For the past couple of years, I have been studying Ayurveda which is Sanskrit for life knowledge. Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems incorporating correct diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing. It not only includes the study of health and disease but metaphysical aspects such as expanding consciousness and nature. Ayurveda states that the purpose of life is to know or realize the Creator, both within and without, and to express this Divinity in one’s daily life. This is a sentence that I live by since I believe that my full potential is ever-expanding and limitless. My darling meditation teacher once quoted Richard Bach and said the following to me, “Are you for your limitations? And sure enough, their yours.” Ayurveda preaches the idea that God is reflected in every human being as the sky is reflected in water, therefore, we are limitless.
The body itself is limitless and profoundly intricate. The single cells in our bodies have intelligence and a unique function. As I mentioned in my high vibrational eating blog, many people are not aware of how large an impact their diet has on their state of being. Your physiological health is the base of your consciousness. Hormones and neurochemicals are responsible for your moods and overall health, which can be positively or negatively impacted by what you consume. Ayurveda states that it is imperative to eat holistic plants that fuel your body and mind.
Unlike western medicine, Ayurveda is considered a “living science” because it has a balance of modern developments and ancient knowledge. Instead of treating a symptom and prescribing a pill, Ayurveda doctors look at the symptom and treat the entire body holistically. There are three main body types called doshas that exist: vāta, pitta, and kapha. Vāta is energy in movement, pitta is the energy of transformation, and kapha is the energy of structure. Every dosha is composed of all five earth elements, ether, air, fire, water, and earth, but two elements are predominant in each dosha (Lad). To break this down, the dosha vāta is someone who has the elements ether & air and they tend to have bodies that are light, small-framed, dry, cold, rough, mobile, and empty-minded (think aery and fast-paced). Pitta is someone who has a mixture of the elements fire & water. Pittas are known to be hot, sharp, sour, and red (think rosacea and overheating). Kapha individuals have the elements water & earth and tend to be heavy, slow, cool, oily, dense, soft, sticky, and hard (think lazy and sluggish).
In order to identify your dosha, you have to think about how you were as a child. Each person’s combination of the three doshas is determined by genetics, diet, lifestyle, and emotions of the parents at the time of conception. Were you heavy-set and slow? Thin-framed and air-headed? Anxious and heated? Look back at the examples in the last paragraph and question your youth. Perhaps you were mostly one of these doshas or a combination of two. The combination of the three doshas forms a person’s “constitution” at conception, and this is called Prakriti. For example, my Prakriti is vāta-pitta.
Ayurvedic herbs I supplement with every day: moringa and neem. Also pictured: cranberry hibiscus, moujean, katuk.
Since I have a vāta-pitta constitution, I focus on eating foods that are sweet, bitter, and cooling to balance my pitta (fire). As mentioned above, I have been implementing cooling herbs such as fennel, coriander, cilantro, and mint. Although Ayurveda incorporates ghee into the pitta dosha plan, I refrain and stick to incorporating coconut oil as an amazing vegan alternative. I have been avoiding foods like cayenne, chili, hot sauce, and horseradish since they create too much internal fire. Although I love the taste of spicy foods, avoiding them has made me feel less anxiety. It took me by surprise that hot spicy foods actually make me nervous and increase my heart rate, but this is because they increase my pitta to a high rate which aggravates my Agni (internal fire). Agni is responsible for digestion and metabolic processes (Lad). Vāta-pitta constitutions don’t do well with long hours of fasting, so I eat steadily throughout the day which keeps my hormones regulated. This simple steady eating-habit decreases my anxiety significantly. I notice that when I go 3-4 hours without eating I become vulnerable and aggressive!
You can grab a tongue scraper in our Zero-Waste Hygiene Survival Kit here!
As far as dinacharya (daily activities), my typical day starts before the sun rises. I walk outside and complete around 5 minutes of pranayama breathing while walking or standing barefoot on the grass. I drink 16 oz of lukewarm water with aloe, which promotes digestion. I then tongue scrape which helps clean toxins and bacteria from the tongue (bye-bye bad breath!) Tongue scraping also helps eliminate undigested food particles from the mouth! I follow this by oil pulling for 20 minutes. “Kavala” is the ancient dental technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil (I use coconut) on an empty stomach for 20 minutes. I have noticed my teeth whitening as well as improved digestion! I implement garshana before showers which has softened my skin as well as brightened up the tones. I’ve been using a dry brush every morning while brushing in circular strokes towards the heart, furthering detoxification benefits. Garshana stimulates skin and the lymphatic system by enhancing blood circulation to release toxins.
For anyone looking to get into Ayurveda, I reccomend identifying your dosha and diving into research from there! There are many free quizes online that can help give you a general idea of what your body-type may be. I have been implementing Ayurveda into my lifestyle for years and it has changed my life in countless ways. #ThrivingOnPlants
Lad, Dr. Vasant. Ayurveda: Textbook of Fundamental Principles. Ayurvedic Press.