4 easy Ayurvedic practices that will change your daily life
A 5000-year-old science, we see elements of Ayurveda in so much of today’s mainstream wellness advice. If you have 20 minutes, you can incorporate these practices into your everyday life and transform it for the better.
Ayurveda may be something you think is unfamiliar to you, but if you have a regular yoga practice you are already (perhaps unknowingly) engaging in – and feeling the benefits of Ayurvedic medicine. Here, Dr Taruna Yadav, B.A.M.S. (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery) from Sydney’s Ayurvedic Wellness Centre shares a few simple things you can incorporate into your life for more 2019 balance in this 2020 world.
But first, what is Ayurveda, again?
Ayurveda is a centuries-old science and health practice, which has been India’s traditional and natural system of medicine for over 5000 years. “The word Ayurveda is derived from a combination of two words Ayur (meaning “life”) and Veda (meaning “science”). So, Ayurveda is the science or knowledge of life and longevity,” says Dr.Yadav.
The Ayurvedic approach to medicine focuses more on prevention (and not getting sick through living well), though it also treats illnesses too.
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“The theory behind Ayurveda is that every disease in the human body is due to the imbalances and toxins which are created in the mind and body through improper eating habits and unhealthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Yadav.
So, it addresses diet through foods that are optimal for your dosha (body type) but also through holistic lifestyle practices that are folded into daily life.
And, while many Ayurvedic practices have been “Westernised”, it’s also important to acknowledge that these are also about connecting to the spiritual – as well as the physical – body.
So before you just add them to your morning to-do list consider honouring the traditions from which they stem, and turning them into daily rituals.
Waking up early
We know how much of a struggle it can be, especially after a big week/ one too many cocktails, but it’s really one of the simplest things you can adopt in your everyday.
Dr. Yadav says, “according to Ayurveda, waking up as the sun rises and going to bed early as the sun sets means abiding with the law of nature and this daily routine is necessary to bring radical changes to mind and body.”
Many Ayurvedic practices focus on routine as a means of bringing balance to one’s constitution, and really this one makes a lot of sense. Do you ever notice just how many hours are in a day, or how long a weekend can be when you actually wake up early?
Dr. Yadav also adds that this practice helps you keep in touch with nature, which brings peace of mind and brings freshness to the senses. If that’s not enough to convince you, this study found that late-night dwellers are actually prone to more negative thoughts, and another study in the UK revealed that early risers tend to have lower body mass indexes as well as being happier and healthier.
If you already practice yoga, you’d be familiar with the breathing technique pranayama. For the uninitiated, “prana” means “life force” or energy and “yama” means control, so its simplest explanation is that it’s a controlled, simple breathing technique. But, of course, the emphasis and the impact is in the control – the control of the energy and the consciousness you’re bringing to it.
“Pranayama are breathing exercises that can be done by everyone as they’re simple breathing techniques best done in the morning after having shower, and if possible, along with doing Yoga,” Dr. Yadav says.
“The principal benefit is that it calms the nervous system and help in preventing stress.”
In fact, this study looked into the benefits of Pranayama and found that in addition to the reduction of stress and anxiety it also improves autonomic functions (which regulates things like digestion and heart rate).
You may have seen a tongue scraper floating around your local health food store (and *may* have even thought it was some kind of torture device).
But, as Dr. Yadav explains, “tongue scraping in the morning after you brush your teeth is a traditional method of cleaning the coating of the tongue that improves oral hygiene by removing bacteria and improving the sense of taste.”
She also notes that it removes toxins from the body, and this study also saw that it reduced plaque (in a control group of children). Dr. Yadav recommends adding a copper tongue scraper to your daily teeth routine as these are the safest and the best.
Starting the day with warm water
One of the main goals of Ayurvedic medicine is to remove toxins from the body, which Dr. Yadav says is the reason Ayurvedic doctors promote drinking warm water.
“Waking up early and drinking warm water helps in cleaning the toxins accumulated from the undigested part of the food from the previous night and also helps in improving the appetite,” she says.
Incorporating all of this into your life will take less than 20 minutes of your days, tops. And, if you’re thinking that you just don’t have the time, well that 20 minutes will appear if you subscribe to point one… just saying.