HI all, are you feeling a bit sluggish? Are you looking for natural ways that don’t cost the earth to improve your health? Have a read of these suggestions that may help get you on track to a happier healthier you!
Eating according to the seasons with Ayurveda
Ayurveda is all about timing. Seasonal timing and daily timing. I have learnt through my studies that our digestive tract is at its peak at around midday, so it serves us to schedule our biggest meal at lunch time. Ayurveda suggests that we have lighter meals in the morning and in the evenings as it is more harmonious with the body’s natural digestive process.
Eating a diet that consists of whole seasonal foods, loads of seasonal vegetables, high-water content and high fibre foods that are low in toxins is encouraged. (it’s not rocket science after all!) I pretty much already eat this way, but I have recently incorporated a drink of warm water with fresh lemon (add a drop of honey if you have a sweet tooth) first thing in the morning. This simple little drink hydrates my body upon waking and it also provides detoxing properties for the digestive tract. I feel cleaner on the inside when I drink this instead of my normal cup of black tea. It has now become a must for me each morning. I also love the fresh tangy taste as it automatically wakes up my body from the inside. Give it a go, simple but effective!
How should our food taste?
According to Ayurveda, each meal should contain all six flavours: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent. The dominance of the flavours will be based on our predominant dosha makeup (see my previous blog). Being mainly a vata-predominant person myself, I favour the sour and salty tastes.
We can obtain all these flavours by Including various spices in one’s meals, which not only adds flavour and aroma but also brings therapeutic value to any meal. Certain spices help boost natural immunity and most of them can rev up our digestion so our bodies are able to absorb and assimilate the nutrients from the foods we eat. Here’s a little visual I’ve created of some ‘Super spices’ and their benefits.
I have practiced oil pulling on and off for a few years, so this is not new to me.
I have started to do this again but much more religiously. It is believed to be one of the best ways to remove bacteria and promote healthy teeth and gums and to naturally whiten your teeth. Much cheaper and healthier than using chemical whitening too!)
The Ayurveda term for this is Gandusha or Kavala. So, basically, simply swish a suitable oil around in your mouth for between 10 and 20 minutes a day, preferable upon rising. A suitable oil could be sesame or coconut.
Benefits of oil pulling include:
Treats bad breath
Helps heal bleeding gums
Boosts the immune system
Strengthens gums and jaws
Removes bacteria and promotes healthy teeth and gums
So how to do it? Check out my four simple steps below:
Jihwa Prakshalana, or the Ayurvedic self-care ritual known as tongue scraping, is an an oral hygiene practice that removes bacteria, food debris, fungi, toxins, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue. Almost half of our oral bacteria, both good and bad, live on and in the deep crevices of our tongue!
When we sleep, our digestive system remains awake, removing toxins from our body by depositing them onto the surface of our tongue. By scraping the tongue upon waking we can remove these toxins thereby avoiding them from being reabsorbed into the body which could lead to digestive issues and possibly a compromised immune system.
5 reasons you should scrape your tongue:
1. To control and avoid Halitosis (or bad breath)
2. To enjoy experiencing the flavours of your food.
By scraping you are unblocking your taste buds.
3. To boost your immunity by removing toxins from the tongue to avoid re-absorption into the body.
4. Provides better overall dental health. Tongue scraping removes bacteria as we know which promotes better tooth and gum health.
5. Improves your digestive health.
How to scrape your tongue
This Ayurvedic daily routine for maintaining oral health should be done on a regular basis, in the morning upon rising and on an empty stomach. A tongue scraper is a long, thin, flat piece of metal that is bent in a "U" shape. I recommend using a copper one. My beautiful friend Jema Lee from 'Wellsome' stocks these. Check out her facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/wellsome.jemalee/
Standing in front of a mirror, you scrape your tongue by simply holding the two ends of the scraper in both hands, sticking out your tongue, and placing the scraper as far back on your tongue as possible. With firm but gentle pressure, scrape the surface of your tongue in one long stroke. Rinse the scraper and repeat until your tongue feels clean and is free of coating (usually 5 to 10 times)
Abhyanga is the practice of self-massage using a warm oil that is suitable for your dosha type. It is believed that a daily Abhyanga practice restores the balance of the doshas’ and enhances well-being and longevity.
Some Benefits of Abhyanga:
· Nourishes the entire body
· Decreases the effects of aging
· Good for muscle tone
· Increases circulation
· Stimulates the internal organs of the body
· Assists in elimination of impurities from the body
· Moves the lymph, aiding in detoxification
· Calms the nerves
· Benefits sleep—better, deeper sleep
· Stimulates hair growth and is good for the scalp
· Softens skin
How to do it and what oils to use.
Massage your body with love and patience for 15-20 minutes. Here are the recommendations for frequency and oil type, based on the doshas:
4 - 5 times a week using sesame or almond oil.
3 - 4 times a week using a coconut or sunflower oil.
1-2 times a week using safflower oil.
Good for all Three Doshas
Yoga and meditation
Yoga, meditation and Ayurveda go hand in hand. Ayurveda translates in English to “knowledge of life” and closely relates to yoga. Ayurveda is an ancient science of wellness for one’s physical and mental health. Yoga and meditation are also ancient practices that one can use to enhance one’s physical wellbeing as well as calming and freeing one’s minds.
It is no secret at all, particularly if you have been attending a regular yoga class or you have a regular yoga practice, that yoga has many physical benefits such as improved flexibility, strength and posture. However, the many psychological benefits of yoga are often overlooked as people tend to start a yoga practice purely for the physical benefits. They soon begin to realise that it also has many benefits psychologically as well such as:
stress reduction, less anxiety/depression, improved concentration, inner peace and calm, more positive outlook to name a few.
There is a quote which I love by Timothy McCall, MD. He is the author of Yoga and Medicine.
“Change your posture and you change the way you breathe. Change your breathing and you change your nervous system. This is one of the great lessons of yoga: Everything is connected”
There are many diverse types of yoga in the world today. To list them would take me ages. May I suggest, if you are new to yoga to try a few different classes and find a class/teacher that resonates with you. This may take a while but once you do, you won’t look back. Allow them to teach you how to become healthier in your body and mind and to guide you also on a journey of self-discovery. Find a class that also incorporates breath awareness and some meditation as well to set you on the right track for your home practice.
Try to incorporate some of the above rituals into your daily routine and reap the benefits of these beautiful, ancient practices. Doing so will only enhance your life in a positive way. Self-love and self-care is of the utmost importance, particularly in this busy crazy world we now all live in.
Being healthy and happy is a God given right. We just need to find that balance between work, rest and play and by including a few (or all) of the above, scientifically proven practices into your life-style, it will help you stay healthy, focused, productive, creative and happy!