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What the heck is Ayurveda, & Why I LOVE It.

05.31.16

Health

For as long as I can remember, I have been on a quest for health, balance, and to feel as good in my body as humanly possible.

That’s why I’m not lying when I call myself a “wellness junkie” — I am notoriously known amongst my friends and family (and now you guys) for trying it all, hunting down the newest + most raved about treatments, trying all the diets (we know I learned my lesson there), prioritizing workouts, being so much more of a morning person than a late night partier, and overall living that healthy, balanced life that makes me happy.

About a month ago I was at a dinner party for Carbon 38 (I’ll get back to this in a sec), and I was raving about Ayurveda and how much it’s helped me over the last few months. Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine, based on the idea of balance in all areas of the body. They use diet, herbal treatment, breathing, diagnosis of “doshas” (3 main body types), and more holistic + highly personalized and practical approaches in order to achieve that balanced state.

I started seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner about three months ago and what we’ve done together has rocked my world. It’s simple — we just talk about my bod, how I’m feeling, what’s going on in my life, and what I can do with Ayurveda in order to feel better.

I trust Ayurveda because it’s not a one size fits all type of approach — similar to functional medicine, the practice looks at the individual versus at the symptom / putting a bandaid on it.

It’s about living a truly balanced life, and not just medicating and suppressing the issue at hand.

A few things I’ve learned / incorporated

  • I’m a pitta dosha, which is the fire sign. (Are you surprised?) But currently I am an off balance pitta, and my vata (air sign) has kinda crept in and taken over. That has been messing with my digestion, skin, liver, etc.
  • Because I am a pitta with a rise in vata, I have been eating warm, nourishing foods to try to get back to that balanced state. That means a lot of beans, lentils, gluten-free grains, veggies, tempeh, fruit, nuts, and a bit of animal protein… all warm. Hugely diff from my usual diet because I am such a smoothie/salad freak!
  • Having a grounding morning routine. This one has been huge for me, because my mornings are typically all over the place and different every day. The morning routine my practitioner & I came up with is to not look at my phone for the first 25-30 minutes after waking up, scrape my tongue (a traditional Ayurvedic practice), brush my teeth, wash my face, and start the day with hot water, tea and meditation/stretching. It’s been life changing (albeit hard to get used to) and keeps me calmer and more relaxed during the day.
  • Herbs: I have been taking 1 teaspoon of avipattikar powder with warm water after breakfast each day to calm the imbalance in my GI tract. I like the idea of it versus medication for SO many reasons, and so far it’s been noticeably helping with digestion which is a huge plus.
  • Foods: Other than the warm, nourishing meals that I mentioned, I have also cut out coffee (crazy, right?!) and replaced it with tea, and now I am feeling myself moving toward un-caffeinated teas to boot! I’ve also incorporated a lot more ghee into my diet (clarified butter; healthy fat; great to cook with; dairy-free), as well as spices like turmeric, cardamom, and paprikaAND I’ve been cooking more at home… Which you know if you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat.
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A recent meal prep shot from Sunday. 🙂

  • Sleep: Sleep is highly valued in Ayurveda. I have been working hard to get enough rest, because when I am tired / overworked / under-slept (especially from my insomnia issues), then I really don’t feel well or function my best. I have switched up my routine a little to sleep more, and to go to sleep earlier / wake up earlier.
  • Restorative exercise: It’s not a secret that I am a total high intensity exercise junkie. My workouts usually consist of running, OrangeTheory, and power vinyasa yoga. With Ayurveda I’ve learned to slow it down once in a while, because when all of our movement is super fast-paced it can add to that high-anxiety, spiked cortisol, hard-to-fall-asleep, scatter-brained kind of lifestyle. That lifestyle is me in a nutshell, so I have to work hard to wind down and do types of exercise, breath and movement that supplement my issues rather than perpetuate them. (I will say this was the hardest part for me in the beginning, and has since turned into the easiest part — I have been LOVING it, and have been taking a million mini stretch breaks throughout the day. You’ve seen my Instagram yoga vids lately!!)

SWIM-59

  • Being in tune with my body: My Ayurvedic practitioner told me about the Clue app (and a few others on the market, but I like this one the best) that you can use to record details of your monthly cycle, how you slept / how you felt / how your cramps were, etc. It’s awesome for strengthening the mind-body connection, and also just being aware of how you feel — I am such a fast-paced nut that I usually don’t even remember when my period is going to start or end.

WHEW! That was a lot.

So now let me get back to the whole Carbon 38 dinner comment and why I even brought that up in the first place.

I was at the dinner, raving about Ayurveda, and the beautiful Suzanne Hill from The Chalkboard Mag said, “Oh, well if you love Ayurveda then I’m sure you’ve been to the Surya Spa in the Palisades? It’s amazing!” And then proceeded to tell me about a treatment called Panchakarma that sounded like it would rock my universe.

So, naturally, being me, I contacted Surya immediately & booked an appointment!

And now that I’ve told you ALLLL about my experience with Ayurveda, let’s save the Surya Spa story for tomorrow. I think you’ll enjoy. I went on Friday, and it. was. sensational.

More to come mañana.

ALSO, I am extra stoked that I’ll be learning a whole lot more about Ayurveda when I start my 300-hour teacher training with YogaWorks this Fall! I know my learning has only just begun to scratch the surface, so I will keep you guys updated on my Ayurvedic journey.

Have you ever looked into your doshas, worked with an Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, or tried diff Ayurvedic treatments?! I would love, love, love to know!! Any other pittas out there? 🙂