The everyday Ayurveda for side-steppers
Side steppers hold true to believing in it but have a hard time fully practicing it. In some respects, I am a side-stepper, therefore I respect side-steppers. It is nearly impossible to not bea side-stepper in this day in age with all the circulating ideas, opinions, research, and crap that occupies our plane. How are we ever supposed to stay committed to one way of living when the motherload of compelling research has just dropped down onto our feed pertaining to this other way of living that promises all of the things we cant get from our current state of living. Confusing you yet? Me too.
What I do fully support is an Ayurvedic lifestyle. After training with with Ram Mani Bhandari, an Ayurvedic doctor, on the west coast of Nicaragua, I am highly convinced that we have the ability to cure anything and everything by connecting our bodies to all of the elements present in our current environment. Nature is our pantry, and step however you will like this lifestyle, but I can guarantee you will not feel wronged in the slightest after discovering your bodily constitutional needs and what it takes for you to achieve vibrant health down to something as simple as drinking room temperature water. First and foremost, discover your dosha here.
Ayurveda is an ancient healing system based out of India that emphasizes the importance of connection between the body, mind, spirit, and environment. Balance is achieved when one becomes aware of the requirements for each bodily constitution and tunes into the importance of diet, lifestyle, seasonal changes, and behavioral patterns. This ultimately allows the individual to connect to the senses and use this heightened awareness to their advantage resulting in health.
The best part about Ayurveda is that within the system there are no limits to what can or cant be cured. We are given everything we need to cure + prevent anything from sleep apnea to skin disorders, irregular menstruation to hyperglycemia. All it takes is tuning in just a hair so that we can sense the imbalances when they arise and take action before they begin to strip ones health.
The hardest part of Ayurveda is that it can seem to be a heavy load of lifestyle tips, information, diet cues, and guidelines to remember for those who are just beginning to adopt this way of living. It takes many years for any lifestyle to feel automatic, Ayurveda is no different. With small changes every day, though, there is no other direction to move except forward towards this golden way of living. Heres a few ways I keep my life guided by Ayurveda every day:
OIL PULLING | Just upon waking, before brushing, gargle 1 spoonful of sesame or coconut oil in the mouth for 15-20 minutes to remove any bacteria of the mouth. The oil draws toxins out of the gums, back of throat, tongue, and food particles stuck in between the teeth. Regular oil pulling has been shown to help prevent disease of the mouth, such as gingivitis, as well as prevent the decaying of the teeth. Once you are finished, spit the oil in the trash can + follow with a nice good thorough brushing of the teeth + tongue with fluoride-free toothpaste or home-made tooth powder.
ROOM TEMPERATURE WATER | The purpose of drinking only room temperature, warm or hot water is so the body does not have to use any more energy than it needs to stay hydrated. Room temperature or warmer water helps to relax the bowels, effectively flush out toxins, and smoothly carry sludge out of ones insides thus allowing deep detoxification. Water is essential, lets maximize its capabilities!
EATING MEALS IN A CALM, RELAXED ENVIRONMENT | A huge part to achieving food awareness + improving conscious eating is that we eat in a place of comfort, with no distractions. I simply wont eat a meal standing up, nor will I eat in front of the television. Unless I know I will have adequeate time to chew each and every bite, without rushing, I will postpone meal time. When Im in a place that gives me anxiety + fear, or even when I'm out for drinks with friends, I tend to consciously choose to opt out. Eating in an unsettled state paves way for malabsorption of food, indigestion, bloating, weight gain, flatuence, overeating, and ultimately loss of connection to the healing powers of food. This one is HUGE for me. It is not uncommon for me to take up to one hour to complete a meal!
SPICE UP YOUR LIFE | Once you determine your dosha (bodily constitution), along with it comes a whole guidebook to what exactly your body desires in order to reach vibrancy. Certain grains, food combinations, sweeteners, and spices co-align with your predetermined dosha. I am Vata-Pitta constitution, so my go-to spices to amp up my meal time and digestion are mustard seed, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, garlic and poppy seed.
LUNCH IS THE MAIN MEAL | I didn't adopt this one until recently, but have come to find that when I position my main meal in the middle of the day, it leaves me the most time to consciously chew + enjoy every bite while allowing my body adequate time before and after to prepare and digest my bounty of nutrients. Mornings are generally crazy as I teach privates before I start my workday, and evenings are as well as I do my own personal yoga practice or workout routine between 3:30 + 7 pm, leaving me eating a later dinner so I like to keep it light. For lunch I stick to some type of bowl concoction of grains, spiced veggies, and as many greens as I can fit topped with avocado and a tahini-lemon dressing.
SWEETS IN THE MORNING | I'm not talking about jelly-filled pastries. I'm talking about the sweetest fruits I can find. For Vata individuals, sweet fruits such as melons + pineapples + grapefruits are strength-building, nourishing, and grounding to stabilize the flighty-ness they tend to encounter when in "Vata" mode. Other naturally sweet foods to favor in the morning are most grains, nuts + seeds, yogurt, ghee, and root vegetables. But remember, not all at once. Proper food combining is a real thing!
FAT IS MY BEST FRIEND | I cant emphasize the importance of fat enough! For Vata individuals, the grounding effects of healthy whole-food fats are essential in remaining stable and in tune with each day. I go to town on my freshly-blended herbal nut butters (by the spoonful, especially in the morning!), organic coconut + oil, ghee, farm-fresh eggs, and as many avocados as I can get my hands on. The brain NEEDS fat as it is made up of almost entirely fat. Without adequate amounts of the right fat, our brain is unable to send us signals to our body when we are satisfied to help prevent overeating.
GROUNDING HERBS TO CARRY ME ALONG | Us Vata predominant individuals need as much help as we can get when it comes to grounding + calming, which is why I choose adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha + Tulsi + Reishi + Mucuna Pruriens to add to my morning coffee, shakes, soups, dressings, and afternoon tonics. These herbs help to calm the central nervous system, prevent anxiety, reduce inflammation, promote high quality sleep + sense of centeredness. You can count me in.
RESTFUL SLEEP IS PARAMOUNT | Sleep is our time for the body to recycle, revamp, and rejuvenate. It is our time to take all physical + mental + environmental nutrients and integrate them into the body. If you know me, I am a complete psycho about my sleep and pretty high-maintenance due to the fact that I cherish my sleep and know that without proper sleep, I literally wont function! If it comes down to it, I will always choose sleep over a morning practice or workout routine. No shame. Without restful sleep, follows disease + weakness + anxiety + irritability + poor health.
So there's a few of the things I do try and practice everyday. As always, though, I can side-step my way through life as I please, and I will always enjoy my coffee + occasional bout of cocktails! Coincidentally these are two elements that I have found to very much set me off balance if I over-do it. But you only live once, right?