Let’s talk Ayurveda!
The two main questions or comments I get from people is what in the heck is Ayurveda (I’ve never even heard of it!) and how it sounds too difficult to incorporate into their lives. I can completely understand, there are days my perfectionist brain looks at all the things I “should” be doing to live a healthier life, and I get overwhelmed and grab a cookie.
Simply put, Ayurveda is a group of books written a long time ago describing ways that humans can ease their imbalances. The scholars will say you should read it in the original Sanskrit. The idealists will say there is a “perfect” way to live. I’m… neither of those. There are so many ways that you can include self-care, self-love, and balance into everyday life without it feeling overwhelming.
The beautiful thing about Ayurveda? It knows that you are a unique individual living a unique reality. I love the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and there is a line when the Pirates are arguing about the Moral Code and the response is “they are really like guidelines.” That is how people should view Ayurveda, there are guidelines designed to help balance you while still fitting into your reality and making you feel supported by the Universe.
The following thirty-one suggestions are ways you can play with what feels good for you. It’s a way to boost your intuition or listening to your body’s needs. Just note that any one of these items could lead you down a rabbit hole of fun exploration.
For example: “Sound & Vibration.” In the Vedic texts there are singing meditations, chanting, vedic vibrations (drumming, and other tones), and instrumental music (like Gandharva). The texts dive in deep when and how to enjoy these rhythmic moments.
This is what I mean by the “rabbit hole of exploration”
Do you prefer vocal singing or chanting?
Do you like singing them yourself or listening to them?
Is there a time of day you prefer silence vs. sound?
What about non-Vedic recommendations? I personally love meditating to EDM (electronic dance music)!
Which ones do you not enjoy (for example, I actually can’t stand Gandharva music! And guess what? That’s ok!)
The point is, there is no perfect way to doing Ayurveda and you should explore what makes you feel good.
If you try out any of the recommendations below and want to share it on social media use #Vedasaurus, #31DaysofAyurveda #AyurvedaMadeEasy
HERBAL TEA: Grab yourself a cup of herbal tea. Ayurveda loves herbal tea it is a wonderful way to get different herbs into the body with a soothing (typically) warm beverage. Drinking tea is a full body experience. When you get your tea try to feel it through every sense! Taste is easy, but what about the other senses. The warmth of the adorable mug in your hand, the sound as you stir in the honey, the aroma of the blend as you hold it under your nose right before taking a sip.
ICE ISN’T NICE: When you drink cold drinks or place ice in your drink that nice warmed up digestive system freezes up. This means the body struggles with digesting as efficiently and throws off the entire body. I hear the argument in your mind. Even on the super-hot days? Yes, even then. In Ayurveda normally opposites detract, meaning a hot environment does better with a cooling beverage. But when we drink ice, this can be too much in the opposite direction! So generally speaking, ice isn’t nice just avoid it.
AROMA THERAPY: Go smell something nice! Seriously, at the most surface level it is about good smells going through the blood brain barrier in your nose up to your brain. Certain smells will help stimulate your brain (peppermint and citrus) and other smells will soothe and calm your brain (chamomile and lavender). You can get fancy blends, aroma diffusers, etc. Or you can just go walk in nature and smell the proverbial cookies, I mean roses.
SLEEP: Sleep Hygiene sounds like the worst emo band name in the world, right? But for real, having a good consistent wake and bedtime routine will do wonders for your mental health, your glowing skin, and all other ailments. Routines can include face washing, teeth brushing, mantra and affirmations, foot rubs, good smells (hey there aroma therapy) or a good night cup of tea.
DAILY MASSAGE: Yep indeed, Ayurveda LOVES daily massage as a self-care routine. No, it doesn’t mean that you should hire an in-house masseuse (although that would be just lovely). But taking the time every morning to rub oil on your body in a lovingly way helps to get your blood and lymphatics moving. If you are like me and don’t like oil, there are dry rub alternatives you can explore!
MEDITATION: There are so many ways to meditate. Most of us probably hear the word “Meditation” and think of an old man Monk sitting quietly on a mountain top somewhere. What if I told you that meditation can be a nature walk, singing loudly with your headphones on, or even through orgasm!? Yep, there are so many different meditation practices out there. I challenge you to find a new one to try today.
POOP!: What comes out your bum (or doesn’t come out) tells an Ayurvedist a whole world of information. How often you poop, when you poop, what kind of shape is it, and how much strain there is gives a snapshot for what is going on throughout the body. Start with a poo journal – notice when you have a bowel movement and describe it!
GHEE: Mhmmm…. Clarified Butter (I hope you read that in Homer Simpson’s voice!) Ghee is so yummy to cook with and to use as a topical oil. Ghee makes everything better and is quite simple to make at home. Did you know you can use it topically too? My favorite approach is to use it for my tired eyes after a day at the computer.
MINDFUL EATING: We eat every day, but when was the last time you ate and just savored the food. I love the scene in Disney’s Ratatouille when the food critic finally tastes the Ratatouille. He is transported, every bite is ecstasy. You just know he is living for every single sensation of that bite. He isn’t worried about his to-do list or concerned about anything else. Ayurveda wants us to enjoy every meal just like that, all senses focused on our food. I triple dog dare you to try one meal like this!
YOGA: Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences. You may be thinking that you don’t have a fancy mat nor are you super bendy. That’s ok! Yoga is about allowing the body to relax and ease away from pain so that the mind can relax. Sometimes that means snuggling up in a blanket burrito and leaving the worries of the day behind. And sometimes that means bending yourself into a pretzel so that you can’t think of anything else.
FACE MASK: In Ayurveda a topical herbal paste is called a Lepa. In America if you put that on your face it’s considered a spa day. The beautiful thing is this is easy to make at home, smells wonderful, and soothes the skin. Lepas can be used all over the body for other ailments including sprains, sore muscles, even detoxification.
FOOD AS MEDICINE: Herbs and Spices can be great for all sorts of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. Did you know you can cook with them too!? Upset stomach? Sure you could have some ginger in a capsule … or could I interest you in some ginger candy? Feeling low on energy? Why not make some dark chocolate bliss bites with ashwagandha in them?
SOCIAL SUPPORT: Who you surround yourself with can make a difference. Think of how much sadder Eeyore would have been in the 100 Acre Wood without Pooh Bear, Tigger, and the gang? Eeyore’s friends loved and accepted him for what he was going through and were there to support him. Today, touch in with a friend who you have seen in a while.
JOURNALING: Emotions get bottled up in our bodies. Negative emotions like stress and anger can cause tension and muscle pain. Positive emotions can also cause tension and pain in the body too (or if you are like me, jumping up and down spastically results in bruises). Regardless emotions need somewhere to go, and journaling about them help process and release them. Nothing fancy about it, pick up a writing utensil and something to write on and let the emotions spill out.
READING SPIRITUAL LITERATURE: Taking time to read about what spirituality can help ground you. This could be something like the poetry of Rumi, religious texts like the Bible, or even just something fun and goofy like “Three Little Dinosaurs Visit the Ayurvedist” (yes, yes, that’s my shameless plug for my own book). Reading about things that are bigger than yourself can be a meditative approach and add perspective to your day-to-day.
DON’T SUPPRESS NATURE URGES: “Shout, Shout, Let it All Out” Tears for Fears may claim they were singing about political protesting. But I think they were tapped into their Ayurvedic side. Our bodies are very efficient machines, but like all machines there can be byproducts. This can come in the form of farts, poo, pee, burps, sweat, and vomit. It can also mean things like don’t hold back the tears or if you are horny do something about it. So today, release what your body needs you to release when it needs you to release.
PRANAYAMA: This is a fancy Sanskrit word that means breathing. Yogis and meditators have been using breathwork for years. Hell, so has every pregnant woman I have seen on a sitcom! Breathing is a way the body directly communicates with the internal body and the external environment at the same time. Some styles of breath are designed to slow and ground the body, others can bring the body to sharper focus and ecstasy.
FULL MOON & ASTROLOGY: Jyotish or Astrology is a cosmic way to check into your everyday. You can go read some horoscopes or get your chart read, those are really valuable tools to learn about your patterns and habits at a bird’s eye view. If you aren’t comfortable with diving into the new age-y world of astrology, then pay attention to the lunar cycle. Every month see how you feel during a full moon vs. a new moon.
HERBAL STEAM: “Rubber ducky, you’re the one. You make bath time so much fun!” Herbal steams can be done in the bathtub; a nice full bath with some yummy herbs tossed inside. It’s like making a You Tea (get it? Because it’s you in a tea like setting? Oh never mind). But maybe you are like me and not fond of taking baths, then you can hold your face over the steam of a nice cup of tea, have a steamy shower, or soak your toesies.
SENSUAL SELF-CARE: We all have urges, and we already talked about how it is bad to suppress natural urges. Vajikarna is a branch of Ayurveda for Aphrodisiacal care. Most people search after it for impotency, low libido, or infertility. But this branch is about promoting sexual vitality as a way of health and wellness for individuals. So go light some candles, play some sensual music, and get that favorite battery-operated toy of yours.
GRATITUDE: In this day and age, we are so selfish and self-centered. When that comes to self-care that’s a good thing. But typically, it just means we forget to stop and be thankful. Gratitude causes us to slow down and focus on the good things in life, and not focus on the stressful things.
NASYA: Oil in the nose. Yep, to your Westerner’s ears this probably sounds odd. But think about those cold winter mornings and your nasal cavity is dry, crusty, and it hurts to breathe. Putting a little oil in the nose helps with that. Nasya is good year-round; it can help with allergies and headaches. Embrace your inner child, go stick something up your nose!
MARMA: Marma are energy points all over the body. If you are familiar with Acupuncture the acu-points are similar in nature and sometimes in location to Marma. In Ayurveda instead of needles, we use oils, topical herbal pastes, and massage to stimulate Marmani (the word for several Marma points). If you are new to Marma, give yourself a scalp massage. It feels great and activates several Marmani at once!
SOUND & VIBRATION: In the Vedic texts chanting, singing, or using musical instruments was a way to bring out vibes, man. This is a wonderful way to meditate and to allow the body to feel the soothing vibrations of dance and rhythm. In modern day, we sit far too much between desk jobs, commutes, and Netflix. Check out some Gandharva music on YouTube or grab a drum / rattle and just meditate to the rhythmic sounds.
HERBS & SPICES: We talked above about using Food as Medicine. I challenge you today to think about your favorite herb and/or spice. What is your favorite dish you have it in? Go online and research what that herb does for different symptoms in your body. I am guessing that your body LOVES something because it is what it needs.
VEDIC SOUNDS: This of this as Sound & Vibration part two. Sanskrit is a beautiful language that allows people to meditate to the sounds. They don’t have a direct correlation to the English language and that is the whole point to them. Think of it like “La La La” it just means general singing. Oum is a great one to play with. Its deep and booming throughout the body. I will always have a special place in my heart for So Hum. It is to represent breathing. But the first time I saw it the handwriting looked like so ham and it made me want a sandwich.
INNER CHILD PLAY: You have been reading (and hopefully trying out) so many things on this list! Remember this should all be about play, none of it should feel like a chore or a to-do list. Ayurveda is about living your health in a harmonious way. So today I challenge you to go out and do something silly. Your adult brain shouldn’t be in charge all of the time.
SPEND TIME IN NATURE: Go outside! Be free of the screens! Hug a tree, smell a plant, lay in the sun! Or simply go for a walk and get some ice cream. Spending time outdoors has been shown to reduce stress and increase happiness.
SEASONAL EATING: Our bodies are in sync with the same rhythms as the seasons you live in. This is a great excuse to go your local Farmer’s Market. This particular one includes so many of the topics we have covered so far: Spending time outdoors, food as medicine and even astrology. You are following the seasonal cycle and finding yummy nourishment!
LISTENING: To the more advanced Ayurvedic persons reading this, listening could be feeling your pulse and hearing what your body needs to tell you. Nadi Pariksha is listening to the vibrations of your pulse and listening to the health of your tissues and organs. For those of you who aren’t that advanced, that’s ok. Pay attention today to the signs your body is telling you. Hunger, thirst, and natural urges are all signals you should be receiving (remember! Don’t suppress natural urges!) Other signals you may receive: sitting still for too long, eye strain from too much screen time, or maybe you don’t need to finish everything on your plate despite what your mother told you growing up.
ARISHTA: Last but not least we get to Aristha or Herbalized Wine. Don’t you love that synchronicity? We started with Herbal Tea and ended with Herbal Wine. They are very similar, take some herbs steep them in the liquid (in this case it is wine) and enjoy. For those of you out there who don’t like wine or shouldn’t be drinking, have a second herbal tea day.