It’s likely you’ve heard of Ayurveda; from yoga practices to skincare options, even to the tea you drink, there seems to be an Ayurvedic option for everything. With Ayurveda seemingly everywhere you’re not alone in wondering what it is and how it can help you.
In its simplest form Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that focuses on preventing disease and disharmony in the body. Using a variety of different practices, including diet and routine, it aims to balance the mind, body and spirit.
Ayurvedic medicine is all encompassing and can be applied to many different parts of our lives. From our diet and environment to fashion and beauty, there is an Ayurvedic option for nearly every aspect of our lives.
Increasingly people are turning to ancient Ayurvedic methods to give meaning to modern processes, such as exploring how Ayurvedic dyes can create beautiful, sustainable fashions.
At the core of Ayurveda is the belief that there are three main energies at work in the body. These energies are called Doshas and have their own distinct qualities.
The three Doshas are:
- Vata – This is the force that governs movement and communication in the body. It is associated with ether and air elements
- Pitta – This is the force that governs your body’s digestion and transformation. It is associated with water and fire elements
- Kapha – This is the force that governs structure and cohesiveness and is associated with earth and water elements
Most of us will have a dominant Dosha at work within us. When we feel unwell or become sick it’s because our dominant Dosha has become unbalanced; this is when we use ayurvedic teachings to bring this energy back into balance.
You can find your dominant Dosha either by visiting an Ayurvedic practitioner or by answering an online questionnaire, like this one by Jasmine Hemsley.
Whilst Ayurvedic medicine is vast and all encompassing there are some great Ayurvedic practices anyone can incorporate into their daily routine to bring peace and wellbeing to the mind and body.
Fashion That Heals: Applying Ayurveda To Fabric Dyes
How To Create An Ayurvedic Morning Routine
1. Tongue Scraping
When we sleep our bodies get to work repairing our cells and ridding our body of toxins. One of the ways in which our bodies expel these toxins is via our mouth which is why we wake up with a discoloured coating on our tongues.
We remove some of this bacteria when we clean our teeth but to ensure we remove all of it we need to invest in a tongue scraper. Tongue scraping first thing in the morning removes this bacteria and promotes good digestive health by firing our salivary glands.
For best results scrape the surface of your tongue between 7-14 times and rinse thoroughly after use.
Favour a copper or stainless steel tongue scraper over plastic alternatives, like this copper option from Wearth.
Copper and stainless steel are durable, recyclable and, as they are non porous, they don’t harbour bacteria.
Yoga Matters offer a great stainless steel option that will help promote good oral hygiene and, if looked after properly, will last you for years.
2. Oil Pulling
Looking after our oral health is essential to keeping us healthy; once you have tongue scraped and brushed your teeth follow up with oil pulling. Oil pulling has been used for thousands of years in Indian culture and is great for:
- Removing toxins from the mouth, throat, and head
- Promoting good oral health by keeping teeth and gums healthy which also helps keep breath fresh
- Improve taste and help assist with all over gut health
Traditionally sesame oil is used in oil pulling but both olive oil and coconut oil also work well. To practise oil pulling take a tablespoon of warm oil and swish it around your mouth for approximately ten minutes, being careful not to swallow any.
After ten minutes spit out the oil and rinse your mouth with water; the act of expelling the oil will also remove any toxins that the oil has ‘pulled out’ from the body.
Both coconut and sesame oils are sustainably manufactured; always look for organic options to ensure a good quality product. Coconut Merchant sell high quality organic coconut oil which can be purchased here. While Clearspring sell a rich organic sesame oil here
3. Nasal Cleansing
Ayurvedic teachings also promote nasal cleansing, something that’s especially important for those of us who live in built up, urban areas or for anyone prone to allergies or sinus infections.
Nasal cleansing uses a teapot like container called a neti pot to flush out any mucus or debris that is lining the nasal passages.
Yoga Bliss sell great ceramic options like this neti pot which can hold up to 250ml of water. Ceramic is durable, easy to clean and long lasting; most ceramic options will last up to 50 years before needing to be replaced.
To use simply fill your neti pot with sterile saline water and insert the neti pot into one nostril. Tip your head in the opposite direction, ensuring your mouth is closed, and let the water flow through one nostril and out the other side. Repeat this motion on the other nostril.
4. Self Massage
Daily massage is one of the best things you can do for your body and can be self administered from home. Before you shower take some warm oil, making sure this is a plain natural oil like castor, sesame or coconut oil, and apply it liberally to your body.
A high quality, sustainable oil, like this castor oil from Pukka, will elevate your self massage and richly nourish your skin. To massage your skin use a firm but loving touch, ensuring to massage your stomach in a clockwise motion and using upwards strokes on your face and neck. Allow the oil to soak into your skin for 40 minutes before following up with a warm shower, making sure to massage any excess oil into the skin.
By practicing daily massage you’ll not only help break down and remove toxins from your body, but your skin will be left soft and supple. This is also a wonderful practice for your mental health and can help boost your mood and reduce stress.
5. Lemon Water
Finally, a great way to fire your digestive tract before you start the day is to drink fresh lemon squeezed in warm water on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. This will help your body wake up slowly rather than be shocked awake with caffeine as well as stimulate your digestive tract before eating breakfast.
Take your time to drink this and as you do so state your intentions for the day ahead, asking yourself what is your focus for the day and what do you want to achieve?
Your Personal Ayurvedic Journey
Ayurvedic medicine is very much focused on you the individual so make the time to connect with your body and listen to what it needs; ask yourself what feels good, what does your body crave more of and how does it respond?
The path to our health and wellbeing can be daunting at times but Ayurveda is a great place to start if you’re looking for a holistic approach to your health that puts you and your needs at the centre.