Ayurveda is the mother of all healing sciences as it is the oldest scripted medicine in history. Originated in India over 3,000 years ago, it is dubbed as “the science of life”. Ayurveda attempts to create harmony between body, mind and spirit, and it maintains this balance by treating symptoms in order to remove the cause of a disease. With a focus on promoting health, rather then fighting disease, I was intrigued by Ayurveda and I wanted to learn more.
Going back in time to 2010, when I didn’t make the Olympic team and I thought my life as I knew it, was over, I wanted to embrace a new challenge and I found that challenge in studying holistic nutrition (and continuing my skating career, but that’s a whole other story ). I studied holistic nutrition for 2 years with the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and became a Registered Nutritionist. This summer, I found myself hungry for more knowledge about wellness and I saw that the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition offered courses in Ayurvedic Nutrition. I’d heard about Ayurveda before, but I didn’t know much about it except that it came from India and Yogi’s studied it. I wanted to learn about this ancient method of healing so I registered for their certification program to learn more.
Everything in the Universe, living or not, is connected. Good health is achieved when your body, mind and spirit are in harmony with the Universe.
Ayurvedic Nutritional guidelines are based on the understanding of the three Biological Humors, also referred to as, doshas:
Pungent, Astringent, Salty, Sweet, Sour, Bitter
Ayurveda is based on the principle that the body is made up of five elements; space, air, water, fire and earth. When these elements are balanced and working together, they maintain a healthy individual. While we all have these five elements in our bodies, they are in different proportions in each individual, making us one of Vata, Pitta or Kapha. An imbalance in any of these elements may make a person ill. It is important to note that although we have all five of these elements flowing through us at all times, each individual has certain elements that are more dominant than others. There are personality charts and body type diagrams available to allow individuals to discover which dosha they are more dominant in; therefore, they can begin the process of healing disease.
Ayurveda is rooted in the principle of balance. In order to reach this balance, we must decrease the use of foods with qualities most like our body types. For example, Vata is like the wind. It is cold, dry and rough. If a Vata type ate these foods, it would become disturbed.
Energy is the life force of food and the energy of food is determined by the natural or unnatural conditions in which it is farmed. Whether that energy is transmitted into our bodies is determined by the season in which it is picked and ate and by whether or not it is complimentary to our body type. Foods that are grown naturally without the use of chemicals and without processing, are obviously the optimal choice. Foods that are canned, frozen or chemically produced are toxic to our health and they are devoid of any energy. The vital energy in foods is what invigorates the organs, tissues, fluids and spaces in the body. When we eat foods that are devoid of any energy, we guarantee a slow and dangerous decline of our internal environment.
According to Ayurveda, if we stick to morning rituals, we align our body with natures rhythm’s, so we can have good energy all day. I started doing a few Ayurvedic rituals myself over the past few months and I wanted to share them with you.
- Oil Pulling: Coconut Oil is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial and it is the perfect oil for oil pulling. You simply take about a tablespoon in your month and swish it around for 5-20 minutes. This is known to fight off bacteria and congestion, as well as reducing gum disease and inflammation. It also works as a detoxification, that’s why it’s important to do it in the morning. Don’t swallow the oil, because you are pulling toxins from your body and you don’t want to put them back in. Spit it out in the garbage, so you don’t clog the drain of the sink.
- Tongue Scraping: Before having any water, Ayurveda suggests scraping away the white coating on your tongue. It is known as a build up of toxins that are lurking in the digestive tract. Scrape from front to back.
- Oiling the Body: Giving yourself a hot oil massage before showering stimulates the nerves, relaxes the muscle and loosens the joints. It also helps to releases toxins deep in our tissues. Sesame oil is the recommended oil because of it’s warming effects. Coconut oil is known more as a cooling oil which might be beneficial for Pitta types or in the summer months.
- Hot Lemon Water: This is a big digestive aid, flushing out unwanted material and toxins. Lemons are also high in Vitamin C and this is beneficial for fighting off colds. Lemon juice also works to balance our PH level by removing acidity. This helps in reducing pain and inflammation. Every morning, and sometimes at night as well, I squeeze a few slices of lemon into hot water and add ginger.
Graciousness is a preferred trait in the Ayurvedic lifestyle. It is essential to show respect to those who help feed us, from the creator of the food, to the farmers who grow the food, to the cook whom prepares it. The harmony of how we eat is also an important aspect in Ayurveda. Sweet foods turn sour in our digestive tract when the emotions present during the meal are negative. Never eat while you are upset, it is an offence to the body and the provider of the food. It is also important to maintain a mealtime schedule that is consistent.
A few other key points include:
- Allow a few hours between meals and bedtime
- Take a gentle walk after meals to soothe digestion
- Never stand up, lay down or watch TV while eating
- Fill your stomach with 1/3rd food, 1/3rd liquid, and keep 1/3rd empty to allow space and energy for proper digestion
Overall, Ayurveda aims at finding balance in the body, mind, and spirit. There is much more information, including the 14 nadas, chakras and the channels of circulation. If your interested, send me a message or email and I can further educate you! 🙂