5 Ways to Introduce Ayurveda into your Health
Richmond Natural Medicine’s Nutritionist Lindsay Kluge demystifies Ayurvedic Medicine and demonstrates ways to introduce Ayurveda into your health.
Ayurvedic medicine has been gaining more and more popularity in the west with the introduction of yoga (a sister practice of Ayurveda), and with the increase in popularity of Ayurvedic herbs such as turmeric, ginger, gotu-kola and tulsi (holy basil) to name a few. But for quite some time, Ayurveda could simply not be supported by the current western medical model due to it’s comprehensiveness and individuality of treatment. Fortunately though, that is starting to shift.
Dr. Vasant Lad, a prominent and gifted Ayurvedic practitioner who was integral to bringing this system of medicine from India to the United States encourages the marriage of both Ayurveda and modern medicine for a holistic approach to medicine. He describes Ayurveda as, “containing the knowledge of nature, the scope and purpose of life, and includes it’s metaphysical and physical aspects – health and disease, happiness and sorrow, pain and pleasure. Ayurveda defines life as the conjunction of body, mind and spirit…and is an art to daily living that has evolved from practical, philosophical and spiritual illumination.”. Clearly, this is much more than symptom management with prescriptions.
Ayurveda takes into account the individual person, from their state of spiritual wellbeing to their dietary inputs to their environmental factors and their overall constitution (or dosha). Imagine your doctor taking the time to assess all of that during a 20 minute visit. That’s why Ayurveda is so special and so effective. The entirety of the person is assessed, and the individualized treatment is always changing as their health is changing. Nothing in Ayurveda is stagnant.
Ayurveda uses many tools for preventive health to balance and sustain a healthy lifestyle that, once understood and implemented, can make preventing disease something you do every day without even being conscious of it. Things like seasonal eating, lifestyle balancing for your dosha, learning about food preparation, and just developing consciousness about how your body is feeling are all common and effective recommendations.
Here are 5 simple ways to introduce Ayurveda into your health and lifestyle:
- Begin eating with the seasons. Seasonal eating is stressed in Ayurveda in order to keep us more grounded and connected with the world around us, and more in tune with the home that nourishes us. Our environment plays a huge and critical role in your overall health, and the foods that are available from season to season helps to maintain that balance, especially for the digestive system.
- Determine your predominant dosha, and learn more about how to balance that dosha and (more importantly), learn the signs and symptoms of when that dosha is out of balance. For example, a Vata person is naturally very airy and spacey and requires ritual and routine to keep them grounded. Excessive travel or fluctuations in their daily routine really throws them off balance, while maintaining a steady ritual and predictable routine helps keep them stable and grounded.
- Utilize Ayurvedic herbs to enhance and support your digestion. Ayurveda stresses the importance of maintaining optimal digestive health as a major preventive factor in warding off imbalance and disease. If we cannot digest and absorb foods optimally, we cannot absorb the essential prana (life force) from foods that keep us strong and vibrant. Our gut health is a major factor in modulating our immune system as well, and maintaining awareness of the foods we eat and how we digest them is key to warding off disease before it even starts. Simple Ayurvedic herbs to balance the digestive tract include aloe, turmeric, ginger, cumin, fennel and coriander eaten with your foods, or many into daily teas.
- Develop conscious lifestyle practices that follows Prajnaparadha – the Ayurvedic concept of imbalance. Prajnaparadha means that you innately know what is right, but you knowingly do the opposite. This is obviously a major contributor to disease and imbalance in the body. Examples include knowing you need to exercise but not doing it. Knowing you need to eat more vegetables but you keep eating “junk foods” Knowing you need to decrease your stress and get rid stressful things in your life, but you keep working yourself into the ground. The body innately knows what is right, and so often we choose to do the opposite. Practicing prajnaparadha helps to keep us aware that we have the power to make these changes, and produce positive shifts in our health.
- Do something daily that supports your body, your mind, and your spirit. These are the three essential principles to Ayurvedic healing, and all must be in balance to achieve and maintain optimal health. One cannot be ignored and expected to balance itself. For example, make sure that in addition to your seasonal diet, you’re also getting in a 20 minute walk to support the bones, joints and lymphatic system; you take time during the day to rest your mind by reading or enjoying pleasant music and a calm space; and you have a spiritual practice that you partake in daily, whether it be prayer, meditation, musical composition or whatever connects you to “your source”. The body, mind, and spirit all must be tended in as much importance as your prescribed medicines.
It’s obvious that Ayurveda is not just a simple medicine, but a comprehensive lifestyle shift that takes some time and focus to acquire. If you’d like to learn more about this ancient system of medicine, contact our office at (804) 977-2634 to explore Ayurveda with Lindsay Kluge, M.Sc, CNS, LDN.
About the Author:
Lindsay Kluge is a Clinical Herbalist & Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and received her Masters of Science degree in Herbal Medicine from the Maryland University of Integrative Health in 2012. She has been with Richmond Natural Medicine since 2013, and specializes in therapeutic holistic nutrition, circadian rhythm balance and sleep physiology, digestion, and Ayurvedic nutrition. She offers individualized nutrition and herbal medicine consultations that include meal planning support, custom compounded herbal formulas, nutrition guidance and general wellness support. Learn more about services that Lindsay offers at Richmond Natural Medicine by clicking HERE.