Curious about ayurveda but don’t know where to start? I get it. Much of ayurveda conflicts with our consumer culture which is based on fanning the flames of our likes and dislikes in an effort to turn them into “needs” so we will, well, consume. Ayurveda is about focusing on doing what is beneficial for you in the long run. Yep—adulting in a good way. You already do yoga, so you are predisposed to: a) conduct small experiments, and b) be radical in your self care. It’s ok to move in the direction of a few of these and see what works for you. Here are seven ways you can start today.
1) Self massage with warm sesame oil, aka abhyanga. How? Warm up a small BPA-free bottle of organic sesame oil (cold-pressed, without chemicals added, and a few drops of essential oil if you wish) by placing it in a cup of hot water, then massage the warmed oil on your skin and your scalp before you shower. Why? In addition to being nourishing, the warmth and touch can help bring you back into balance after the vagaries of daily life. Smaller starts work better for you? Put oil on your feet, then socks, before bed.
2) Six flavors in every meal. How? Compose your meals using food and condiments that represent each taste: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent, and pungent. Why? In addition to being sensuous and satisfying, anything that promotes good digestion is a big deal in ayurveda. If composing feels larger than your current energy, put together a spice mix. Find a recipe, buy your whole spices, then grind them up in a blender or coffee grinder. Store in glass containers in a cool, dry cupboard. Once you’ve made your own spice mix, you will wonder why you ever settled for ready made.
3) Sleep by 10 p.m., up by 6 a.m. Why? Obvious. Yes, your momma was right. And so was her momma.
4) Ideally, your meals are so satisfying that you have no need for a snack, but…if you do need one, snack on fruit by itself. Why? Fruit by itself delivers a slow, long burning energy. Give yourself true quality fuel. Speaking of,
5) More fresh, whole food, fewer leftovers. The life in food starts weakening as soon as it is harvested, so the more fresh your food is, the more life you are absorbing. Some practitioners say eat what you make within 24 hours, some 3 days. Move in the direction of. You deserve vibrant food.
6) More warm ______, less cold _______: more warm, cooked food, fewer raw foods and salads; more hot water, less ice water; more soup, fewer smoothies. Why? Increased bioavailability. (Salad of regional in-season vegetables during the summer is fine). And — do you already have an overabundance of warm and whole in your life? I didn’t think so. So be good to yourself in these simple ways.
7) More tea made with herbs and spices, less coffee. I know, I hear you. That’s why this one is last. But coffee artificially manipulates so many of your natural functions yet keeps you wanting more that it messes you up worse than a bad boyfriend. Move in the direction of by adding one black tea or chai instead of one cup of coffee in a day. Then add a cup of green tea. Then masala tea. As with spice mixes, once you make your own tea blends, you will wonder why you settled for anything less. And you may find that, over time you, are no longer a slave to a bean. Instead, you are bringing clear and bright warmth into yourself.
As you’ve no doubt gleaned, ayurveda’s lifestyle and diet practices pair well with yoga’s mind and body benefits. You may find that, over time, you want to learn and try more. Let us know!