Ayurvedic Principles to Improve Health
Oral traditions like Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have been traced from thousands of years. These ancestral modalities are becoming more and more popular, as people are realizing how working together with nature leads to remedies that are slower in action but way more efficient.
Ayurveda was born in India and recently have become one of the most well-known alternatives to allopathic medicine in many places around the world. This vast system of knowledge utilizes preventive practices to avoid health disorders. Even by making small changes in your diet and lifestyle following its principles can improve exponentially your overall health.
I have been studying and practicing Ayurveda in my own life for almost a decade. I am also a yoga teacher and ayurvedic consultant, currently working at East+West, which runs yoga teacher trainings in Bali. Later in the article, I’m going to share with you some amazing ways to go deeper into Ayurveda.
As a part of a universal ecosystem, it’s easier to understand our bodies functionality through observing our surroundings. There is an intimate connection between humans and our environment. As we work as a totality, it’s smart to assume that whatsoever happens outside, it’s most likely to happen inside too.
The main theory in Ayurveda is the concept that in creation there are three fundamental energies that form everything, and harmony exists when there is a balance between these three humours or doshas called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The principle of the Tridosa (three qualities) believes that there are specific times where those energies work better or predominate, and the more we adjust to this Ayurvedic clock, the easier it is to find health.
According to this natural clock, Ayurveda schedules specific activities throughout the day for best results on their performance. The art of being in harmony with our internal clock through our daily habits is called Dinacharya (in Sanskrit dina- day, acharya- regimen, routine).
Vata: Time for spiritual practices and introspectiveness. On the other side, afternoon time is great to socialize and be creative.
Kapha: Restful state where we must make it through the morning lethargy by exercising and eating light foods. Self-care practices are relaxation rituals are recommended at this time.
Pitta: With the sun at its peak and our metabolism burning up, this is the best time to have the largest meal of the day. We must try going to sleep before Pitta time catches us up at night.
Restful and deep sleep
The ideal time to go to sleep is before 10 p.m. After that, Pitta predominates again and becomes more difficult to get a good sleep. We call a good restful sleep when we sleep from 6 to 8 hours at night.
Waking up approximately 96 minutes before sunrise, is regarded as very auspicious. Brāhmi muhūrta is the time in the early morning where Vata, Pitta and Kapha are perfectly balanced and they create a harmonious condition to engage with spiritual practices. Morning prayer, mantras or meditation are great ways to use that sacred time.
Beginning the day
Waking up with the rising sun is considered the best option. Working with the sunlight not just motivates and make you feel better, but also your system is awake and ready to operate at its 100%. If you make the most of your day you will see that when the sun sets, your body starts shutting down naturally.
After stretching the body and slowly getting up from bed, we should first of all attend our natural urges. Once we train the body to have a bowel movement in the morning, the response will be really quick. The natural way is eliminating waste materials in the morning.
We must give special attention to maintaining a healthy mouth. The best way to brush the teeth is acquiring a 8-9 inch wig made of pungent/bitter plants such as Neem or Licorice and rub it gently without any toothpaste. Using a tongue scraper, oil pulling or gargling with warm water with salt also helps removing bacteria.
Next procedure can create a little bit of resistance for many of us, and is the ritual of using oil for our skin and hair daily. A very common practice in Ayurveda is abhyangam, which is a massage all over the body, including scalp and hair, intended to hydrate and nourish the skin while increasing blood circulation. This practice helps to relax the mind, bringing clarity and lightness and even preventing baldness.
Last but not least, a relaxing bath or invigorating shower must be taken. Bathing removes dirt and sweat and refreshes the mind. Natural perfumes can be used after in accordance to taste.
6 a.m to 10 a.m is the best time to exercise: Yoga, running or whichever exercise your practice must be done at this time. Any activity that makes us perspire and be tired is good to improve digestion and sleep. Once the energy channels are open,it’s great to practice pranayama and other types of breathwork.
Have the main meal of the day
Between 10 a.m to 12 p.m The sun is at its highest point and our digestive fire (Pitta) it’s also at its peak, being able to digest very efficiently. It’s the moment to eat the largest meal of the day.
After lunch, take the time to communicate, socialize, write, do productive work or have a walk. It is not a good time for vigorous exercise as the body is prone to injuries.
Around 7-8 p.m is a good time to have your last bite of the day. A healthy snack or a warm soup are ideal choices. You can have a short Yin or gentle Yoga session or go for a walk outside. Take the time to apply oils, have a relaxing bath or journal about the day.wind-down.
While this can seem a little tricky to implement into your daily habits, acquiring this basic Ayurvedic routines into your life will have game-changing effects in your health.
The theory of Vata, Pitta and Kapha also applies to our physical and mental constitution. As for Ayurveda, we are all born with a specific condition or nature (Prakruti). Perfect balance and the mastery of one’s self is very much linked to knowing our nature and flowing with it. Part of the success from this ancient medicine is due to the individual approach given to all patients. Everyone is unique, with its respective ailments and remedies. This perspective makes this medicine a holistic practice suitable for all.
Going Deeper into Ayurveda:
If you are looking to go deeper into Ayurveda, there are few schools that offer comprehensive courses and trainings on the subject. Ayurvedic studies are rare in places other than India. The cradle of Ayurveda is Kerala, in South India; there you will find amazing Ayurveda programs for beginners to certified degrees in college. Here there is a few of the most reliable schools.
AyurYoga Eco Ashram- Kerala, India
AyurYoga is led by an amazing team that teaches both yoga and Ayurveda at their ashram. They offer beginners yoga retreats, yoga teacher trainings and all kinds of Ayurvedic retreats. All their treatments are carried out by Ayurvedic doctors and for a minimum of 14 days. The best way to learn more about the ayurvedic routine and principles is to experiment them yourself.
East+West is one of the world’s leading yoga schools, which will soon also start offering Ayurveda trainings as well. They currently run trainings in Bali, and in 2020 will start offering teacher trainings in Costa Rica, and teacher trainings in India as well. Their lead teachers are Indian with Physiotherapy, Ayurveda, and other traditional backgrounds.
Kerala Ayurveda Academy
Kerala Ayurveda Academy has both treatment center and academy. Located in the US, they have different centers in few cities all over the country. The certified programs start from 1 year to 2,5 years. If you are looking for something more serious and outside of India, this is a good place to go to.