It may surprise you to learn that eating an Ayurvedic diet means you get to enjoy your food -- perhaps more than you ever have. That’s because true enjoyment comes from eating in a way that nourishes your body and mind.
Ayurvedic wisdom says that you should enjoy your food five times: planning it, preparing it, cooking it, eating it and digesting it (although we added a sixth way in our most recent Ayurvedic chef training: serving it). At each step, you have the opportunity to engage your senses to get the most out of the experience. Your food should look and smell wonderful. It should taste delicious and you should feel better for having cooked it and eaten it. A sure way to enjoy each step is to include Ayurvedic spices in every meal.
In nature, fire is the great transformer. When a fire sweeps through a forest, the ground is made more fertile and space opens for new sprouts to rise. But when fire comes too often to a forest, or it burns for too long, it creates a place where little can survive.
What is true in nature is also true in us. Pitta dosha, the fire element within us, has the power to transform. When balanced, its power can make space for new experiences to grow. When imbalanced, it leads to an inhospitable environment where nothing can thrive. Learn to tame the fire within to use pitta’s power as a benefit, not a burden.
By Myra Lewin
I recently worked with a woman who had experienced great health all through her life. Yet she had recently begun to experience symptoms associated with menopause -- hot flashes, weight gain and a scattered mind. After talking through her relatively balanced diet and lifestyle, we centered upon one small, but significant factor that was getting in the way of a balanced transition to maturity: an insulated bottle that she always kept filled with ice cold water.
From a distance, drinking out of an insulated bottle seems far too insignificant a factor to cause menopausal symptoms. But cold beverages restrict and weaken agni, digestive fire. Over a few years of using this bottle daily, the ice cold water had reduced her ability to digest food and life experiences. This created dosha imbalance and her health issues.
If you want to feel better all day, eat a breakfast that brings balance.
When you wake up in the morning, agni, digestive fire is low. Just like a fire that has burned down to embers, you must stoke agni gently to ensure its steady strength all day long. When the flames are stable, you will be better able to digest what you eat and experience with ease.
Breakfast means to break the fast, and it’s important to do so with care. The traditional Western fare of bacon, toast and eggs are heavy and hard to digest, weakening agni by expending too much of its limited energy first thing in the morning. This affects your digestion for the rest of the day, and, over time, causes imbalance that will lead to disease. Opt for a simple and nourishing meal at the beginning of your day instead. One of our favorite is steamed bananas.
Once you’ve discovered the nourishment that comes by including the right proportions of grains and other augmenting foods in your meals, you can begin to explore the many varieties of grain that are available. Each one brings new tastes and textures and allows you to access your creativity and tastebuds.
How did you feel after your breakfast this morning? Nourished? Whole? Grounded? If the answer is no to any of these, it’s time for a bowl of porridge.
The first meal that you eat after waking sets the energy and intention for how you will digest your food and experiences in the day to come. After a sound sleep, agni, digestive fire, is weaker and must be gently rekindled with simple, nourishing food. Grain, cooked into a soft porridge, is the perfect meal for breakfast.
If you want to experience lifelong health, make vata dosha your friend.
The doshas, or three vital energies, help us understand how internal and external factors influence your health and well-being. Each of us has all three doshas, just in different amounts. While any dosha can become imbalanced in us at any time, the dosha you have most of is the one that is most likely to go out of balance. When you understand your tendencies related to imbalance, you can avoid doing those things and focus instead on what makes you feel your best.
When you are feeling imbalanced overall, vata is often the reason. With the light and subtle qualities of ethers and air elements that make up vata, it is the easiest of the doshas to go out of balance. And because of the mobility of the air element, imbalanced vata will disturb the other doshas toward imbalance.
Legumes are a central part of an Ayurvedic diet. High in easily-digested protein, grounding and affordable, legumes have a lot to offer. We keep our cupboards stocked with a variety of dried legumes. Mix them with different grains and a 60:40 combination of augmenting and extractive vegetables and you can create a different meal every day of the month.
Don’t beans cause gas?
You peer into the mirror. There are new lines around your eyes. You see a few new white hairs popping out from your scalp. The universe is giving you a choice here: you can either resist the aging process with chemicals, surgery and fear, or you can simply accept the changes as a reflection that you, too, are a part of nature.
Everything in nature ages, including us. But aging doesn’t have to be scary (no matter what the advertisements may say). In fact, it can be a lovely, natural experience. And, by finding balance in your body and mind and embracing changes as they come, you may find that you can actually feel better with age.
Ayurveda and Yoga can serve as guides to help you feel stronger, more confident and secure as you progress in the natural process of life.
By Julie Burger
I used to think that I was treating my body pretty well. I ate organic food, was gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and enjoyed protein shakes daily. I had even stopped smoking (though I was still vaping, so not free of the addiction). Since quitting smoking had made me extremely constipated, I did daily enemas, which I had read was a healthy option. While enemas remedied the issue, they had a big impact on my life – imagine trying to date and explain to someone that you have to step out to do an enema.
But constipation was not a new experience for me. I’ve had issues with digestion throughout my whole life. I’ve also struggled with headaches and fatigue and was used to taking daily naps. I tried colon cleanses, gallbladder cleanses – it was always something. I spent too much time Googling symptoms and finding few answers. I thought this was how my life was going to be. But that was before panchakarma.