At the start of a new year we are all prone to making renewed commitments to ourselves for living a better and healthy life. For those of us who have studied Ayurveda or began a journey in living an Ayurvedic lifestyle we find ourselves quite often re-evaluating our lives and purpose. Ayurveda compliments the ebbs and flows that we experience bring us back into balance.
Here is a list of 10 suggestions for radical change this year:
Write it down
In Ayurveda, handwriting is an ancient beneficial practice. Just like our body digests and eliminates the food we ingest, our mind equally is processing everything that we take in through our senses. Just like in digestion if food stays in our system too long, it will result in ama: fatigue, sluggishness, aches, pains and even illness.
By writing down your thoughts by hand you transfer and allow yourself to release whatever might be clogging up your mind. The very act will bring your mind and body to the present. Just as we want to keep our physical digestion, or agni, strong we allow our mind to become active in a healthy way.
Studies have found the very act of writing has calming effects on the brain, lowering blood pressure and increasing alertness. These effects in themselves promote a cascade of healing processes to flow through the body.
Journalling your thoughts can complement your existing daily routine (dincharya); however, if you are already writing regularly it can help deepen your practice. When you clear a time for yourself you create a sacred space. As an idea you could prepare a space for your journalling, lighting a Natural Serenity Candle (tridoshic) and having a soothing Ayurvedic herbal tea according to body type (dosha) or Ayurvedic Golden Milk. Creating an atmosphere that honours the moment will not only accomplish as part of your practice but be something you actually look forward to.
There is no right or wrong way to go about this routine as it is more important that you clear as space and time for yourself. You will be surprised how clearer your mind will be and how easier life will become just because of this beneficial practice.
Pranayama - Breathe to Enhance Your Energy
Have you noticed that hour to hour your cravings, mood, strength, mental and physical energy levels change? Sometime you can even feel like you are on a roller coaster with rising peaks and crashing energy levels. These are clear signs of imbalance which over time can cause “dis-ease’.
In Ayurveda, we can sustain harmony by creating adapting practices to our lives. Yogic breathing (Pranayama) is a helpful practice to bring immediate balance to a moment. And by creating a few practices within your day you can achieve remarkable changes in your life.
Stimulate Prana, the vital life force.
The vital life force, Prana, enters our bodies through the act of breathing. To lubricate and nourish the nasal passages with Anu Nasya Oil will not only support the health of the sinus, nose, throat and head but will bring clarity to perception, stimulating your memory and enhance cerebral circulation.
Dr Deepa Apte advices 2 drops of Anu Nasya Oil every morning as part of your daily self care routine. This practice can also be enhanced by use of a neti pot for irrigation of the sinuses.
15 minutes of Walking
A part of Vedic living and philosophy, has been the tradition of walking in bare feet while visiting temples and holy places. This was an act to become present with mother earth and to the very moment. Our feet are very sensitive and they are predominately responsible for our actual journey in life physically.
In Dr. Apte’s article Barefoot Walking Ayurveda she shares how the elements are divided into our five toes:
Big toe – space
Second toe – air
Third toe – fire
Fourth toe – water
Fifth toe – earth
When we consciously walk bare foot we absorb from the earth these five elements. The energies from the earth are absorbed and distributed through an energy channel or Nadi that connects the big toe to the eyes and brain. Therefore when we walk bare foot will find ourselves more alert and active.
A good practice though is just to make conscious decisions to walk. Clear a space each day for 15 minutes to walk with or without shoes. Create extra opportunities to walk by taking the stairs instead of elevators and trade parking close to shopping for walking a few seconds further. The very act is taking time out for yourself and you will be amazed at the time saved and the release of anxiety of having to find somewhere close to park.
The very act of walking and increasing respiration will provide oxygen and blood to all of your organs.
As a bonus, find time to take a short walk after every meal. You will be surprised how your energy levels will increase just by taking time to walk.
Dr. Apte advises to fast one whole day every two weeks. Fasting gives your body a break from working so hard. The act of fasting also is a personal intention to care for yourself. You are setting out time where you let go of desires and become aware of your body.
Here are a few benefits of fasting:
Fasting helps balance your hormones
Aids in fat loss
Lowers blood pressure
Balances sugar levels
Helps boost the immune system
Helps to regenerate and repair the tissues in the body
Fasting reduces inflammation
Again, self care is a conscious act to help promote physical and mental wellbeing. Fasting is an easy practice that takes little effort. Choose a day that works for you every two weeks or float the day according to what works best. Remember it is the action as much as the intention.
Make the intention of taking time out to socialise with friends. Also place yourself in situations that you meet new people helping to create an even better life community.
Finding like-minded individuals that will encourage healthy relationships and lifestyles can dramatically change your outlook in life. You will find as well when you take time for yourself with those outside of your immediate family you better appreciate those closest to you.
It is very important as well to realise time for yourself is not being selfish but rather without socialising you easily can become self-less. Being around others helps you see your whole self and more than just your roles within your life that you play. You are more than you think sometimes and socialising with friends will help you realise all you are and capable of being. Just like a child, return to play and activities that bring you joy. You will find your vitality and youthfulness there.
Tulsi the Sacred Plant
Tulsi also known as Holy Basil is a revered herb since ancient times to promote a healthy body, mind and spirit. In Western medicine it is considered a valued adaptogen with anti-ageing properties. It is also widely known for combating of negative effects of stress and stabilising blood sugar levels while promoting longevity.
Along with the above benefits Tulsi also has amazing properties to boost the immune system, treat cough, antiviral and antibacterial. The health promoting list is endless.
Tulsi tea, capsules or even whole organic herbal powder made into a decoction can be added as part of a daily regimen. Ayurveda Pura’s Pure Tulsi Tea has a pleasing unique clove-like semi-sweet minty spiciness that cleanses the palette leaving one feeling in a euphoric state.
One simple herb with countless benefits is a definite addition to add to your to-do list.
Ghee - Companion to Good Health
Organic Butter Ghee or known as clarified butter contains the healing benefits of butter without the impurities. This immune boosting, inflammation fighter enhances digestion and improves absorption of vital nutrients.
Ghee is excellent for replacing unhealthy cooking fats as it maintains the integrity of phytonutrients, contains Omega-3 fatty acids and in some cases well tolerated by those that are considered lactose intolerant. The mouth-watering flavour is due to the caramelisation of milk solids and will enhance flavours to any dish.
Dr. Apté advises a half teaspoon in warm water on an empty stomach every morning.
Kansa Vati in Ayurveda literally means a Bronze Bowl or cup. Bronze or Kansa is known as a healing metals in Ayurveda and used in Ayurveda Kansa Vati foot massages. The treatment provided by a therapist or used personally can improve lymphatic circulation, blood circulation, prevent and treat migraines and headaches. There are many cardiovascular benefits including reducing stress in the body.
Add a Kansa Bowl massage to the feet with warmed up ghee. The combination helps to relieve any cardio vascular problems, nervous system ailments, and excess Doshas in the body.
The Sanskrit word sneha translates both as “oil” and “love”. The very act of adding oil to the body through massage is adding love to your life. Self massage or by a therapist provides time for you to apply care and attention to the body. Beyond the countless benefits of massage this very act results in stress reduction.
Dr. Apte advises adding Exfoliating Body Polish to a dosha specific Ayurvedic massage oil before a warm bath or shower. This self-care cleansing and detoxifying treatment will leave your skin smooth and help the oils penetrate. Remember that when we are applying oil we are giving love to ourselves.
By incorporating these Ayurvedic rituals into your Dincharya (daily routine), you’ll find yourself alert, rejuvenated and experiencing inner & outer wellbeing. Why not begin today?