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Celebrate the New Year with Ayurveda

Updated: Apr 21


Are you curious about Ayurveda?


Ayurveda, commonly known as a sister science to yoga, is a five thousand year old holistic approach to health. The name “Ayurveda” is derived from two words in Sanskrit, “ayuh” meaning “life” or “longevity” and “veda” meaning “science” or “sacred knowledge.” Ayurveda’s definition therefore roughly translates as “the science of longevity” or “the sacred knowledge of life.” In more simple terms, Ayurveda is a system for living your best life, the healthiest version of YOU, by developing an awareness of how you feel and what you need physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. 



Ayurveda and the Seasons


My personal interest in Ayurveda developed about a decade ago during my yoga teacher training and since then it has become an increasing part of how I nourish myself, my family and my friends. I love Ayurveda’s connection to the natural world and its attunement to both the seasonal and daily rhythms in our individual lives and in the world around us. Studying Ayurveda reminds me to spend time outside and to pay attention and shift the way I spend my days depending on the changes in nature. Ayurveda explains that when we pay attention to these rhythms we can change our routines to better support our health. And our overall health benefits most when we have a consistent daily routine even as the seasons change.


By attuning to the rhythms and cycles of nature we can approach each day with habits that nourish us. For example, as we move from the warmth of summer into the coolness of fall we can enjoy warm soups and stews with root vegetables, swap out raw greens and salads for steamed or baked vegetables, and keep ourselves warm and hydrated with herbal teas. As the weather cools and wind increases we might shift from practicing power/intense vinyasa yoga to a more slow yin style. Additionally, a grounding self massage (abhyanga) before our shower or bath using sesame oil is excellent for improving lymphatic drainage to manage skin conditions, improve sleep and boost the immune system! As winter approaches, we continue nourishing ourselves with warm moist foods and we add even more warmth with cozy hats and scarves or wearing an extra pair of socks to bed. 





Ayurvedic Toolbox


The vast toolbox of Ayurveda includes resources for creating daily and seasonal routines and rituals that make us feel our best. Ayurveda encourages creating awareness around our nourishment, our stressors, and our lifestyle choices and asks, “what shifts can I make to feel better in my emotional and physical body?” Finding the answer may take some time in quiet reflection - meditation or through journaling - or it may be speaking to you loud and clear with a major health challenge. In either case, Ayurveda provides a framework in which to  increase our awareness of which tools to use and when to use them in order to heal. Ayurveda’s tools are preventive and many are both simple and manageable.


We adjust and adapt tools to suit our individual constitutions but all of us can use these tools to help us answer the questions “how do I feel?” and “what do I need?”  


In terms of nutrition, some more obvious tools include eating at consistent mealtimes, avoiding distractions like screens and phones, sitting down while eating and remembering to pause, chew and breathe between bites. In addition, we can think of nutrition not only as food and drink but also include what we take in from our surroundings - the environment, our relationships, our habits. Ask yourself, how are these parts of my life feeding me? Is what I am taking in nourishing me or depleting me? If it is nourishing, then relax and enjoy! If not, ask how could things be better? Improvements could include taking time to yourself to be outside or letting that next call go to voicemail while you enjoy a few deep breaths. Maybe you forgo that next not-so-critical social event to stay home and take a warm epsom salt bath or snuggle on the sofa with your loved one (pets included!). Or perhaps you need to make a more significant and challenging change and may need additional support.


Ayurvedic Tools I Use

Establishing a consistent routine is one way I am answering the question: what do I need to feel my best? 


This is how I incorporate Ayurvedic principles at the beginning of my day (prior to breakfast):

Wake up at the same time each day (6:30am)

Scrape my tongue

Brush my teeth

Wash and oil my face

Drink warm water with lemon or sip herbal tea

Meditate, stretch, and journal


Some Simple Tools in the Ayurvedic Toolbox No Matter the Season

Monitor screen time, especially at night

Have a consistent bedtime and waking time everyday

Eat your largest meal at lunch

Eat an early light dinner

Eat seasonally (also organic, unprocessed, local)

Avoid snacking

Take good care of your liver 

Hydrate with warm water and herbal teas throughout the day

Take a walk outside

Pause periodically and take several deep breaths 

Meditate, journal and rest

Exercise/move your body

Lower stress


If you are seeking to establish better habits, remember to keep it simple and manageable. Be present with what you are doing, how you are breathing, what you are feeling, your thoughts, sensations, senses, sounds etc. Remember to regularly ask yourself, “what do I need right now?” and then actually take some time to listen! Ayurveda encourages slowing down and paying attention to what comes up for you then reaching for your toolbox to shift towards better health.




Resources:


Siva Mohan Ayurveda for Yoga Teachers and Students













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