By Brenna O’Dea
Let’s take a trip back in time to ancient India, where Ayurvedic healing practices first began. To understand Ayurveda you must understand two things: your body and your mind. Through Ayurveda we learn that the body and the mind are completely intertwined and in order to be our best selves, we must engage in healthy practices inside AND out. Ayurveda is all about healing the body and mind through movement and nutrition. This can include anything from adding yoga to your daily schedule to adding some extra spice to whatever you’re cookin’ up. If you truly want to live an Ayurvedic lifestyle all around, things can get pretty complicated, but today we are just going to go over the basics and empower you to feel and feast at your best.
A bowl and a spoon, basically all you need to enjoy a wholesome, healing meal made of key Ayurvedic ingredients. If it’s warm, full of flavor and full of healthy fats, it’s probably a good choice. Try whipping up this Spiced Vegetable Soup loaded with beautiful beets and gorgeous greens. This recipe has all the Ayurvedic goodies under the warming sun: onion, garlic, ginger, olive oil, cilantro…plants that pack a flavorful punch and also cleanse the system. If you are looking for something a bit heartier than a simple soup, kitchari is the dish for you. Kitchari is a warming, healing rice & lentil dish and the perfect opportunity to invite the little ones into the kitchen. This Cleansing Kitchari recipe includes plenty of spice…cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, turmeric…the list goes on. Spice it up for the adults around the table, or ease up for the picky palates in your family (we all have them!). Tiny hands are perfect for tossing the herbs and spices into the pot and stirring slow and steady. These balancing bowls will fill your bellies and boost your immune system so nobody has to catch that winter bug going around.
Drink up! Staying hydrated is one of the primary practices of Ayurveda. Hydration is essential for a healthy body AND mind. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again…drink plenty of water! Sounds simple, but it is oh so important. Not only should we be sipping on more water all day long (especially little ones!), we can also do wonders for our bodies and minds by switching from coffee to tea, and adding some super spices super foods to our cups. Turmeric tea is the perfect Ayurvedic addition to your morning or evening routine. Whether you are at your desk or on the go, prefer it iced or hot (we recommend the latter!), brew up a quick batch and sip on something special all week long. You can buy turmeric flavored tea bags at your local health foods store, or add your favorite REAL milk and some healthy-fat-filled clarified butter, or ghee, that will melt right in and add plenty of nutrients. Contrary to most diet tips today, when you get back to basics with Ayurveda, dairy is actually a good thing! Of course, it’s not for everyone, but many Ayurvedic diets include whole milk, yogurt, and kefir because of their probiotic-rich, gut-cleansing properties. So add a splash to your morning mug and reap those raw benefits.
Slow and steady surely wins the race with these Ayurvedic practices. Focus on feeling your best and choosing an exercise that works for you, and make sure not to push yourself TOO hard. Ayurvedic exercise principles are more about grounding and growth than sprinting that extra mile or swinging that kettlebell one more time. At this time of year, those new year’s resolutions might be beginning to fade and your energy levels might fall fast. Don’t fret. Now is the perfect time to rest and restore. Emphasize stretching and even sitting still. Adding some easy Vinyasa yoga flows and mini meditation sessions can get your body back on track in no time. If you do have more energy and February is YOUR time for fitness, opt for some Bikram yoga to sweat out ALL those toxins or go on a nice long run…wait for it…off the treadmill! Skip the stinky, stuffy indoor gym environment and choose the great outdoors! Your couch will still be there waiting for you when you return and I think I hear a cup of turmeric tea calling your name.
(Image by flickr member Janet licensed under Creative Commons)