Aa combination of ayur (life) and veda (science), ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that means life knowledge. Many Westerners use this mind-body health system of Eastern tradition as a complementary or alternative medicine.
Drawing from the notion that everything is connected and that wellness depends on a balance between the mind, body and spirit, Ayurveda physicians look at a person’s constitution and life forces called doshas. There are three kinds — Vata (space and air), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (water and earth) — which influence how the body works. Each person has their own mix of the three, though one dosha tends to dominate. You can find out your dosha by clicking here. Ayurvedic practitioners customize treatment plans for individuals based on their dosha, emotional makeup, physical constitution and more, with a goal of finding balance in the body and removing any disruptive forces. They prescribe herbs, along with diet, exercise and lifestyle recommendations.
You can also employ Ayurveda practices into your healthy lifestyle by doing the following:
- Meditate to balance the body and mind.
- Try Pranayama breathing. This deep belly breathing may help improve digestion and massage your organs.
- Scrape your tongue clean each morning, as it is said to help remove toxins.
- Eat a colorful diet, and chew slowly and mindfully.
- Integrate all six tastes into your meals: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent.
- Include Ayurvedic spices like cayenne pepper, ginger and cinnamon.
- Drink warm water with ginger throughout the day, as ginger is said to help aid digestion.
- Exercise daily.
- Swish the mouth for 15 minutes with coconut oil to remove bacteria and toxins
- Dry-brush your skin to stimulate the lymph, making circular motions around the stomach and joints, and long sweeping strokes on arms and legs, always toward the heart. Shower afterward.
- Detox in a steam room to release impurities through your skin.
- Get at least seven hours of sleep per night to repair the body.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Spend time in nature.
As a complementary practice, Ayurveda is trending right now, appealing to everyone from millennials to baby boomers who are interested in longevity and improving quality of life. Some of these Eastern techniques are actually fairly simple tasks that are easy to incorporate into your regimen.
To your health!
Journalist Ann Wycoff has written about wellness, fitness, longevity, travel, spas, food and wine for the past 20 years for magazines like Shape, Fitness, Spa, Outside, Travel + Leisure, Coastal Living, Redbook, Modern Luxury, San Diego Magazine, Redbook, Marin Magazine and more. She lives in Encinitas, California.