Ayurvedic expert Sahara Rose, author of Eat Feel Fresh.
Ayurveda is the world’s oldest medicine from India, given to us by the same sages that discovered yoga and (like an Indian version of feng shui, used to build the Egyptian pyramids and some say, The Vatican). Although some aspects are a bit whacky, there is no doubt that the people who discovered how the planets orbited the sun, have real wisdom to share. An Ayurvedic doctor trains for years. Here are a few tips of wisdom that we can glean to relax and feel better, if nothing else has worked for you!
Only use Ayurvedic herbs with permission from a medical doctor, if you have health conditions or are taking medicine (due to contraindications). Avoid liquorice for high blood pressure and pregnancy (also avoid ginger).
Ayurveda is very different in many beliefs, to conventional medical wisdom. For a start, they believe all food and drink should be consumed at room temperature, rather than cold or iced. They recommend room temperature water or hot teas, rather than smoothies and iced water or juice. They also are not fans of salad! They also suggest drinking warm water to ‘clean out your insides’ (you would not wash dishes in cold water) rather than eating raw foods all the time. Digestion is easier often when foods are warm, they say. So it’s a bowl of stewed apples!
Although Ayurveda is a complicated science, the basics are that we are a mix of three doshas, with one being dominant. These are set at birth (your siblings likely have the same dosha) although you may develop imbalances of others as you get older. For instance, the three main doshas are vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth/water). A person could be born a fiery pitta, but ageing and life circumstances that make you a nervous wreck, may mean you need vata-balancing remedies instead.
What is good to follow is a daily Ayurvedic routine, which tends to be the same for all doshas. Choose which of these could benefit your life:
- Early to bed, and early to rise.
- Meditation and yoga.
- A body massage before you shower
- Taking your main meal at lunchtime, for digestion
- The saying ‘after lunch rest awhile. After dinner, walk a mile’
- Stop work in the evening, relax!
- Fast asleep by 11pm at the latest!
Remedies to Balance Your Doshas
The most difficult part is determining what dosha you are, without a specialist. Here are two beautifully illustrated sets of charts by Ambika’s Ayurveda, to hopefully make things a bit easier for you!
Vata is balanced with warmth and oil. So go for root veggie stews and soups, hot tea and comforting rice puddings and fruit crumbles with custard. Take gentle walks and do gentle yoga, in a quiet slow relaxed environment. Stay warm and wear grounding earthy colours like mustard, burned orange, olive and brown.
Pitta is balanced by pouring water on that fiery nature of yours! You are the best dosha to have salads and smoothies, and should avoid hot spices and alcohol. Take longer walks in cooler weather, ideally in the mountains or near water. Wear cooling colours like blues and greens, also good in home decor.
Kapha is balanced by avoiding oily foods, and eating steamed veggies, and fresh fruits over cream cakes! You are naturally lazy (but lovely!), so can afford to gee things up a bit with spicy foods and wearing bright colours to give you energy!
Books to Learn More About Ayurveda
Most ancient Ayurveda recommends butter and ghee (clarified butter). But in the new plant-based world, we need updated info. Eat Feel Fresh is a beautiful book by Ayurvedic expert Sahara Rose. Identify your dosha, then find 100 healing recipes to help. Learn how the season and climate affects digestion, and find contemporary twists to classic Ayurvedic dishes like colourful chakra soups. Bonsan makes Olive or Sunflower Ghee for plant-based versions. Use in place of butter, spread or toast or use to add richness to curries.
Essential Ayurveda: What It Is And What It Can Do For You is a lovely little book (on recycled paper) by an Indian journalist. It’s a few years old, but has never been bettered. Learn what it is, what your dosha is, then find simple tips to help. Also read Shubrha’s other book Radiant Body, Restful Mind that is a dip-in book of ideas of Ayurvedic-inspired self-care.
Simple Ayurvedic Beauty Tips
Ayurvedic Head Massage for Beginners is a beautifully illustrated guide offering tips on how to use head massage to help you sleep, reduce stress and muscle tensions, and promote blood circulation to the head and hair. The book includes safety cautions in the neck and head area, and caution on herbal infused oils. You’ll discover your dosha, and then find marma points to massage.
Many Ayurvedic remedies use essential oils. Avoid these for pregnancy/nursing (and medical conditions like epilepsy and asthma). Avoid rosemary & citrus oils for high blood pressure. Avoid shea butter for latex allergies.
Alternative by Suma soap contains oils of patchouli, sandalwood, lime, ginger, holy basil and turmeric. This bar is not just vegan but free from palm oil too. Sold in most indie health stores, or buy online. Store on a slatted soap dish between uses, to avoid it going squishy.
From Supermodel to Ayurvedic Guru
Want to know more? Then visit Inspire Living, a nice site by Yogi Cameron and his beautiful wife Yogini Jaima. Together they offer lots of inspiring videos (including meditation and yoga classes), all on a pay-what-you-want basis, so you can just give a one-time contribution if on a tight budget, with the hopeful good karma of paying more later on, to let others on low incomes benefit.
If you think you recognise them, you’d be right. Yogi Jaima used to be a Hollywood actress and Yogi Cameron is a British-Iranian who was discovered in the street, when he had to come to England during the Iranian war. He’s the man in Madonna’s Express Yourself video. But after travelling the world and getting jaded from the superficial world, he gave it all up to go to India to train in yoga and Ayurveda. His friend Jaima was on her own path, and they met up and got married!