Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that means “the science of life and longevity.” The aim is to maintain the health of a healthy person and to heal any diseases or illnesses that arise (1). Ayurveda looks at the whole person and overall health when looking at the deeper roots of illness and disease. We don’t look at the symptoms for answers. We look at how a person is functioning in all aspects of their life. From its ancient roots in Vedic culture, Ayurveda is a science of self-healing that encompasses diet and nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, rest, and medicinal herbs. Ayurveda is a way of healing and a lifestyle change to being in touch with your body, your food, and the present moment. Every aspect of your life contributes to your overall health. Poor health rarely only has one cause. Some aspects of our life we can dictate like our diet and exercise and some we cannot change such as the weather and seasons (2). Thus, we must use what we can control to help reduce or eliminate the impacts of what we cannot. In our lives today, many of us have become very imbalanced with low energy, health issues, chronic stress, and more. Ayurveda suggests beginning with your diet and slow, steady changes to affect your overall health.
Ten habits to avoid:
Eating without real hunger
Drinking fruit juice or excess water or no water during meals
Drinking cold or iced water any time
Eating when emotionally distraught or constipated.
Eating too early or too late in the evening
Eating too many heavy foods (like fried foods) and too many light foods (like chips).
Snacking between meals, except for fruits.
Eating poor food combinations like dairy and grains together.
LifestyleLifestyle takes its own pathway in each person’s life. One-size does not fit all and how people live their lives has great diversity. However, often we see people discussing a lack of energy or never feeling truly rested. Life can be stressful and tiresome and often we can prefer the “shut off” button when things get too hard. We can tune out to what we are eating, where we are driving, or how much we need to be sleeping. In the ups and downs of life we all sometimes act against our true wisdom of how we should take care of ourselves. In Ayurveda, “crimes against wisdom” translates in Sanskrit to Prajnaparadha. It is a central concept to diet and lifestyle because it is understood that doing things we know we shouldn’t is the cause of most disease and other sufferings. We must listen to our intuition and what our bodies need. Crimes against wisdom can look like waking up too early or too late, irregular food habits, watching TV to zone out, or suppression of natural urges, such as holding in flatulence. Regularity in sleeping, waking, eating, and eliminated helps bring discipline and balance into our lives for overall health. Listen to your body and your needs. If you’re drained from a long day and tired, perhaps instead of watching TV, try to do some restorative yoga and drink herbal tea to relax your mind before bed. If you’re stressed, instead of checking your email and going on social media, try to do some breathing exercises such as Nadi Shodhana to relax your mind. These helpful activities can look different for a variety of people, but the important part is checking in with what is working and not working for you. We suggests checking in with yourself moment-to-moment to see what you need and how to best support your life.
(1) Lad, Vasant. “The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies.” Three Rivers Press, New York, New York; 1998. 254-255
(2) Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda, Vol. 1: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda. The Ayurvedic Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico; 2011. 282-283.