A Newb’s Experience with Ayurveda
Have you ever heard of Ayurveda? Personally, I’ve been lurking around the natural health scene for my entire adult life, so I had often heard mentions of this ancient Indian system of health and preventative medicine. But my knowledge of Ayurveda didn’t really go beyond a vague notion of its existence until I attended Miami Life Center’s 2015 Ashtanga Intensive, where we had an entire module on the subject with a delightful Ayurvedic practitioner named Jesus Caballero.
Our lectures with Jesus quickly became one of my favorite learning experiences of the Intensive. As someone who is very passionate about the body’s ability to heal itself, it fascinated me that Ayurveda seemed to contain a limitless knowledge base about the human body—all gained without the help of modern science. Indeed, Ayurveda is the oldest system of medicine in the world and gave rise to both Traditional Chinese Medicine and early Greek medicine.
According to the Chopra Center:
“More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life… It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential. Providing guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior and the proper use of our senses, Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.”
A few months after the Intensive, I returned home to Cocoa Beach and started taking some mentoring sessions with my teacher here at home, Dena Hall, in order to continue deepening my understanding of Ashtanga yoga. On our very first session, Dena assigned me an Ayurvedic morning routine that included:
- Tongue Scraping
- Oil Pulling
- Oil Massage
- Dry Skin Brushing
- Epsom Salt Bath
- Eye Exercises
- Abdominal Exercises known as Nauli
- Drinking Hot Water
(Click on any of these to learn more)
In my mind I thought, “Ok, this wasn’t really what I was expecting to learn, but I am open.” I’d heard of oil pulling before, for instance, but I always thought it sounded a little hoaky. I am usually not one to believe in something without either scientific research to back it, or evidence from my own direct experience. Nonetheless, I trusted my teacher and started doing my morning routine the very next day. To my surprise, I loved it! It felt like awesome self-care and made me feel energized for my day. I have been following the routine she gave me for a couple months now and though the novelty is gone, I still love taking time first thing in the morning to really care for myself, and it only takes 20 minutes. I feel invigorated and grounded with that routine in place.
Ayurveda is all about honoring the fact that humans are part of nature, and like nature, we have cycles--from morning to evening, and season to season. That’s what establishing routines is all about. I read an awesome blog post from Sarah Hutchinson recently that talks more about this… check it out here!
So, I am still new to Ayurveda, but many yoga teachers I respect have told me that it goes hand-in-hand with your yoga practice. I am starting to understand what that means, because my morning routine has caused me to be more mindful, centered, and focused, just like my yoga practice. It’s like a way of extending the lessons of yoga beyond the yoga room, and keeping that “yogic mind” going for even more of my day.
I am looking forward to learning more about this fascinating system of health care. I think there is something to be learned from pretty much any traditional system of medicine like Ayurveda, even if you don’t incorporate the entirety of the system into your personal paradigm.
If you’re interested to know more, there are tons of resources online. From what I understand, Banyan Botanicals is the go-to company for Ayurvedic products, and they have a TON of free info on their website. If you want to go more in-depth with it, search for a local Ayurvedic practitioner and set up a consultation.
Until then, it's always fun to determine your personal constitution according to Ayurveda by taking a dosha quiz, like this one by Banyan Botanicals. Your constitution helps determine a great deal in Ayurveda.
PS... I am in no way affiliated with Banyan Botanicals... ha! They're just one of the only resources a newb like me can point you to :) Hope the rest of your week is full of wellness!