Tag Archives: health

4 Inspiring Ways to Love from Ayurveda

Love is such a mysterious subject, right?

This one invisible thing is what makes the whole world go round. We do incredible things in the name of love. We use this word so easily and often, and yet, what is love, really?

Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, and the world’s oldest healing system, offers inspiring perspectives on the true meaning and expression of love in our lives that go beyond our traditional notions of love.

That is because, in its fullest expression and application, Ayurveda extends far beyond mere physical practices to include ways to allow us to connect with—and free—our spirits. As a holistic system of health and healing, Ayurveda teaches us how to lead healthier lives with practices that feed our minds, bodies and spirits.

Here are four Ayurvedic practices you can try today to begin putting love into action. These practices will nourish you and those around you physically, mentally and spiritually—not just today, but every day.

1. Slow down.

1 Corinthians 13 famously proclaims, “Love is patient, love is kind.” It’s interesting that this beautiful passage begins by defining love as patience.

My teacher, Acharya Shunya, says that love is dharma, or a universal path of noble living by certain ideals. Of the 10 qualities or attributes of dharma recommended by Ayurveda for leading a healthy and happy life, patience is the first.

Practicing patience is a key ingredient of love, health and happiness.

In today’s busy world of immediate gratification, we are used to wanting things to happen and get done quickly. This fast-paced existence, however, can be harmful to our health.

Ayurveda teaches how vata dosha, or the bioforce made of air and ether elements in our body and mind, is responsible for the majority of imbalances. The nature of the air is to move fast. And motion and speed in excess naturally lead to decay and destruction. That’s why traveling a lot can wear us out and excess commuting can cause symptoms of early aging.

Slowing down our activities, movement and even speech is a great way to practice self-love. Doing so increases the bioforce of kapha dosha, made of earth and water, which gives us a feeling of grounding, stability, nourishment, and contentment.

I was not born a patient person by any means, but putting patience into practice has been a big boon to my own sense of well-being and feeling of self-love. Not to mention how it has improved my physical health! Since slowing down my life as a fast-paced New Yorker, I feel younger as I grow older.

Practicing patience with others in our lives is a great way to promote harmony in all of our relationships. Listening without interrupting is a great way to do this.

2. Meditate.

Ayurveda psychology teaches us that the quality of sattva, or balance, peacefulness and contentment is the true state of our mind. The Ayurveda sages discovered three main qualities that pervade the universe around and within us—these are sattva (balance), rajas (agitation) and tamas (inertia).

Tamas, when in balance, helps us rest and sleep. Out of balance, however, this force of inertia can cause us to experience darkness, depression and denial. Tamas is stagnant energy.

It is the opposite of rajas, which is associated with action, passion, and motion. Rajas helps us get up, get moving and get things done. But it can also lead to exhaustion and burnout, as well as tamas.

The great news is that sattva, which is synonymous with a compassionate, loving state of mind, is our true nature. Love, in this sense, is who we really are.

One of the best ways we can access our true nature as love itself is by practicing meditation. The practice of meditation allows the compassionate quality of sattva to strengthen in our minds, allowing us to experience love, and radiate it to all those we meet.

3. Go outside.

Ayurveda is all about restoring our connection with nature—our own true nature, as well as the natural world around us. Nature, indeed, is the greatest healer in Ayurveda. We work with nature when we seek to heal ourselves and others with this science, and spending time in nature is one of the best ways that my teacher recommends we recharge ourselves with self-love.

It’s as easy as taking the time to step outside. When I go outside, I try to really observe nature, and contemplate all the lessons nature has to offer. From becoming as expansive and forgiving as the sky above, to remaining as sturdy and steadfast as the trees rooted in the ground below, there is much we can learn from nature.

Because Mother Earth is in danger in many ways, with all the developments of modernization, doing our part to clean up litter on our streets and rivers is another great way to express love for the planet we live on, and all its residents. As is recycling.

4. Give back.

I’m always amazed by how the Vedic sages who have revealed to us the science of Ayurveda recommended service and giving back as an important practice for our own health and well-being. Indeed, when we can do something simple as serving soup in a soup kitchen one day a week, we are able to connect to our inner, abiding source of love.

The spiritual law of karma is inherent to the practice of Ayurveda. The more we give back, the more we generate positive karma that comes back to protect us when we most need it. If we want more love in our lives, the best way to generate it is by giving our love to others by offering something to benefit someone else.

In giving to others, it is really we who benefit. Whenever I find myself overly concerned about something or someone in my life, taking the time and putting in the effort to give back is a wonderful way of returning to my inherent state of wholeness, balance—and love.

Wishing you much joy as you put love into action with these four practices this February.

~Originally posted on elephantjournal.com

Learn more about Ayurveda in my book, The Ayurveda Way: 108 Practices from the World’s Oldest Healing System for Better Sleep, Optimal Digestion, Less Stress and More.

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7 Ayurvedic Secrets For Healthy Digestion

(As originally published as "Featured Story" on MindBodyGreen.com)

Are you sick of feeling tired, sluggish and bloated after eating? I was once in the same boat. Having struggled with digestive difficulties for most of my life, I felt so grateful to discover Ayurveda, ancient India’s medical science of life that is re-emerging as a sustainable health solution globally.

In studying Ayurveda, I learned that having healthy digestion is the key to having great overall health; I watched my own health dramatically improve by following Ayurveda’s digestion secrets. Now, as an Ayurveda practitioner and teacher, I love watching my clients and students improve their digestion and health with Ayurveda’s wisdom.

I am, therefore, delighted to share a few of Ayurveda’s time-tested secrets for amazing digestion with you.  Continue reading

All-Natural DIY Anti-Acne & Anti-Aging Facial Recipe

(As published as “Featured Today Highlight,” “Featured Wellness Article,” “Featured Green Article,” and in “Popular Lately” on ElephantJournal.com)

One of the most inspiring aspects of Ayurveda, the ancient medical science of life from India, is how it empowers us to take health into our own hands in all respects.

As someone who has tried every product out there to combat acne-prone skin as a teenager and in my early 20s, I was very grateful to discover an abundance of skincare recipes that can be created right from the comforts of one’s own kitchen from the Ayurvedic pantheon.

Now that I am in my late 20s, not only have my skin and wallet thanked me for the all-natural ways I have adopted to care for my skin, but people actually think I look approximately ten years younger than I am.

The skin is the largest organ of the body.

In Ayurveda, the quality of one’s skin is considered a reflection of one’s overall digestion. Not only does what we put inside our body matter; so does what we put onto our skin. The skin, like the stomach, has to digest whatever it comes into contact with.

One of the keys to skincare in Ayurveda is that we would never apply something onto our body that we would not want to consume orally. In other words, if we aren’t able to safely eat something, we won’t put it onto our skin either.

Here is one of my favorite Ayurvedic facial skincare recipes that I make and appreciate for its anti-acne and anti-aging qualities. It is all-natural and made up of some wonderful ingredients that are just as beneficial for you when eaten as they are when applied topically on your skin.

Ingredients:

1. Sandalwood Powder

Sandalwood (called Chandan in Sanskrit) is one of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs for beauty. It is cooling, soothing, and has a pleasant aroma. Its pharmacological actions also include being antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, blood purifying and intellect promoting. It is often used therapeutically in bleeding and burning conditions of the body. Sandalwood also has a quality called ahladana in Sanskrit, which means it gives happiness. Consumed internally (usually with coconut water), sandalwood gives relief to excessive thirst.

2. Turmeric

One of the main actions of turmeric is called varnya in Sanskrit, which means it improves the complexion, tone, and texture of the skin. It is an antioxidant, antiallergenic, antimicrobial herb that supports us in building immunity inside the body (when consumed internally as part of many Ayurvedic meal recipes). Turmeric additionally greatly benefits the lungs and helps in diseases of the blood, such as anemia. Turmeric’s beautifying properties are so well-known by Indians that there is an entire ritual dedicated to applying turmeric-based skin recipes onto the bride’s skin the day before she gets married.

3. Saffron

Saffron is another very popular Ayurvedic beauty enhancer. Have you ever seen the red dots that Indian women wear on their foreheads between the eyebrows? Nowadays, this is for purely cosmetic value (and created out of a sticky material to allow it to remain on the forehead). Traditionally, however, saffron was worn on the forehead as what is called a bindi (a small red dot between the eyebrows), which also had the added benefit of helping prevent and heal headaches. Saffron is also used as a great rejuvenating herb mixed into warm milk, in which it serves as a rejuvenating herb in cases of debility. Saffron added to warm milk also helps alleviate colds in children.

4. Masoor Dal

This type of lentil can be found in all Indian stores. It is a reddish-orange colored lentil that purifies the blood and is particularly beneficial for fevers when cooked and consumed as food. There are three bioforces in the body, according to Ayurveda. The main dosha (bioforce) involved in acne is called pittadosha. An imbalanced pitta dosha is one of the main causative factors contributing to the presence of acne. By balancing pitta dosha, masoor dal is a great anti-acne ingredient.

How to make & apply it:

1. Place 1 cup of masoor dal into a coffee grinder or blender.

2. Add 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder.

3. Put 15-20 strands of saffron into the mix.

4. Add 2 teaspoons of sandalwood powder.

5. Grind or blend the mixture into a fine powder.

6. Mix a little water into the powder to make a paste.

7. Apply the paste to your face.

8. Keep the facial on for about 5-10 minutes.

9. Rinse off with cool water.

Tip: The best time to apply this facial is just prior to your shower in the morning.

Start applying some of Ayurveda’s kitchen-based wisdom to your face and say good-bye to years of spending exorbitant amounts of money on skincare products. Now that I’ve transformed my skincare routine, there’s no looking back.

References:

Dash, Bhagawan. Materia Medica of Ayurveda. New Delhi: Health & Harmony, 1991.

Hegde, Prakash. A Text Book of Dravyaguna Vijnana. New Delhi: Chaukhamba Publications, 2014.

Paranjpe, Prakash. Ayurvedic Home Remedies. New Delhi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2000.

Photo Credit: Steven Jackson/Flickr

4 All-Natural, Ayurvedic Insomnia Solutions

(As published as “Featured Story” on MindBodyGreen.com)

It’s easy to think nothing of missing a little sleep here or there, especially to accomplish more work. I used to believe this, and stayed up many a late night to try to take advantage of the quietness that nighttime provides.

The reality of losing sleep, however, is quite grim. Whereas proper sleep gives you the ability to receive knowledge, the ancient Ayurveda texts teach us that lack of proper sleep not only puts us in poor mental states, but also deteriorates our memory, and hampers our focus, creativity and decision-making abilities. In this sense, regular lack of sleep easily gives rise to ignorance, in terms of both thoughts and behavior.

Modern health experts agree. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) even conducted a study that found that poor sleep at night can impair our behavior just as much as being legally drunk does.

As a lifelong student, and now teacher and practitioner of Ayurveda, I am most passionate about promoting the sub-science of Ayurveda called Svasthavritta, which includes many all-natural, dietary and lifestyle-based solutions to a variety of health challenges, including insomnia.

As someone who used to suffer from chronic insomnia, these four all-natural Ayurvedic insomnia solutions have all worked wonders for me, and I’m delighted to share them with you.

1. Sleep by 10pm and arise by 6am.

“Early to bed, early to rise” is not only a popular colloquial expression; it’s also one of Ayurveda’s most important insomnia solutions. By going to sleep no later than 10:00pm each evening, and arising no later than 6am, you benefit from the time frame it’s easiest to fall and remain asleep. You also live in greater overall harmony with the natural cycles of day and night.

The atmosphere during the time period between 8:30pm and 10:00pm is dominant in a quality known in Ayurveda psychology as tamas, which is essentially inertia or dullness. Tamas is a very helpful quality for making it easier to sleep. During the daytime, starting at 6:00am, the atmosphere is charged with the quality of rajas, which is connected with activity and movement.

I now find that waking up early (between 4:00am and 6:00am) gives me even more and higher-quality quiet time than I used to experience by staying awake late at night. Waking up early also helps you sleep more easily at night.

2. Turn off your T.V. and laptop after 8:00pm.

Your mind and psyche is constantly bombarded with inputs from a variety of media sources throughout the day. By turning off the television and computer screens at night, you can do our sleep a big favor by allowing yourself to stay away from mental distractions and start to prepare for the upcoming act of sleep.

3. Create a bedtime ritual.

Speaking of preparing for sleep at night, Harvard Business Review recently published an article about the importance of having a meaningful practice to help wind down your day. The science of Ayurveda has recommended this for thousands of years, via its various dinacharya (daily routine) practices.

According to Ayurveda’s dinacharya protocol, you should spend the hours of 6:00pm and 10:00pm in the company of the people, pets, books and activities that give you a sense of peace, calmness and grounding. Just before bedtime, it’s also recommended to adopt a practice that inspires you, such as reading an uplifting book, writing in your journal, going for an evening walk, listening to soothing music, or practicing meditation.

4. Oil your feet, the top of your head, and the back of your ears.

Another wonderful health ritual Ayurveda recommends for sound, quality sleep is the practice of oiling the soles of your feet, the top of your head, and the back of your ears with warm sesame oil. Doing so not only promotes healthy sleep; it also helps counteract the aging process and combats stress.

Following Ayurveda’s insomnia solutions has greatly transformed the quality of sleep I experience. Try these timeless solution, and you, too, can also start to sleep deeply, thanks to Ayurveda.

3 Ancient Ayurvedic Rituals to Rock Your Mornings

(Originally published in “Popular Lately” on MindBodyGreen.com)

Beginning the day in an inspiring and invigorating way profoundly impacts your overall health. Ayurveda, the ancient art and science of life from India, recognizes the power and potential that early morning practices provide us to truly take our health and lives into our own hands.

Because Ayurveda has changed my life in countless ways, and made me into a passionate student, teacher, and practitioner of this great knowledge system, I am delighted to share my three favorite Ayurvedic morning rituals to truly rock your mornings.  Continue reading

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