Intro To Ayurveda & A Taste Of Using It In The Real World

“Our bodies are synchronistic displays of our spirits. Our physical health is a reflection of our internal state of being. The way we eat impacts the way we feel”. - Deepak Choprah

You have been seeing me mention things like “Ayurveda inspired dish” or “Ayurvedic lifestyle,” particularly around the Yinner offering I added in this year (Yin + Dinner ;). And so, with this being a large part of my personal yoga practice and a practice that I aim to share more of in the future, I sense the need to educate you in detail what all this means. I had the intention of keeping this share as basic as possible, while giving you more of a grasp on the topic and how you can incorporate it into your life, but you may have learned by now that brevity is not a strength of mine! Regardless, I think you’ll find the topic to be very intuitive, using elementary level thinking skills. That said, it does require pausing and reflecting on how it all makes sense for your (or a loved one’s) body-mind type (otherwise known as dosha) needs.

 

For starters, Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga, originating more than 5K years ago as the traditional Hindu system of medicine, practiced by the monks who also started the yoga “movement,” which also has transformed through the ages as most of us know well. All of it was for the purpose of reaching Samadhi, or bliss, ultimate inner piece, fully connecting to The Higher Power(s). They recognized that, when regularly practicing dietary restriction, herbal treatments, yoga, and keeping a strict routine, they were not affected by outside conditions, and thus able to transcend past the body, hearing the messages from above.

To break it down: Ayur = life and Veda = science or knowledge.

If you combine them, it is defined as “the science or knowledge of life”. And it has been considered a “living science” since the beginning, one that has transformed in practice and moved around the world for centuries to match the needs of the individuals it serves. There is a phrase known as bio-individuality, referring to everything in existence having its own unique doshic (or mind-body type) combinations. What it boils down to is the fact that there is no one size fits all for humans. Plus, our needs change annually, seasonally, and throughout the day, all of which make self-awareness vital to our physical and emotional well-being.

Ayurveda observes all areas of health (physical, emotional, mental), thus considering our systems as interconnected and therefore treats them in harmony. Thus, the practice of Ayurveda provides a sense in which to better understand the self through reflection and mindfulness.

There is a common phrase in Ayurveda: “Like attracts like and opposites balance”. It looks at energy through the 5 elements of nature (earth, water, fire, air, ether), looking to create a sense of balance amongst them. For example, take the element of fire – it naturally wants more fire (and air) to grow bigger. But if you put some earth (dirt) or water on that fire, it’ll “balance out” by cooling down (probably not what fire wants). We can create this same balance within our own bodies when experiencing too much fire (or too much of the other elements) through the food we eat, routines the build, the people we interact with, and the work that fills our days.

We all learned in elementary science that energy comes through digestion – whether it be the food animals digest or the sun that plants photosynthesize. At the simplest view, nutrients give the body energy to grow and fight off stressors. At the same token, a lack of nutrients (ie. fake and/or unbalancing foods for us or too little sunlight for plants), will deplete the bodies’ energy, preventing the growth and turning stressors into disease. This said, Ayurveda teaches that “You are what you eat”…we need a strong digestive system to break down and detox all that we take in. The renowned present-day educator of natural healing, Deepak Choprah, says further:

“Our bodies are synchronistic displays of our spirits. Our physical health is a reflection of our internal state of being. The way we eat impacts the way we feel”.

 

 

 

Ayurveda considers everything we take in (via mouth, eyes, ears, skin, and even thoughts) as moving through our digestive system and impacting our energy. Digestion is what turns food into nutrients, thoughts into actions, and emotions into self-awareness. It is the ignition within us, and when it’s weak, everything else is also nonfunctional, from our skin to hormones to mood.

 

 

Many people think that they can’t practice Ayurveda because of X, Y, Z (excuses) related to living in the modern, western world. The good news is that, BECAUSE IT’S A LIVING SCIENCE AND IT TAKES INTO ACCOUNT BIO-INDIVIDUALITY, the practice of it CAN still serve us today in ALL PARTS OF THE WORLD. 

Note me playing in the water. This is a part of my Ayurvedic practice, going to water for emotional support and cooling when my fire gets out of control (we’re human, it happens). 

 

 

 

And we practice it in our monthly Yinner (Yin & Dinner), hosted at my house! Here are the things that we do which align with the Ayurvedic practice:

Consuming herbs in the form of a tea, with the intention of aiding in restful energy at the end of the day.

 

 

Eating Kitchari, a “creamy, porridge-like blend [that] has been a centerpiece in Ayurvedic cuisine for centuries—it has been used to nourish the sick and the healthy, babies and the elderly, for regular meals or during special periods of detox…simple yet very soothing and nourishing and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner” (Divya Alter, what to eat for how you feel).

 

 

 

Eating in a peaceful environment and state of being, surrounded by kind people and in the post-yin relaxation, which helps the body to readily digest the nutrients.

Some of us eat on the floor (not required, I provide table and floor seating), keeping the body relaxed and in a slightly bent position to also aid in digestion.

Reflective journaling, allowing us to express what stays hidden within. I send people to Banyan Botanicals to take their Ayurvedic Dosha Quiz (haven’t even provided the doshas here – that’s a bit beyond “introduction” in written form – though we cover it all in my Intro to Ayurveda workshops!). They published an amazing article about journaling from the Ayurvedic perspective, explaining that:

expressing ourselves through writing can be a key to unlocking some of the psychological congestion that builds up throughout our days and provide a space for mental and emotional healing to take place…Just like the body needs to digest and eliminate the food we ingest, the mind needs to process what we take in through our senses. Whether it’s body-food or mind-food, if it stays in the system too long, it will result in feelings of indigestion (or ama): brain fog, fatigue, sluggishness, poor digestion, body aches, even illness, sadness, anxiousness, and more”.

If you do read the article, you may not be surprised to know that my journals show me as vata to a T!

 

I’ll leave it at this for now, and will share more at a later time on how you can realistically begin incorporating Ayurveda into your life. In the meantime, start practicing the above and see how your life begins to change for the better!

And if you’re in the Charleston area, please join our Yinner events! Click this link to be taken to the upcoming dates (as well as other ways that you can work with me).

I’d love to hear from you as to whether this was helpful information, and specifically what you’d like to learn about when I share more on the topic – please reach out!

Wishing for you a sense of balance and an abundance of blessings!

Special Shoutouts!
Having personally studied, practiced, and taught Ayurveda for 8 years, I share all of this information confidently. And I have a number of teachers to thank for my learnings. In addition to the sources I quoted above, I also have to give a special shout out to Lillian Jacobs (the Ayurvedic coach I turn to when in need of a reset) and Sahara Rose’s book “Eat, Feel, Fresh”, which was gifted to me back in 2016 by a good friend in Asheville.
And I must of course thank the photographer, Madison Krupp for taking all the photos shown in this post, from Lulu’s Healer’s Retreat in Bacalar, Mexico and the Yinner events hosted at my home.
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“Our bodies are synchronistic displays of our spirits. Our physical health is a reflection of our internal state of being. The way we eat impacts the way we feel”. - Deepak Choprah

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