December 31, 2016

8 Techniques to Kick-Start your Healthy Lifestyle the Ayurvedic Way.

As a traveling yogi, I move around quite a bit from week to week.

Hopping between cold, dry climates to heat and humidity, experiencing constant temperatures changes of more 35 degrees at a time, shifting time zones on the daily and spending hours each week up in the air on long-haul flights, I experience my fair share of imbalance and instability.

Ayurveda dramatically changed all of this for me and brought a sense of grounding and centering back into my life.

I was briefly introduced to Ayurveda during my 300-hour yoga teacher training. It confused me but also intrigued me and I instantly knew I wanted to learn more. Nine months later, I was on my way to Mexico to complete a 4-week training in Ayurvedic Yoga, but little did I know what a profound effect it would have on my everyday life.

Ayurveda, the science of yoga, enables an individual to create a balanced, healthy lifestyle that is specific to their body. Ayurveda taught me to really understand and listen to my body, to keep myself balanced in every aspect and most importantly, to heal myself.

Here are eight tips on how to incorporate Ayurvedic principles into daily life:

1. Keep a Food Diary.

This food diary is not intended keep track of calories or to judge yourself at the end of the day. It is about raising awareness of how different foods affect your mind and body. Before studying Ayurveda, I thought I had a sound idea of which foods were healthy and which to avoid but I wasn’t really aware of which foods were healthy for my body or how I, as an individual, responded to various food combinations.

After just a couple of days of keeping my food diary and increasing my awareness of what exactly I was feeling inside my body, I was amazed at the discoveries I had made. I realised that certain foods and food combinations that I had considered to be beneficial for my body, were actually harmful for both my body and mind. This was the first step to understanding what my body really needs and benefits from.

2. Get a Routine.

I am constantly on the move, from one country to the next, I often cover three or four continents in just one month, so my routine was fairly non-existent until I was introduced to Ayurveda, which taught me the importance of establishing morning and night-time routines.

I was initially very resistant to this concept. I revel in the fact that I don’t have too much routine in my life, as I often feel that it can be restrictive. But I came to learn that a certain amount of routine is essential in order to maintain a sense of grounding, especially for someone who moves around as much as I do.

I established a very short, effortless morning routine to start with, then introduced a simple bed-time routine. Since then, this has become much more elaborate and specific to my needs. I always stick to my routine, no matter whether I’m on a long-haul flight or in the depths of the rainforest.

3. Spice it Up

Herbs and spices were never really my thing, I didn’t know how to use them or why I should, and so I almost never did. Since learning about the abundance of therapeutic, medicinal properties that herbs and spices have to offer, I now use an array of them in all of my cooking, hot teas, and cleansing products. Even my bed time routine includes herbs and spices!

One of the biggest changes for me is that I now only use herbal remedies for mild illness or ailments, rather than instantly turning to pharmaceutical treatment. Getting familiar and creative with herbs and spices to throw into meals or hot drinks can work wonders for your well-being.

4. Mix it Up

I will admit, I used to be one of those people who was resistant to trying new dishes or a mixing combination of flavors that, in my eyes, just didn’t fuse well. In Ayurveda, there are a lot of healthy food combinations that can be highly beneficial and many which should be completely eliminated from our diets. This, again, was something that I was initially very resistant to, since many of my favourite combinations—cheese and tomato, fruit and yoghurt, honey and hot water—are Ayurvedic no-nos. But then I began to accept that maybe that’s why I used to have so many digestive problems, and now I have far fewer.

5. Dream Journal

Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. As someone who has suffered for many years with frequent sleep paralysis, sleep apnea, vivid dreams and nightmares, understanding my sleep patterns and how it is effected by waking life is key. Once I started to keep a journal of my sleep and dream behaviour and linked it back to my food diary, I was able to make significant connections between certain foods and practices and my dreams and sleep patterns, often in profound ways. From this, I was able to establish a night-time routine to promote healthy, balanced sleep, which of course promotes a healthy, balanced waking life.

6. Find your Practice

We all have a preference to what type of yoga and fitness we do, as well as having a type that we always avoid. In Ayurveda, it is important to find a yoga practice that can balance our individual body types. Often we are attracted to fitness regimes that will throw us more off balance.

For instance, if I’m feeling heavy and lethargic, I am attracted to a slow-paced practice such as yin. Meanwhile, if I am feeling unfocused and ungrounded, I crave a faced-paced practice such as power yoga. When what my body and mind actually need is the exact opposite. Tuning into this and finding the practice that is most suitable for your body that particular day, is essential.

7. Kitchari Cleanse

I am not a fan of fad diets or detox cleanses. I have tried more than a few but have not been happy with the process or the outcome of most. So when I was told that I would be partaking in the five-day kitchari cleanse, I was not too willing. I was eventually persuaded to give it a try and managed to succeed in the five-day cleanse with a spirit of positivity.

The kitchari cleanse is very different from other cleanses. It doesn’t leave you feeling dissatisfied, hungry or desperately craving food. It is a neutral, balanced meal, packed full of tasty spices and nutrients and it is definitely how I will be starting my new year.

8. Know your Dosha

In order to really delve into the Ayurvedic lifestyle, you need to know and understand your dosha. If you’re really interested, I would recommend visiting an Ayurvedic practitioner, or if you still need a little more convincing before investing financially, do some more reading or take a free course such as Yoga Veda’s Sister Science Course. Give it a try, it really could be life changing.


Author: Laura McEgan

Image: Courtesy of Renata Sze

Editor: Callie Rushton

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