by: Meera Watts
Ayurveda, known as the “Sister Science” to yoga, is an ancient science that is holistic in nature. Having been around for over 5,000 years, the main focus of Ayurveda is to focus on your life in-between the emotional and physical self. One of the main beliefs is that the food we eat effects our overall wellbeing, and can make us elated or miserable. Essentially, we can be full of energy and vitality, or lethargic and run-down based on what we put into our bodies. This is known as the Sattvic approach.
First, Sattvic translates to ‘pure essence’ in Sanskrit. Sattvic is a diet based on foods recommended within Ayurveda, and is one of the purest diets you can adopt and supports you in being your best self. This diet is designed to be holistic in nature, meaning it nurtures your mind, body, and soul, and therefore is a great support for your yoga and meditation practice.
Understanding that food is the fuel for our body, an additional benefit that coincides with this ancient practice is the clarity of the mind it gives us. Ayurvedic practitioners often report they can concentrate better, sleep better and feel less anxious overall. Here are 10 benefits of Ayurvedic Medicine and the affects you'll see on a daily basis.
Ayurveda encourages you to find the love in yourself instead of comparing yourself to other people. It wants you to understand that you are truly unique, and is designed so that you approach your individual life in the most tailored way possible. It encourages you to discover your individual needs, as well as grow, heal, and reflect on your life.
Ayurveda consists of three main body types and personality characteristics, otherwise known as doshas. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and while most people tend to fit one particular dosha, oftentimes people can be a mixture of two, with one dosha being more prominent. See below to see what dosha you are, via Mind Body Green!
Ayurveda is all about understanding that healthy is your natural state. If you and your environment are in balance, that’s considered optimum health, and the opposite goes for being unbalanced. For example, if you feel anxious or are suffering from health issues like constipation or generally lethargic-ness, it is simply a matter of being out of balance. Imbalances are not an overnight occurrence, so you do have time to prevent or slow down the process of imbalance. When you know what’s causing you to feel out of whack, you can simply refer to the suggested foods to eat or avoid according to your dosha to start the process of coming back to your proper state of balance.
A principle of Ayurveda is that we are a part of nature. Nature has five elements which include:
These elements, their behavior, and the interaction they have in your life is a big deal in the practice of Ayurveda. For example, Air will show up up in your body and mind as high energy and forgetfulness. Fire will manifest in your body and mind as inflammation, digestion, and anger. Earth relates to your bones, your stubbornness towards something and loyalty towards others. Once you recognize what elements show up most prominently for you, you can assess what dosha you are and can then work towards optimum balance.
In this day and age, we often need to recalibrate our mental and physical settings. As ever-changing beings, it’s important to reflect and clear out what isn’t working for you and your life. This makes room for new things. Cleansing the system with a Ayurvedic-based diet, and cleansing the mind with things like meditation and yoga on a regular basis will allow you to recalibrate with greater ease, and greater access inner peace.
Ayurveda reminds you that you’re much deeper than your skin. There is an essence to you, and an energy that can light up the world. Ayurveda will continue to remind you that you are more than just muscle and bones, but you are also a spirit which embodies the elements. While the health benefits will positively impact your physical self, it also brings together your mind, body, and soul and keeps balance within it all. You will begin to really see and feel that healing begins from within, starting with the food you put in your body.
Research shows that Ayurveda can in fact help on a cellular level. It has been indicated that Ayurveda has the potential to actually regenerate cells, again showing that we have the power to begin healing ourselves of certain ailments simply by the way we treat our bodies. While studies are still being conducted, the scientific community is hopeful!
The founder of the Maharishi Ayurvedic practice states that there are three different kinds of toxins. The most common is ama, which is the waste-product that builds up in the digestive tract that stems from eating too much of the wrong food. If not cleared up, it will build up over time and will begin to circulate through your body, causing major feelings of imbalance. Various practices within Ayurveda, like eating your largest meal at lunchtime, when the sun is at it’s highest will prevent these toxins from further developing.
As you begin to eat for your dosha, your digestive system will strengthen. Certain foods will activate your digestive system during the right times of the day, causing a decrease of toxic build up in your digestive tract. This prevents you from feeling lethargic, causing you to have higher levels on energy! Having optimal digestion also helps you to keep a healthy weight and feel less agitated.
To put it simply, food influences how you feel. If your digestive system isn’t firing, you feel uncomfortable and tired, which can manifest into negative feelings and ultimately affect how you show up in life. Through incorporating a diet that is specifically tailored to your needs, you can begin to find clarity in your body and mind. Again, the holistic approach of Ayurveda means it also positively affects your mindfulness practices, helping reduce stress overall.
The Ayurveda diet is very clear about what you should eat based on your dosha. The guidelines on what to eat and when are simple to follow. For those that like structure, this no-nonsense guide is easy to follow and leaves little room to deviate. It may be an adjustment at first, but think of it as eating the foods you were always meant to eat.
If you are looking to bring lasting change into your diet, health or even your life, Ayurveda might be just the thing! With strong guidelines that have been proven tried and true for centuries, consider it an all encompassing wellness plan designed to bring true transformation to every aspect of your life.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala, India and Bali, Indonesia.