First off, what on earth is Ayurveda? The hard-to-pronounce practice isn’t as complicated as it sounds—it’s a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. “Ayurveda primarily focuses on correct diet, a healthy lifestyle, and the use of herbs,” says Genevieve Gilbreath, founder of Herbal Zap L.L.C., who’s been a teacher and student of Ayurveda for more than 20 years. If you’re feeling a little off, or experiencing high levels of stress, adapt some of these habits to balance your body. Gilbreath shared a few tips to help you reap the awesome benefits of Ayurveda without committing to the practice full on.
1) Never exert yourself so that you feel excessive strain
Find a healthy balance between working hard, remaining attentive to the exercise at hand, and keeping a sense of ease within the exertion.
2) After a workout, take a few minutes to relax
Wind down by walking for 3-5 minutes, paying particular attention to the rhythm of your breath and the stride of your feet. By keeping your attention on the body-breath interaction you relax both your body and your mind.
3) If you can, finish a workout with a short Savasana
Savasana is simply laying down on your back—the finishing posture from a yoga class. Scan your body and see what part your thoughts stick on. Then imagine that part of the body relaxing. As we say in yoga, “Where the mind goes, the energy flows!”
4) Perform a post-workout Ayurvedic self-massage
For best results, following up a good workout with an Ayurvedic self-massage helps to tone the muscles and move toxins on out of the body. Before your after-workout shower, grab a bottle of oil (try coconut oil). Start with the feet and rub in circular motions, always towards the heart. It can be as little as 5 minutes. Hop in the shower to rinse off excess oil.
5) Hydrate with purified room-temperature water
Reward your hard work with purified room-temperature water (much easier for your body to absorb) and a fresh, whole food seasonal meal. Eat things that are minimally processed and easy for your body to digest. That is the simple start to an Ayurvedic diet.
6) Balance your doshas (energies) with herbs
Herbs like ginger, coriander, cardamom, and black pepper help restore balance to your body by bringing your energy levels back to their proper states.
7) Maintain a healthy digestive fire
Herbs not only balance your doshas, or vital energies, but certain herbs also work to keep your digestive system working properly. “According to Ayurveda, a powerful digestive fire, or Agni (pronounced “ugh-nee”), transforms all that we ingest into useful energy. Using Agni-igniting herbs like ginger, black pepper, and licorice, we can maintain a healthy digestive fire,” said Gilbreath.