You don’t need to know everything about Ayurveda to really succeed with an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle. Yes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with Ayurveda, especially when you’re first starting out. There’s a lot of information to ingest and it can easily become confusing.
You’re probably also really eager to get started. Ayurveda is wonderful and it’s great to get to know yourself through this lens. But if you’re trying to learn everything all at once you’ll likely get overwhelmed, experience some burnout, or get frustrated and give up. But don’t worry. Grasping the basic concepts is actually very easy!
Ayurveda is set up according to a simple but profound structured system. If you learn the basics and apply them to your life you’ll do really well. So don’t get overwhelmed with Ayurveda. Just learn these 4 things and you’ll be on your way.
In Ayurveda, a daily routine is paramount for good health. A daily routine establishes harmony within the body and mind. It brings regularity to daily body functions like digestion, elimination and sleep. This in turn brings harmony to your emotions, mind and mood.
If you want well being, a daily routine should be part of your life.
How do you create a daily routine? Have meals at the same times every day. Go to sleep and wake at the same times every day, as best you can. Start where you are and keep things simple.
When you’re ready you can add more Ayurvedic practices to your routine. Self-massage with oil is a wonderful daily support, as is yoga asana, breathing practices and meditation. tongue scraping and nasya oil are also great practices to add. All of these things you can do in the morning, ending with yoga asana, breathing practices and meditation.
Do get to know the doshas. These will be like guideposts for you. Keep a food list on hand (what to eat and what not to eat for your dosha). Don’t worry about remembering it all, just refer to this list when you need it. And use your basic knowledge of the doshas to assist you in making choices for yourself.
The doshas are the fundamental principles of Ayurveda. They are the organizational structures of the body and mind, according to Ayurveda.
The 3 doshas are vatadosha, pittadosha and kaphadosha. They are combinations of the 5 elements (earth, air, fire, water and ether). They have the qualities of the elements and carry out the many functions of the body and mind. Your Ayurvedic constitution will be some combination of these 3 doshas. If you have an imbalance, your practitioner will let you know and you can take measures to bring balance to your system.
Vata Dosha is formed of air and ether. Vata dosha expresses as movement, creativity and agility. Vata dosha has the qualities of air and ether. It is light, dry, mobile, rough, cold, irregular, quick and flexible. Apply the opposite qualities to bring balance to vata dosha. Opposite qualities include heat and warmth, heaviness, liquid, stability and strength. Think moist foods (soups, stews, soft ripe fruits, avocado), self-massage with oil, and regular routine.
Pitta Dosha is formed of fire and water. Pitta rules the intelligence, metabolism and temperature of the body. The qualities of pitta dosha are hot, light, intense, penetrating, pungent, acidic and sharp. Opposite qualities that balance pitta dosha are sweet, cool and stabilizing. Coconut, aloe vera juice, basmati rice, rose and relaxation all balance pitta dosha.
Kapha Dosha is formed of water and earth. Kapha is the structure and glue of our bodies. Kapha is moist, stable, heavy, cold, soft, oily. Opposite qualities like dryness, movement, heat, activity and stimulation bring balance to kapha dosha.
If you can begin to grasp the basic qualities of the doshas, then you can begin to see them in all sorts of things – food, the weather, your self, friends and family. You can begin to apply the principle of opposites and bring more balance into your life.
Incompatible food combinations are good to be aware of. These are foods that, when eaten together are not properly digested and create toxins. Some examples of incompatible foods include fish consumed with dairy (like chowder), and fruits eaten with anything else (strawberry milk shakes). Fruit is best eaten alone.
Check to see if there are any incompatible combinations that are a part of your regular diet. Begin to change these out to improve your digestion and your overall well being.
Once you’ve made some head way with the doshas, incompatible foods, and your daily routine, it may be helpful to have a basic understanding of agni. Agni is your metabolic fire. You could say it’s the strength of your hunger but it’s so much more than just that.
Agni is responsible for your ability to digest and assimilate not only gross food but anything you take in through the 5 senses. Agni is key to your digestive health and your well being throughout all of your life.
Agni may be balanced or out of balance. It could be irregular with alternating quick and slow digestion patterns (diarrhea, gas, rumbling in the abdomen). It could also be excessive causing dry throat, burning sensations and hunger very soon after eating. Or agni could be dull and slow creating heaviness in the abdomen and head. Whichever state your agni is in, balanced agni is the goal.
Balanced agni is known as samagniand is present when all 3 doshas are balanced. Your diet and even your behavior can affect your agni. What you can do is, become aware of your own personal digestive tendencies and learn some ways to balance agni. Agni teas, herbs like triphala and Ayurvedic cleanses and kitchari can all bring balance to agni. Agni is a key to your digestive health and your well being. It’s something to become familiar with.
Simple lifestyle changes can really impact your life. If an Ayurvedic practitioner recommended a daily routine to you or a specific diet, just take on one thing at a time. That’s the best way to make lifestyle changes happen – slowly. Changes really stick that way.
Take your time while learning the basic principles of Ayurveda. Don’t give up or worry about it or become obsessed with it. Ayurveda will show you so much about how to live well. And along the way you’ll learn some wonderful ways to relax into life and let everything be. And then before you know it… Boom! You’re an Ayurveda girl, living well and loving life!
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