By Lisa Åkesson Stryker
I used to think Ayurveda was just a whole lot of rules to follow. When I first grasped the basic concepts of this ancient Indian science, my perfectionism quickly took over. “I can’t eat this, or do that. I cannot combine those foods or cook that way,” were thoughts that went through my head. It took me a while to get over myself and to accept that I do my best at every given moment, and that it is enough. This, I think, is one of the most important things to remind friends and family interested in Ayurveda. Otherwise it just becomes another thing on our to-do list.
To me, Ayurveda is a way to find balance and live sustainably. When I see the wonderful effects my new ways have on my mind, body and spiritual life, Ayurveda becomes a choice that is easier to make. It has some guidelines, sure, but it doesn’t mean I’m not free to choose. It gives me clarity so I can choose consciously, and makes a connection between the cause and the effect.
For example, I used to eat a lot of raw apples and would often have a very upset stomach. I never made the connection between the raw food and my indigestion. Ayurveda helped me shine a light on that, so I was able to observe the effect the apples had on me. Since I had the guidelines, I could experiment on myself, and eventually found that cooked apples make my digestion much happier. It is a pure and simple science experiment that I’m in control of. The gentle signals from your body tell you to stop doing what you used to do if you want different results.
This means that I put the control over my body and health back in my hands. With Ayurveda, I can keep my body healthy and balanced, so indigestion and imbalance don’t creep in. That way I can easily absorb my food and impressions, and with lightness discard any waste or toxins from my body. Living a human life full of surprises and changes, I’m not always able to achieve this ultimate balance, but at least I have the tools to do my best and be prepared for what comes with some margins.
Another important aspect of finding balance with Ayurveda, is the way we eat. We place a lot of focus on what we eat today, and that’s important too, but also consider how you eat. Are you standing up? Eating while walking? Or while reading the news on your phone? Do you feel rushed and stressed through your meals? Or forget to chew your food?
Ayurvedic eating and living assures that what we consume we will digest well by creating an environment that brings balance. If you have a lot on your plate in life, make sure your mealtime creates some counterbalance. Sit down, turn off your phone, close your eyes and chew your meal. Notice what it brings to you, and open up fully to receive the nourishment. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
When a friend or family member is interested I think the easiest way to explain this way of living, is to lead by example. That way I open up a discussion if the friend asks why I do things a certain way, and let my results speak for themselves. I have found that unsolicited advice or comments on friend’s food choices never go down well.
For example, I aim to cook most of my meals myself, and I often get curious questions when I open my steaming thermos at work. This has started many refreshing conversations over food and health. I usually explain how Ayurveda has helped me find the importance of balance of the gurvadi gunas (the opposites). For example, if we have to much heat, we need to cool down. On the other hand, if our hands and feet are cold, we need warmth and grounding through our food, lifestyle choices and activities.
Another example of my digestion becoming stronger and more balanced with Ayurveda is the health of my skin. I used to have prominent problems with acne, and they pretty much disappear when I live and eat the way I now choose to. Ayurvedic herbs and easily digested meals in combination with a low sugar diet has been a blessing and cure. I know now exactly what causes my problems and what to do so I can be free of them. I often get questions about this and I gladly share my experience and how I got help.
Another lovely way to spark an interest is to cook an Ayurvedic meal for a friend. I love sharing food with others! It’s also very simple and you can find loads of delicious recipes on the Hale Pule blog and in Myra Lewin’s book, Simple Ayurvedic Recipes. The Ayurvedic meals bring balance to us by grounding and nourishing us while also cleansing and extracting what we don’t need anymore. The balance between these two counter forces is a great help to our well-being.
So I have fun while learning about myself and Ayurveda. The word itself means “the science of life,” and it is also the science of me and my body. I see it as a learning experience that never ceases to surprise me. A never-ending adventure into my own health and longevity, that I intend to continue to explore.
Lisa Åkesson Stryker grew up in Sweden and started a career as a fashion model in her late teens. In 2015 she completed her 200-hour Raja yoga training at Hale Pule and her Ayurvedic Health Consultant training in Sweden. In the summer of 2016 she certified as an Ayurvedic chef with Hale Pule, and immediately completed a residency thereafter. Since then she’s been teaching Yoga and Ayurveda in the USA, Europe, and Africa. She’s currently based in Hamburg, Germany where she regularly offers cooking classes, Yoga classes, workshops, Ayurvedic treatments and consultations.
You can follow and contact Lisa at @areyouvedic on Instagram, Facebook or through her homepage www.areyouvedic.co.uk.