Ayurveda means science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science) and it is a holistic approach to health. For Ayurveda, the mind and body are connected and the most powerful tool to heal the body is the mind. To heal according to Ayurveda, we must expand our awareness and become balanced in our awareness in order to bring balance to the body. Here are a few daily Ayurvedic practices you can easily incorporate into your daily life to improve your overall health.
Since the body and mind are connected, meditation, which is known to calm the mind, naturally helps balance the body as well. It is a very important and powerful tool and, if practiced daily, it can heal a great number of illnesses, whether physical or mental.
You don’t need to meditate during 1 hour a day for it to be effective and to see serious improvements in your daily life (mood, health etc.). Even just 10 minutes a day is a great way to start. Try to practice mindful breathing throughout your day as well.
2. Tongue Scraping
At night, your body works hard to eliminate toxins from your body and a lot of the toxins are accumulated in your mouth and especially on your tongue. In Ayurveda, it is vital to get rid of toxins in your body to improve your health. By using a tongue scraper or even a spoon to scrape your tongue every morning, you will help your body detoxify by removing the bacteria accumulated on your tongue during your sleep. This will help improve your general health and your digestion because when your tongue is covered in bacteria it’s harder to taste your food, which leads to putting too much salt / sugar, eating too fast and overeating… all things which of course are bad for your digestion.
3. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is basically using organic coconut oil or sesame oil as a mouthwash and swishing it in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes on an empty stomach. This is a great practice to remove bacteria and toxins from your mouth and it helps detoxify your body, but it is also used to whiten your teeth. Like with tongue scraping, practices that get rid of toxins in your mouth are great to improve your digestion as well as help with other illnesses.
4. Body Massage
Ayurveda recommends the practice of massage for its many health benefits. If you can’t get a massage, this shouldn’t stop you because self-massage is just as effective. The practice of massage is called Abhyanga in Ayurveda and requires the use of warm organic coconut oil (or other) applied to the entire body and massaging every part of your body with circular movements. This helps lower blood pressure, slows aging, stimulates the lymphatic system, tones muscles and makes you skin soft. If you put a lot of love in your massage, it will not only be physically healing but will be great for your soul as well. It is a very healing practice that can be done from a few times a week to everyday if you wish.
5. Mindful Eating
In Ayurveda, it is not only important to pay attention to what we eat, but also how we eat. Practicing mindful eating is essential for a good digestion and for a good balance of body and mind. It’s very easy to get caught up in our daily lives and eat in a rush or while doing something else. But it is important to take some time to sit quietly to enjoy our meals while paying attention to all the flavors and to when our body signals that we are full. Eating mindfully also means chewing well each bite of food. Eating like this avoids overeating, bloating and other digestive problems and also nourishes your mind. This way, you will eat to really fuel your body and your soul.
Illustration by Lianne Middeldorp, Text by Sarah Lewis.