What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a mind-body health system developed by sages in India thousands of years ago. Ayur means life and Veda means science or knowledge. Ayurveda offers a body of wisdom to help people stay healthy and vibrant.
Guiding principles are that the mind and body are inextricably connected and nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind through balancing our awareness with our body. Freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body.
Meditation for example creates a state of restful awareness and is one of the most powerful tools used to achieve this state of balance. Ayurveda offers many other practices for expanding self-awareness and achieving a state of balance.
Along with some suggestions for applying them, here are some of the most important aspects of the Ayurvedic approach
Knowledge of your unique mind-body type and specific needs that derive from it allows you to make optimal choices about diet, exercise and all other aspects of your lifestyle.
Good yoga courses like those held at the Shala Bali cover Ayurvedic mind-body types and show you how to identify your own individual type.
Our food must be nourishing to create a healthy body and mind. And that comes from consuming variety of fresh food properly prepared and eaten with awareness.
We know we are getting a balanced diet when we include the 6 Ayurvedic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent) in each meal. That may not always be achievable but focus on them will ensure that you feel satisfied and the urge to snack or overeat will be less.
Food as near as possible to the colours of the rainbow, especially deep blue, purple, red, green or orange promotes a long and happy life.
You won't be surprised to know that Ayurveda emphasises the need for good sleep so that our body repairs and rejuvenates itself. A lack of restful sleep disrupts the body’s innate balance, weakens our immune system, and speeds up the aging process. . We need between 6 and 8 hours of restful sleep every night. If you feel energetic and vibrant when you wake up, you had a night of restful sleep. If you feel tired and unenthusiastic, you haven’t had restful sleep.
You can make choices that keep you in harmony with your inner intelligence and rhythms by tuning into your body's messages. Your body expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When you choose a certain behaviour your body will tell you if you should proceed or not by sending a signal of comfort and eagerness or alternatively a signal of physical or emotional distress. The body resides in the now and never doubts itself. It knows the truth and will guide you towards the most evolutionary choices.
Living in tune with nature
In Ayurveda living in tune with nature means having healthy desires that match with what you actually need. In this state of balance you only want what actually nutures you. No junk food, lack of sleep or exercise or other compulsive behaviours. Imbalance can become disorder and then a disease leading to stress and neglect.
Ayurveda teaches good health is dependent on how well we deal with nutritional, emotional and sensory information we ingest.
If our digestive energy known as agni (fire), is robust we develop well and eliminate waste efficiently and produce the source of our vitality, Ojas, that is the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength and immunity. If our Agni is weakened digestion is incomplete and leads to accumulation of toxic residue known as Ama. Ama buildup leads to obstructions in energy flow, information and nourishment and is the basis of all disease.
Here are some Ayurvedic practices to strengthen your digestive fire
Always sit down to eat (not in front of your computer or TV or while driving).
Eat in a settled atmosphere and not when you’re upset.
Don’t eat until you’re definitely hungry.
Dine at a moderate pace. Don’t gulp down your food or eat too slowly.
Minimize raw foods, which are much harder to digest than cooked ones.
Include all six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent) at each meal.
Drink hot water with ginger throughout the day.
Practice some form of moderate exercise on a regular basis.
Perform a daily oil massage with herbalized oil that balances your mind-body type.
Spend time in the quiet of meditation every day.
Use detoxifying herbs such as triphala, ashwagandha, guggulu, brahmi, ginger, turmeric and neem
Take it Easy
With all the changes you might need to make you will be pleased to hear the Ayurvedic approach is to align with nature not forcing things to go your way. The Law of Least Effort. Nature doesn't try to do things, it functions with ease. Birds don't try to fly, they just fly. Grass doesn't try to grow, it just grows.
You will expend the least effort when your actions are motivated by love and that should be your guide.
This information is taken from the Chopra Centre website in California.