I was born and raised in India, where the ageless wisdom of Ayurveda runs in your blood through food, home remedies and seasonal practices.
Very few people speak in terms of Ayurveda, but many practice it. Although I continue to study this life-altering knowledge, the seven highlighted practices in this article will be an investment in your long-term health and well-being.
Ayurveda’s wisdom is simple: Stay aligned with nature—your own true nature—and you will experience greater health and happiness.
1. Meditate: Meditation is the best tool for purifying the mind. It is not only good for your mind, but also for your body. There are many forms of meditation you can choose from. 15 minutes at least once a day is sufficient to receive benefits. I prefer a mantra-based meditation because I experience greater awareness and feel a connection to the divine. You can also do silent meditation where you observe the in and out breath. This brings balance and soothes the nervous system.
One of my most favorite mantra is for Goddess Laskhmi. She is the bestower of spiritual and material wealth. This mantra will bring a soft strength to your feminine energy. Om Shreem Sriyaye Namaha. Chant this 108 times and enjoy the subtle calmness and serenity you will experience. You can use a japa mala to count (one round is 108) or just keep time for 10 minutes.
2. Self-massage: Massage your body with warm oil each day. Follow it up with a hot shower. The benefits include glowing skin, better circulation, stronger muscles, better lymph drainage, pacified nervous system and deep relaxation. Ayurveda prescribes different oils for different body/mind types.
Vatas and kaphas benefit from using sesame oil, while pittas can use sunflower or olive oil. You will need about 3-4 ounces of warm oil. Begin with the top of you head by placing one tsp of warm oil on your scalp. Massage with the palms of your hands and then gently massage your face and neck with oil. Use circular strokes on your chest and abdomen, long strokes on your limbs. Follow the same method for your back body.
End with a vigorous massage of your feet. Let it all soak in before you take a hot shower. Be sure to use caution when you step into the shower with oily feet. This self-massage will pacify all the doshas and give you a sense of deep relaxation. It also soothes the nervous system and gives your glowing supple skin.
3. Hydrate: Sip hot water. Drop the habit of iced water and beverages. Ice dampens your digestive fire. Digestive fire is responsible for proper digestion and assimilation. Having a healthy digestive fire is one of the pillars of health. If your fire is dampened, weak or sluggish, you may gain weight, develop allergies and have low appetite. Water that is boiled for 10 minutes enhances your digestive fire and cleanses your digestive tract. Take hot water with a bit of lemon or lime juice with your meals. It liquefies fatty substances in your meal and helps with digestion and elimination.
4. Cook: Preparing your own meals is a great act of self-nurturance. Simple foods prepared with intention and love using seasonal ingredients will do great for your long-term health. It is easy on your body and bank balance. Shopping at your local farmer’s market is an effortless way to ensure that you are eating seasonal foods. A crock pot and rice cooker are the most basic gadgets that will help you make healthy meals at home. See recipe below.
5. Reflect: Take a break each day and be in nature. Be away from all electronic stimulation and enjoy the deep peace that emanates from silence. Your senses will become more alert, your intuition stronger and you will once again experience the wonder of nature. You are composed of the five elements: air, fire, water, ether and earth. Spending time in nature allows you to enjoy the very qualities of the sea elements such as the breeze, the warmth of the sun, the healing energy of water and the steadiness of the earth.
6. Move: Dancing connects you to your soul. It is not like vigorous exercise. The movement, the expressions and grace that you feel from the music will connect you to the natural rhythms of nature within your own body. Sacred dance is a way to commune with the divine. The postures, hand gestures, expressions all lend to the beauty of the physical body and heart and our connection the to divine.
7. Ease: Be easy and trust that everything unfolds as it will. This might be the most challenging for many of us. Align your will with Divine will and rest in ease. All that you wish to manifest will come to fruition. The late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is well-known for saying, “Do less, accomplish more.” By this he meant that the more connected we are to our higher consciousness, the easily we can manifest all of our desires. Have a sacred intention, focus on it when you meditate and then sit back allow the universe to bring it to you. Trust that your desires are waiting to come to fruition as and when you are ready to receive it.
We are expressions of the divine in human form. It is our birthright to experience joy and ease in our lives. Incorporate these simple Ayurvedic tools and enjoy the gifts of this timeless wisdom. Make these rituals a part of your life. Honor your body/mind and your sacred heart. Enjoy this journey of knowing yourself and taking care of yourself.
Bonus Ayurveda Recipe:
Quinoa with Almonds, Shitake Mushrooms and Spinach
Ingredients: 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water, 1 tsp salt, a few grinding of black pepper, 2 tbsp oil, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/8 cup slivered almonds, 5 shitake mushrooms sliced, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 cups baby spinach leaves and lemon juice (optional).
Preparation: Place the quinoa, salt and water in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook on low heat for 15-18 minutes. In the meanwhile, heat the oil in small skillet and add the onion, almonds and mushrooms and cook on medium heat till tender – about 4-5 minutes. Add this to the cooked quinoa along with the spinach and mix well. Serve with lemon juice on top.
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Aparna Khanolkar is an Ayurvedic educator and workshop facilitator in Santa Barbara. She is the author of “Happy Belly Happy Soul,“ “A Mother’s Blessing,” “Spice” and “Purify and Heal.” She is the co-founder of Grace, Power and Beauty, a workshop series for women. Connect with her at: www.gracepowerandbeauty.blogspot.com and www.themistressofspice.com/blog.
Editor: Carolyn Gilligan