Ever feel overwhelmed?
Like it’s impossible to find the time to fit everything in?
There’s a way to increase your energy and feel happier, without eating up tons of time.
The ancient science of Ayurveda teaches us how to change our lifestyles for long, happy lives.
That means taking care ourselves now by using our eating, sleeping, working and exercising habits to our benefit.
When I learned about Ayurveda, I held down a stressful corporate job where I traveled each week. And I faced the following familiar challenges: what to eat, and how to fit in exercise or yoga. I made a few changes to my diet and lifestyle.
The result? I felt more energetic and less stressed. And surprise—I was actually more effective at my job.
Ayurveda empowers by helping us to make the best choices given any constraints.
We all need a helping hand these days and Ayurveda teaches us how to live in harmony with our true nature. Although it’s a vast subject, we’ll start with a few simple changes.
1. Stoking our inner fire.
Imagine a fragrant curry simmering on your stovetop. The odors of pungent and sweet spices waft through the air.
Ever wonder why the smell of delicious spices make our mouths water? Spices have a visceral effect; they signal nourishment to our brains.
Not only do spices like ginger, cumin, coriander and pepper taste delicious, but they’re also useful to our bodies.
In Ayurveda, our digestion determines if we feel energetic or lethargic. Called agni, our digestive fire transforms food that’s useful to our cells. If we don’t break down food properly, or we eat junk, our cells aren’t happy.
When feeding a fire we need just the right type, combination and quality of fuel.
A diet of simple whole foods provides the optimal nourishment or fuel for our fire. And spices encourage the release of digestive enzymes, boosting our digestion and energy levels. In Ayurveda, poor digestion is the source of maladies such as allergies, atherosclerosis, diabetes and arthritis.
Many of these spices have specific medicinal properties.
With a fine-tuned digestion, you’ll have more energy for the important things in life. And don’t we all want that?
2. Hold the ice.
Ayurvedic guidelines tell us to eat and drink warm or room temperature foods. Not cold. Not icy. Because cold freezes our inner fires.
Science supports this rule. Our bodies secrete digestive enzymes—amylase, protase, and lipase to digest each of the macronutrients—carbs, protein and fat. Our enzymes work at a temperature range close to our body temperature.
Drinking a bucket of ice-cold liquids paralyzes our digestion. In a biology lab, I saw firsthand how the enzymes are temperature sensitive. Those in very cold water didn’t digest their macronutrient solutions.
So you know how most American restaurants serve drinks with a virtual iceberg of cubes? That’s a death sentence for digestion.
The solution? Drink water and tea at room temperature or slightly warmer. When in hot climates, chill the water a bit, but hold the ice. And the same goes for food—warm or at least room temperature food is better than cold.
Many of my Ayurvedic clients have noticed better digestion, and fewer tummy troubles, such as IBS and cramping, after making this change.
This simple change will stoke your inner fire even more and give you more energy. And those niggly tummy troubles? Smile as they disappear, and you’ll feel amazing.
3. Skip (or lighten) breakfast.
Are you hungry when you wake up? If you truly aren’t hungry in the morning, don’t eat breakfast. That’s right: skipping breakfast is appropriate for those who truly aren’t hungry.
In Ayurvedic sessions with clients, some want to stand up and cheer because they really hate eating breakfast. And they’ve practically been forced to eat when they’re not hungry their whole lives.
Eating breakfast goes against some people’s natural hunger cues. Ayurveda breaks us up into constitutions or categories that determine the type of diet and lifestyle that are suited to each of us.
Remember our digestive fires? Keeping it balanced is key to our health. In the morning, our bodies wake, and some of us need time to build up an appetite. Eating a big bowl of granola and yogurt isn’t right for certain (Kapha) constitutions.
So if you have no appetite in the early hours, wait until 10:00 a.m. to eat a light breakfast of fruit or warm cereal.
If you have an appetite, the best breakfasts warm, ground, and gently wake up our metabolisms. Simple, warm foods like oatmeal or rice cereal coupled with a spice, such as cinnamon, are perfect in the morning.
Paying attention to our morning hunger cues is a simple way to boost our energy levels.
4. Massage away worries.
Oil massage, called Abhyanga in Sanskrit, is a little-known way to combat stress.
The Ayurvedic classics describe surprising benefits including increased longevity, improved sleep, better skin, and even a firmer body. Abhanyga also increases circulation to our arms, legs, and back, working away soreness and injury.
The heavy, warm quality of the oil on your skin feels like getting a loving hug from grandmother.
To try it out, choose a raw, organic sesame, coconut, or almond oil. Warm the oil by running hot water over the bottle.
Start by applying oil to your arms and legs, then work your way toward your torso, starting at the upper back and shoulders, then at the middle. At your belly button make round clockwise motions to encourage the digestion of waste. Massage the oil into your body so that it penetrates into the deeper layers—a minimum of 15 minutes of massage for the whole body.
This is a simple way to energize and revitalize without booking an expensive massage.
Creating simple self-care rituals is a shortcut to feeling happier and healthier.
5. Master our thoughts.
Many of us suffer from depression and anxiety, sometimes cycling between the two. If you don’t understand how your mind works, you can get stuck in a trap of feeling negative, depressed, self-critical, or anxious.
The Ayurvedic understanding of the mind dates back 7,000 years. Thoughts, moods, and feelings are transitory—but often they trap us. If we forget their transient nature, we can feel trapped in the state of feeling down. The person behind the thoughts is permanent.
The truth is that we have the power of choice. Not in what enters our minds, but how we react to the content. When a disempowering thought comes like, “No one cares. I feel miserable,” empowerment comes from how we react to that thought.
We can ask, does this thought bring peace or harm? And if it brings harm, we can challenge it by telling ourselves that it isn’t true, and allowing it to leave.
Ayurveda and yoga use meditative methods such as breathing and mantra to distract ourselves from harmful thoughts. Gradually, our minds lose their negative tendencies. And we can peer beyond the content of our minds to our true selves. Simple mantras to try are sham, as in shanti, om or so (on inhale) hum (on exhale).
Try these techniques, and let’s stop wasting energy on negative thoughts. When negative thoughts disappear, we create more space for happiness.
Let’s jump off the hamster wheel.
It’s easy to add a few spices to our meals, stop drinking cold drinks, and tweak our breakfasts.
Ayurveda gives us a wonderful and natural set of tools to boost our health and happiness.
And we all deserve to feel happy and energetic.
It’s really quite simple.
Ready to get started?
Author: Jessica Blanchard
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author Owns