If you’ve always wanted to embrace Ayurveda but weren’t sure where to start, read on.
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest systems of medicine, and in a health-focused climate it’s not hard to see why those chasing a ‘holistic approach’ to wellbeing might want to get involved. Practitioners credit the practice with everything from being able to treat conditions like asthma and arthritis to digestive problems, eczema, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stress.
So what exactly is Ayurveda and how does it work?
Holistic health coach and yoga teacher Lee Holmes says Ayurveda has three main objectives; to prevent disease, encourage wellbeing and promote longevity.
“These objectives are reached through four healing modalities: eating nourishing food, engaging in cleansing and detoxification processes to purify the body, administering warm oil massages to eliminate energetic blockages, and practicing yoga poses and meditation to create physical and emotional transformations,” she explains.
If it sounds like hard work, the good news is you don’t need an ‘all or nothing’ approach. Here are some easy ways you can get started with Ayurveda.
Get to know your ‘dosha’
One of the main principles of Ayurveda is understanding your dosha – thought to be different energies that govern how our bodies work as well as extending to our individual temperament and physical characteristics.
“There are three doshas; vata, pitta and kapha and they’re made up of the five elements – air, water, fire, earth and ether – that constitute our nature,” Holmes explains.
“When doshas are out of whack, they can cause physical and mental disorders – so finding your dominant dosha and keeping it in balance is the key to maintaining your overall health.”
You can work with an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine your dominant dosha – which is influenced by your environment, diet, emotional state and level of physical activity. Then, you can choose foods, activities and treatments that work towards restoring balance and promoting wellbeing within your energetic profile.
Become a master of meditation (or at least, learn how)
Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime and you don’t have to be sitting cross-legged and chanting to do it. The mind plays a vital role in Ayurvedic medicine, with meditation techniques used to connect and calm the mind and body.
Learning to meditate and making it a priority may help you switch off, manage stress and promote heightened energy and awareness. It can be as simple as taking the time to sit back, relax and breathe. When was the last time you took a few moments to do that?
To try it, find a quiet spot where you won’t be easily distracted, and sit or lie in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and focus your attention on one thing, like your breathing, the sounds you hear around you or a specific object. Start with one or two minutes a day, increasing time gradually over weeks or months.
This is particularly important in winter when we can tend to feel a little glum. While seasonal affective disorder doesn’t affect Australians as much as other countries who experience less light as a result of shorter days, depressive symptoms can be more likely to occur during the winter months, so it’s worth bearing in mind.
Practice mindful eating
We’re all fairly accustomed to eating on the run (not to mention in front of the TV), but one Ayurvedic tool to master is mindfulness – especially when it comes to food. Mindless eating is thought to contribute to obesity and the health issues that come with it, so being mindful in how we buy, prepare, serve and consume our food is key.
Holmes says it’s simply about appreciating what you taste.
“Sit down with your food and enjoy it,” she says. “Be mindful of where it came from, enjoy the different colours on your plate, actually feel the different textures in your mouth, smell your food, and if you can, enjoy it with your friends in a relaxing environment.”
There’s nothing quite like a warm, spicy meal in winter. And aside from pleasing your tastebuds and flavouring food, their high antioxidant content can help protect against disease, too. ‘Kitchari’ is an ancient Indian dish made of basmati rice, lentils, spices and vegetables, and it’s claimed to help balance those integral doshas.
Listen to your body
To bring the body into balance, we’re often being told to listen to what it is telling us. So… how exactly do we do that?
“By considering all the elements that make up your life, Ayurveda uncovers the root cause of illness and helps you understand yourself more fully,” Holmes explains.
“By listening to your body and becoming aware of how to repair it, you can become your own best teacher and the architect of how you feel at any given moment.”
Why not try…Subtle Energies
If you’re looking for a way to introduce yourself to Ayurveda, Crown Spa offers a range of treatments and journeys from Subtle Energies, a natural skincare and wellness line founded on authentic Ayurveda principles.