As a South Asian myself, I feel like I should have a better grasp on Ayurveda but to be honest I’ve barely scratched the surface. Which is why I turned to Sachi Doctor, an Ayurvedic practitioner, yoga instructor, and tea maker at Elemental Alchemy. She and I were introduced by a mutual friend in the C&G Girl Gang and it’s been so wonderful learning more about these ancient practices from her.
Without further ado, I will let Sachi take over!
“Have you ever wondered what actually accounts for differences in people? Why some people are hyperactive and fast-moving, while others are more methodical and unhurried? Why some people can eat a five-course meal with ease, while others can barely finish a salad without feeling digestive distress? Why some people seem naturally joyous while others are pensive? Genetics offers some insight, but what about these particular characteristics and idiosyncrasies that make every person unique?
Thousands of years ago in India, rishis (wise seers or sages) wondered the same thing. They retreated to the mountains for years on end to gain insights into human nature, and it’s through their insights that we received the Vedas—the original source of yoga. In addition to sparing us lifetimes of fasting to gain such wisdom, these sages also provided a system of natural healing to help us live our fullest, most vibrant lives. Translated from Sanskrit as “the wisdom of life” or “the knowledge of longevity”, Ayurveda (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge) is a time-tested science that recognizes that just as we all have a unique fingerprint, we each have a particular pattern of energy—an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics—which comprises our mind-body constitution or makeup.
This is what makes Ayurveda different from modern medical system. In viewing individuals as complex, unique being with specific needs, Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to individual health, believing that all aspects of life contribute to balance (or imbalance) including nutrition, lifestyle, seasons, past experiences and long-term tendencies. Thus, restoring health begins with understanding our unique mind-body type — the blueprint that outlines the innate tendencies built into our systems.
The Ayurvedic term for this body map is prakriti, and it represents our truest nature established at conception. Ayurveda teaches us that when our mind-body abides by this outline, we experience health and ease in our entire system. But like we just established, everything we do, see, eat and experience impacts our prakriti. What Ayurveda does, then, is help us identify what this blueprint looks like — what and where are tendencies, strengthens, and weakness are — and provides language to better understand these idiosyncrasies, and therefore, heps us to better know ourselves. Specifically, Ayurveda provides suggestions for how to establish and sustain mind-body health given our unique composition. These guidelines included nearly everything one can think of: diet, yoga, meditation, herbal formulas, self-care practices… like I said, it’s an all encompassing system!
When you are new to this philosophy, the whole thing can feel overwhelming and taking on too many suggestions at once, however well intended, can be frustrating. This is one of the reason’s why it’s best to explore your particular dosha and its nuances with an Ayurvedic practitioner. In the meantime, I want to offer a few general principles that apply to everyone, regardless of your prakriti. Establishing consistency with even one of these suggestions can lead to incredibly shifts. Like with yoga, regular practice and patience is much more important than how much you do!
Four Ayurvedic Guidelines to Restore Balance:
Nourish Yourself with Good Food: It’s a simple rule. Try to eat foods made by Mother Nature and not Monsanto (aka. non-GMO, packaged, imitation) as much as possible. The foods we eat create our tissues and feed our entire mind-body. Next time you grocery shop think of your skin, hair and heart!
Keep All The Moving Parts Moving: Transformation and change is constant in the body. Physical exercise and movement improves circulation, aids in detoxification and helps to cultivate a feeling of lightness and stability. It also helps that daily exercise is one of the most powerful anti-aging activities that connects your heart and brain.
Regulate Your Senses: Don’t let your senses take you for a wild ride. According to Ayurveda sensory overuses/abuse is the first stage to create any imbalance and disease. It creates mental fatigue and makes you more prone to make unconscious decisions. Regulating sensory cravings creates stability, which is most important for making life-nourishing choices. A daily practice of meditation goes a long way to this end.
Listen In: To make choices that keep you in alignment with your natural rhythms, tune in to your body which is always expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. Whereas the mind lives in the past and the future, the body resides in the now and never doubts itself. Begin to trust it and you will find balance a less complicated state to maintain.”