I know the word Ayurveda is intimidating at first glance. But, Ayurvedic wisdom is something the entire family can understand, embrace and enjoy. By adding a few daily rituals into your usual mix you can start preventing sickness and disease today and stay healthy throughout the Fall.
Let’s kick this party off by getting doing a little meet and greet with Ayurveda.
The word, Ayurveda, translates to ‘the science of life’. It’s a holistic science over 5,000 years old that contains a profound body of knowledge used to understand ourselves within the laws of nature.
According to Ayurveda, each individual and all of nature is made up of a certain combination of the five fundamental elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These elements uniquely design each one of us, creating a distinct blueprint known as our Dosha.
There are 3 main Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. You can take a simple quiz or consult an ayurvedic practitioner to unveil your Dosha.
How Ayurveda Can Help You Stay Vibrantly Healthy this Fall
As much as we love Summertime and being out with our friends, going to parties and all the other outward flowing energy activities, Fall has moved in. It brings with it the promise of rain and cooler temperatures. Its rhythms remind us that it’s time to turn inside, ruminate and nourish that inner light.
When we can line up to naturally occurring rhythms, we’re less likely to get sick and develop disease.
Here are 5 simple and effective practices that can help you and your family line up to Fall’s rhythms:
1. Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. The acidic qualities of lemon encourage regularity, which is crucial in keeping your digestive track free of toxic build-up. Ayurveda likes to keep things moving through the channels of the body. Lemons also hold vitamins and minerals that help release toxins in the digestive tract. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into a cup of warm water.
2. Scrape your tongue. If you’ve never taken a peek at your tongue in the morning, check it out! Ayurveda teaches us that we can learn a lot about what’s going on in our bodies by simply noticing the characteristics of our tongue. In fact, it can inform us on how we want to start our day. A body with healthy organs and a clear digestive tract will show up pretty pink. A body with clogged organs or undigested food from the night before will show up with a layer of fuzz, film, the quivers, indentations from teeth, and/ or bumps (other than your taste buds). If your tongue has any of the latter qualities you know that there are toxins lingering in your body. To clear them out you can try drinking detoxifying juice, opt into a full on cleanse, or consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for an individualized plan. But first you want to scrape off these toxins from your tongue so you don’t re-ingest them into your system. Use a tongue scraper or the edge of a stainless steel spoon. You can find the tongue scrapers at most health food stores or online. Stainless steel ones are great because they don’t rust. Scrape the tongue gently, working from back to front. It will usually take between seven and 14 strokes to get it clean and clear (be sure not to scrape it raw though!).
3. Treat yourself to a green smoothie for breakfast. There a many different recipes for green smoothies out there, but Ayurveda encourages a seasonal diet and ingredients that balance out the qualities already occurring in nature. Since it’s fall, nature brings out the dry, rough, light, cold, subtle & mobile qualities of life. This means for optimal health we want to steer away from foods and activities that have these same qualities (the idea is that too much of a good thing leads to sickness and disease).
Here’s a green smoothie recipe to balance you out in the fall:
1 cup romaine lettuce
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp ginger root
1 tbsp goji berries
3 dates, pitted
2 tbsp almonds, soaked
3 cups water (use more or less, depending on desired thickness)
Put all ingredients into a blender and mix.
Add stevia for more sweetness or spice for more pep.
4. Add more sweet, sour and salty foods into your diet. Fall (vata season) carries with it dry, rough, light, cold, subtle & mobile qualities. This means that to maintain a balance in our system we want to steer away from foods that also hold these same qualities.One way we can achieve balance in the Fall is by eating foods that ground, moisten, nurture and warm the body. Sweet, sour and salty tastes are the ideal candidates for the job. Here are some examples of foods to include in your meals:
- fresh sweet fruits like mango, coconut, berries and peaches
- fresh sour fruits like cherries, plums, green grapes, lemon and limes
- sweet veggies like corn and peas
5. Give yourself an oil massage. It nourishes the skin, relaxes the nervous system, removes impurities from the plasma blood & feeds the inner tissues of the body.
In the same way that a machine needs greasing, the body loves to be oiled for sheer pleasure as well as to protect it against the ravages of the environment & time. Here’s a list of oil that are best for each Dosha:
- Vata: sesame oil, almond oil
- Pitta: coconut oil, olive oil
- Kapha: sunflower oil, grapeseed oil
note: always use organic and cold-pressed oils when rubbing them directly onto your skin
You’ll want to set yourself up in the bathroom. I usually get in the tub and fill it up with just a few inches of water (enough to keep me warm while I’m doing the massage). This prevents a mess from being made elsewhere in the house. Some people stand on a towel. Whatever works for you.
You’ll also want to gently heat the oil before starting. Here’s how:
- Put 1/8 – 1/4 cup of oil in a clear plastic squeeze bottle.
- Put bottle in a cup of very hot water.
- Let it sit for about 5 minutes or until warm.
Meanwhile, make sure you have a clean towel for drying off after your shower or bath, one that you don’t mind getting oily.
Ayurvedic massage is performed with the balls palms of the hands, as well as with the fingers. I’ll break it down for you:
- Use circular strokes over the joints and abdomen
- Use up-and-down strokes over the limbs
When finished, leave the oil on for 15-30 minutes and follow with a hot shower or bath. The hot water opens up the pours of the skin and brings the oil into the deeper tissues of the body (this is why oil trumps the use of lotion — lotion doesn’t nourish the deeper tissues, only the outer skin).