If you looked, you would probably find the word “Ayurveda” on almost every single page of my website. It’s part of my way of living and something I speak about a lot, but what exactly is it? Today I’m going to give a detailed overview of what Ayurveda really is and 5 ways it can change your life — it definitely changed mine.
WTF is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest systems of medicine, developed over 5,000 years ago in India (yes, really), that is still widely practiced today. In Sanskrit, ayur means “life” and veda means “knowledge,” so the word literally translates to “knowledge of life.” The main principle of Ayurveda is that everything in life is connected. With a unique emphasis on total wellness, the practices of Ayurveda work to harmonize our internal and external worlds while promoting good health (of body, mind, and spirit) through balance.
One thing that makes Ayurved so unique is that every aspect is entirely individualized – there is no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise, diet, mental health, or skincare. Ayurveda is based on an individual’s constitution, or dosha, and that dosha determines what practices are right for each individual.
Each dosha is based on the 5 elements – earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Ayurveda groups these five elements into three basic types of energy and functional principles that are present in everybody and everything – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Once you know how these elements live in the body, you are able to better understand how to improve your lifestyle.
Here are the health and wellness tips and rituals I’ve taken from Ayurveda that have really stuck with me and have changed my life:
1. “HEALTHY” MEANS SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR EVERYBODY.
Like I mentioned before, everything in Ayurveda is individualized – it teaches us to eat, exercise, and live our life differently depending on our dosha or what dosha is imbalanced. And as we live our lives our doshas will move in and out of balance, affecting our health, energy levels, and general mood. What works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another – and we shouldn’t expect it to! We should listen to our bodies and try to engage in various practices that help align our doshas (which will be unbalanced at various times and for various reasons for every person!).
2. SCRAPE YOUR TONGUE!
I know, I know, this one sounds a little weird, but hear me out: Ayurveda teaches that we can learn a lot from our tongues. The state of our tongues—the shape, color, coating or texture—indicates the state of our overall health. Tongue scraping is a complementary practice to your regular brushing and flossing routine. Toxins that accumulate due to weak metabolism or digestive agni also show up on the surface of the tongue. If not cleared out, they are absorbed back in the system and can lead to diseases and weak immunity. So we scrape our tongue to prevent ourselves from re-ingesting them.
3. DON’T JUST FOCUS ON WHAT YOU EAT, BUT HOW.
According to Ayurveda, how we eat, not what, is the most important aspect—and the one we tend to pay the least attention to. Often, eating comes secondary to something else, like watching TV or trying to send out emails during our lunch break. When we’re not focused on the act of eating, our bodies don’t digest our food properly. In order to do that, we need to eat slowly, chew well, and pay attention to what we’re eating—the flavors, the textures, the scents. Not only does this improve our body’s ability to digest and retain nutrients, but it allows us to appreciate and enjoy food more.
4. ROUTINES ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND.
While it’s nearly impossible to follow a strict schedule these days (I swear time is lost now that we’re just indoors all the time), trying to maintain some sort of routine is key to living a balanced life. A daily routine invites health, vitality, and a sense of clarity into our lives. And if you want to take that a step further, the Ayurvedic daily routine, known as Dinacharya, suggests planning your routine (when you wake up, exercise, work, and go to sleep) in accordance with the natural doshic times of day so we can achieve alignment with mother nature and sync our circadian rhythms and energetic potential.
Ayurveda is FULL of self-care rituals. Some of the more common Ayurvedic self-care rituals include meditation, oil pulling, yoga, and Self massage, known as “abhyanga.” But it can also include just doing the things that bring you the most joy and comfort and listening to your own needs first.
Want to learn more about Ayurveda and what other practices it holds that can help better your life? I invite you to take my Ayurveda 101 class, where you’ll decipher the doshas, the 5 elements, routines, Ayurvedic lifestyle, yoga practices, chakras, and dive deep into the relationship between Ayurveda and yoga. Click here to sign up.