different energy types, or doshas - vata (air + ether), pitta (fire + water), and kapha (water + earth).
The main emphasis of Ayurveda is the prevention of sickness by keeping your body in balance through a diet and lifestyle that is appropriate for your dosha. Doshas are known as different types of energies circulating within your body. There are many internal and external factors that can disturb the balance between doshas, but knowledge of Ayurveda can help you understand your specific needs and make positive adjustments to your lifestyle.
You are a unique being, and you have a unique ratio of each dosha - much like your fingerprint, your constitution is one of a kind. Your particular pattern of energies is a combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics that only you experience.
Everyone possesses the energies of vata, pitta, and kapha. But it's typical for one to be more dominant, another to be secondary, and the remaining to be tertiary. Let's look a little closer at the properties of each dosha.
This is the energy tied to movement. The energy needed to move nutrients and fluids to your cells is governed by this dosha.
Your body's metabolism and ability to digest is the expression of this dosha. Pitta generates the energy to absorb and assimilate nutrients into the cells of your body.
Here we find the energy needed to keep your cells lubricated and maintain their structure.
When vata is imbalanced, the result is fear and anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and digestive issues such as constipation or bloating. Out of balance, pitta leads to irritability, inflammation, and skin issues. If kapha becomes imbalanced, one might experience sluggishness, a slow metabolism, and susceptibility to depression.
...In your diet
A change in diet according to your unique needs is one facet of restoring harmony between doshas. For instance, if you are vata dominant your Ayurvedic practitioner might suggest that you focus on foods that are warm and cooked. Below are dietary suggestions for each dominant dosha.
- Vata - warm, cooked, salty, sour, and sweet; avoid cold and raw foods, alcohol, and tobacco. Consider adding more oils, oats, rice, nut butters, bone broth, and spices.
- Pitta - cool, sweet, bitter, and astringent; avoid spicy, sour, salty foods, coffee, and alcohol. Try adding plenty of veggies, grains, and sweet fruits.
- Kapha - astringent, bitter, pungent; avoid dairy, fats, sweet or sour fruits. Consider roasted veggies and legumes.
...In your lifestyle
Your Ayurvedic practitioner might prescribe the following lifestyle changes to help balance your mind and emotions with your body’s needs.
- Mindful eating
- Sleep hygiene
- Establishing mindful rituals
- More time by yourself
- More time with your loved ones
- Redrawing your work-life boundaries
Reducing stress and anxiety is the key to aligning your mental and emotional states with the physiological needs of your body. These practices promote peace and balance within your daily life, contributing to the foundation you need to transform your health.
Benefits of Ayurveda
If you're committed to making a change for the betterment of your health, it's helpful to know what to expect from making changes to your diet and lifestyle with the guidance of Ayurvedic medicine.
Following the diet suggestions for your dosha type means you're incorporating more whole foods into your daily routine. This can lead to a more nutrient dense plate at every meal. Your fiber intake will increase as well, leading to better digestive health.
Ayurveda encourages awareness of how you feel in the moment. Mindful eating (paying close attention to the flavor, texture, and smell of your food) in particular not only helps with weight loss, easing stress, and reducing depression1 - it also promotes a healthier relationship with your food2.
Routines and rituals are paramount to improved physical and mental health. Rituals and structure are staples in Ayurvedic medicine and can help channel your energies for the betterment of your whole self.
Know Your Constitution
It's time to celebrate the rediscovery that health isn't just what relates to our physical being, but also includes what's happening in our minds and in our hearts. To achieve optimal health through the principles of Ayurveda, it is important to know your unique blueprint - mind, body, and spirit. Even more important is frequently checking in with every aspect of our health. You will grow and evolve, and therefore your approach to caring for all of you will change too.
- Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Mindful Eating: Connecting With the Wise Self, the Spiritual Self - PubMed (nih.gov)
Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.
Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?
Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.
"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.
When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing