Ayurvedic practices unlike many of the fad diets marketed today are not just another trend. Ayurvedic medicine commonly shortened to Ayurveda is one of the oldest holistic living practices dating as far back as 5000 years ago, originating from the Indian subcontinent but has since spread all over the world and is now practiced in almost every country around the globe.
The Ayurveda movement is based on a simple formula of finding balance across all aspects of your life; body, mind and spirit. It takes into account the importance of catering to your body’s most essential requirements while keeping us in tune with our immediate environment. While conventional medicines are targeted at treating illnesses, Ayurveda uses ancient practices to cleanse and heal the body. The traditional Hindu system of medicine is essentially the holistic practice of prevention is better than cure.
Even if you are not quite versed with Ayurvedic practices, it is very likely you may already be practicing some of them regularly. Tumeric lattes? Warm lemon flavoured water early in the morning? Yoga? Meditation? If any of those sound familiar, then you know more about Ayurveda than you think. Here are some basic Ayurvedic practices you need to embrace to derive the benefits of good health and longevity;
1. Wake up early
While staying in bed all morning feels awesome, if you are going to practice Ayurveda, you must transition into being a morning person. The practice encourages waking up before sunrise, ideally by about 90 minutes. This is based on the belief that the morning is when the brain is most active and meditation would be most effective. Ayurveda strives to align our body's rhythm with the sun's cycle, so waking up just as the sun rises would be an ideal way to start your day.
2. Drink warm water
The importance of water to the body can not be overstated, and that’s fairly common knowledge. What you may not be aware of is the importance of drinking warm water rather than drinking cold water. Start off your day with a glass of warm water, you can add lemon, honey or ginger for flavour. Warm water expedites digestion and corrects a number of other digestive anomalies in the body. Lemon, honey and ginger all have antibacterial properties and will help to detoxify your system and flush out toxins.
3. Practice meditation
Mediation includes all activities from breath exercises to yoga. Breathing deeply with forceful exhalations is a fundamental tool in meditation and it has a lot of benefits. Deep diaphragmatic breathing increases oxygen intake, massages the internal organs, stimulates metabolism and promotes digestive functions. Meditation brings a true sense of peace to the mind and is known to improve overall well being of the body.
4. Maintain oral hygiene
Ayurveda has a dynamic duo of oral hygiene; tongue scraping and oil pulling. Tongue scraping involves the use of a tongue scraper to scrape off accumulated toxic residue from the tongue. In oil pulling, all you have to do is take a sip of coconut oil, gargle, and swirl it around your mouth with a bit of vigour before spitting it out. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that pull out toxins from the mouth. Additionally a clean mouth free of plaque allows for better clarity of flavour in foods.
5. Self massage
Using high quality warm organic oils, preferably coconut or sesame, you can try a self massage right at home. Apply the oil all over the body using circular movements around the joints and long strokes on the longer body parts. Pay extra attention to areas with nerve endings like the hands, feet and scalp. Massages have been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, stimulate the lymphatic system and increase muscle tone. Plus it’s a relaxing self-care practice that leaves skin hydrated and soft afterwards.
6. Lunch like a king
With Ayurveda lunch is your largest meal of the day. This is based on the belief that our bodily digestive functions peak at noon when the sun also happens to be at its highest point in the sky. Sticking to an Ayurvedic diet helps to sync our bodies with the circadian rhythm, a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of all living beings, including plants and animals. A proper functioning digestive system is one of the main goals of an Ayurveda practice.
7. Take your time to eat
As much as Ayurveda encourages us to eat well-balanced and healthy meals, it also teaches that what you eat is as important as how you eat. It’s recommended to eat in silence, take your time to eat and chew your food properly, and avoid rushing meals. Take deep breaths between bites and give your body ample time to process what you’re eating. It is also important that you do not eat when you are stressed or preoccupied with negative emotions. If you are feeling overly emotional, chances are you are going to make poor diet choices.
8. Exercise regularly
Indulging in some form of physical exercise is highly recommended. Intense over the top sweat sessions are not required but moderate exercises like jogging, walking etc. is recommended. The important thing is to be regular and committed to whatever exercise regimen suits you. Exercising increases your stamina, improves blood circulation, builds muscle tone and will keep you healthy overall.
An Ayurveda practice stresses the importance of recognizing your bio individuality when it comes to holistic living, there's no one-fits-all approach to Ayurveda. If you are new to the game and you are still looking for ways to fine tune your daily routine to better suit your new lifestyle, the practices above will go a long way in improving your overall health and well being