Your Guide to the Ayurveda Lifestyle
If civilizations have used a specific practice or lifestyle for thousands of years, usually, there is something to it. The same can be said of the Ayurveda lifestyle.
Developed over 5000 years ago in India, the Ayurveda lifestyle is often referred to as a healing or medicinal system. However, it’s much more than that. It’s not just about treatment after an illness has happened. But, also about preventing ill health in the first place.
So, let’s dive a little deeper. What is the Ayurveda lifestyle? What does it entail? And how can you get started?
What is the Ayurveda Lifestyle?
Ayurveda revolves around maintaining good health by preventing and treating illness through one’s lifestyle. This usually involves massage, yoga, meditation, a healthy diet, herbal incorporations, and more.
All in all, it’s actually considered the oldest healing system in the world.
Generally, it’s about maintaining or improving the balance of the body, mind, and soul. In many ways, it’s very specific to the individual.
But more specifically, Ayurvedic medicine is based on the idea that the world is made up of five elements — Aakash (space), Jala (water), Prithvi (earth), Teja (fire), and Vayu (air).
A combination of each element results in three doshas, known as Vata, Kapha, and Pitta. The doshas are responsible for an individual’s physiological, mental, and emotional health.
This lifestyle is built on the idea that each person has an ideal balanced state based on their dominant dosha. Yet, external and internal factors can quickly throw this balance off course, which is why the lifestyle incorporates daily practices for optimal health and prevention.
What Are the Doshas?
So, what are the attributes of each dosha? Let’s find out. Keep in mind these are generalizations, and an Ayurvedic practitioner is the best person to define your energy type.
The goal of the Ayurveda lifestyle is to find the optimal balance in your life between all these energies so that illness and pain don’t manifest in the body.
Vata is the energy linked to movement because of its associations with air and space (Vayu and Aakash). It includes breathing, muscle and tissue movement, your heartbeat, and more.
The Vata energy is described as dry, light, clear, mobile, and cold – so those with a dominant Vata energy can be energetic, slim, and creative. It’s thought when this particular energy becomes imbalanced, you experience fear and anxiety. To avoid this, the Vata type should consume warm liquids, maintain a stress management routine, and avoid the cold weather.
Pitta, on the other hand, refers to the metabolic processes of the body, such as digestion, body temperature, absorption, and more. The word Pitta can be roughly translated to fire and is made up of the Jala and Teja elements (water and fire).
Pitta energy is described as hot, oily, sharp, and liquid, so those with Pitta dominance are competitive, highly motivated, athletic, and are considered strong leaders.
When this energy is imbalanced, it’s thought that hatred, anger, and jealousy arise, and Pitta types should avoid hot weather and spicy food and be sure to eat regularly to avoid getting hangry.
Meanwhile, Kapha‘s elements are Jala (water), Prithvi (earth), and it is associated with the energy within your body’s structures, such as the bones, muscles, and more. This energy is described as steady, heavy, slow, cold, and soft.
An individual with Kapha dominance is strong, caring, deliberate, and thinks their actions through. However, they also might experience a slow metabolism, lethargy, and sleepiness and require motivation.
Imbalances of the Kapha energy lead to greed, envy, and attachment, so Kapha types should focus on regular exercise, following a healthy diet full of warm food, drinks, and spices, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule.
How to Start the Ayurveda Lifestyle
Let’s break this down.
Inevitably, if you were to take on the entire Ayurveda lifestyle all at once, you might be left feeling overwhelmed and potentially frustrated, mainly because the requirements for each dosha are different.
Thus, it’s best to start with incorporating broader Ayurvedic lifestyle practices such as the ones outlined below.
Step 1: Start A Meditation Practice
Meditation takes practice. At first, it might feel really difficult to sit still and not go down a rabbit hole of thoughts or emotions. Yet, with consistency and time, you will get better at it.
Start your day with meditation by setting your alarm a few minutes earlier. Begin with a two-minute practice, then gradually increase it from there.
Using phone applications, such as Insight Timer or Headspace, can further offer some guidance, getting you started and on track. You can also set reminders to help you get into a meditation routine.
Read this next: 8 Meditation Apps You Have to Download
Step 2: Become More Conscious of Your Emotions
Meditation should naturally do this for you, but other practices, such as journaling, can help you become more in-tune with your stressors, triggers, and reactions. From there, you can effectively learn how to manage them and respond appropriately.
Consider checking in on this a couple of weeks after beginning your meditation practice. Where can you improve? And next time you’re stressed, take note. Get to the bottom of your stress and find ways to let it go.
Step 3: Incorporate Parts of the Ayurveda Diet
The Ayurveda diet encourages whole-food eating – avoiding packaged or overly processed foods – as well as an emphasis on healing herbs. Yet, it can be confusing. Basically, you want to eat what works for you and your body.
Consider: what foods provide you with sustained energy? What nutrient-dense sources feel good to eat?
Some examples might include:
On top of these types of foods, you’ll also want to season them with a variety of spices, such as cumin, cinnamon, cilantro, turmeric, ginger, basil, black pepper, thyme, and more.
Again, it’s all about finding what works for you and your body.
If you’re new to this way of eating, consider gradually replacing foods in your cupboards with whole foods, doing a little bit at a time.
Step 4: Prioritize Sleep
Sleep is an essential part of life, and the Ayurveda lifestyle considers it just as important as meditation and diet.
Stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time each day. Consider using relaxing essential oils for sleep, such as lavender or Neroli, to wind down after your day.
Step 5: Begin a Daily Self-Massage and/or Yoga Routine
This is beneficial regardless if you want to start an Ayurvedic practice or not, but add in a bit of self-care movement and massage. It might be best to do this once you have your meditation habit and diet down pat. That way, you won’t feel overwhelmed by a sudden influx of new habits.
Self-massage can be performed through the use of essential and herbal oils. Additionally, you might choose to light incense while performing your yoga routine (just be careful about inhaling any smoke!).
Related article: Your Ultimate Guide to Different Yoga Types
Step 6: Use Oil
The Ayurvedic lifestyle is keen on incorporating more oil into your life. Whether it’s oiling your hair once a week, using oil in your self-massage, or even doing oil pulling for your dental health, it’s time to pick up some coconut oil.
Ayurveda Lifestyle Tips & Tricks
Here are a few other bits of advice to help you out along the way:
1. Go Slow
We can’t emphasize this enough. While it’s a super healthy and holistic lifestyle, feelings of overwhelm are all too real.
2. Focus on How You Feel & Listen to Your Body
If you’re feeling particularly fatigued one day, perhaps it’s not the best time to start a new yoga routine. If you notice one type of food doesn’t sit well, there are many others to choose from. Don’t force certain foods to work if they just don’t. After all, the goal is for you to feel good!
3. Incorporate Stress-Release Techniques
Stress is all too real in modern society. Thus, having multiple avenues to turn to can help re-balance this energy and leave you with more energy for things that matter in your life.
4. Recruit Your Friends & Family
Why do it alone? Get everyone on board with this new lifestyle. It can provide fun activities to bond over. Plus, you get healthier in the process!
Find Your Balance, Starting Today!
You don’t have to do anything major. Simply take one small step today toward adopting this lifestyle. With thousands of years as evidence, this truly is one of the best ways to feel good and obtain optimal health.
The Ayurveda lifestyle also isn’t super strict, meaning you have some freedom here. You can pick and choose foods you like. You can find a sleep schedule and yoga practice that works for you. It’s all about taking care of yourself, which, realistically, none of us should lean away from!
Read next: The Primal Lifestyle for Beginners