Wellbeing

5 Ways To Incorporate Ayurveda Into Your Life

By Jasmine Hemsley
20.05.19

Wellness and nutrition expert Jasmine Hemsley shares five simple ways that you can incorporate the ancient Eastern wellbeing system Ayurveda into your life.

Even though Ayurveda has entered the western vocabulary in recent years, especially within wellness communities, it can still seem daunting or mysterious and therefore unachievable or even irrelevant for modern lives. But this couldn’t be further from the truth! As a manual for humans to understand nature, realise that they are nature and tune in with nature, it helps keep us human in a highly robotic, scientific and technology-filled modern world. Not only is Ayurveda designed to enhance and simplify your life within your environment, but the philosophy already influences many of your everyday lifestyle choices. ‘Turmeric lattes’ (aka Golden Milk), yoga, energy balls, turmeric, almond milk, meditation… it’s all Ayurveda, baby! Keep reading if you’re looking for simple, intuitive ways to incorporate the ancient Eastern holistic wellbeing system into your everyday.

1.Create a daily schedule according to the rhythms of nature

While Ayurveda encompasses all aspects of life, it is actually incredibly simple and intuitive: one of the most important things you can do to find balance is to listen to what’s going on with your body, to take the time to tune in, to not overwork yourself mentally or physically, to check in with your digestion before you eat, and to slow down your thought processes and activities rather than jumping from one reactive task to another, overthinking past actions and future decisions and all the stress that comes with not living in the present. The philosophy of Ayurveda all boils down to living in sync with the nature within us and around us. In practice, this means following what is known in Ayurveda as a Dinacharya, a daily routine that is structured around the circadian rhythm of the Earth — waking with the sunrise, sleeping by 10pm, eating seasonally, taking your main meal of the day at lunchtime - when your digestion is at its strongest, and having a light, early evening supper for better sleep. It also means integrating small but life-changing habits, such as Tongue Tingling first thing in the morning, oil pulling, yoga, meditation, as well as creating habits that work for you as an individual to make your life flow more easily. Having a rhythm to hang your day from brings much needed support for the mind-body in a fast paced world.

(READ MORE: JASMINE HEMSLEY'S MORNING ROUTINE)

2. Keep your digestive fire blazing

In Ayurveda, your overall health and wellbeing starts and ends with your digestion. Keep your

Agni, or digestive fire, happy by privileging well-cooked dishes made fresh from local, seasonal, high-quality ingredients. The simpler, the better! Soups and stews are perfect to nurture your digestion, whereas raw ingredients and harder to digest foods like meat, beans, cheese, or too many different types of food in one serving, as well as prepackaged, tinned, frozen and reheated foods may lead to indigestion, sluggishness, and even anxiety and depression. All of these symptoms and many more are often a sign that your diet needs a bit of a revamp, and Ayurveda can give you the tools to do it. Another super easy way to help your digestion is to drink hot water rather than cold or room temp, which can dampen your Agni and impact your digestion over time, if not straight away.

These days the wellness movement is all about the gut and digestion — something that ancient philosophies have always recognised. In fact, in Ayurveda, the root cause of any disease is stress or poor digestion.

3. Tap into nature’s medicine cabinet of herbs and spices

Ayurvedic cooking includes many fragrant herbs and spices, all of which are believed to have unique healing properties, as well as adding flavour to your food. Often when we see or hear the word “spiced,” we imagine curries and foods full of chilli, but spices include a huge variety of bark, root, buds, fruits, flower parts or seeds from plants. While they are incredibly effective at both flavouring dishes and imparting health-giving properties, the spice combinations and amounts used in Ayurvedic cooking is not the blow-your-mouth-out experiences one might find in Indian, Sri Lankan or Pakistani cuisines. Think more fruit chutneys, chais, crumbles, cinnamon pancakes and fragrant stews and rice dishes. For example, turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and should be combined with black pepper (or long pepper) in order for our bodies to better assimilate it. Fennel seed tea makes a delicious post-meal digestive, ginger helps relieve nausea and congestion and boosts your Agni if it’s feeling low, and cumin helps reduce bloating and sluggish digestion.

It’s amazing the difference that mother nature's medicine cabinet of herbs and spices can make, simply by adding them to your everyday cooking.

4. Allow yourself a proper rest

This comes back to tuning in with yourself and the world around you. Naturally, our circadian rhythm means that the best time to go to sleep is sometime before 10pm, waking up sometime before 6am, depending on the season. Because excess blue light from screens and artificial lighting during sundown hours can impact and override our internal body clocks, it’s all too easy to ignore our need for rest and sleep and stay up late scrolling through our phones and flicking through the multitude of TV shows and movies on offer instead of catching those Zs.

But a proper rest isn’t just about getting a good night’s sleep, it’s also about balancing the yang of “doing” throughout your day with the yin of “being” — something we all seem to be very busy with! Make sure you take short breaks through your working day to ‘smell the roses’ and bring some calm in to balance the buzz. Schedule in weekends of complete rest with zero appointments so that you can respond to your needs rather than having to rush out of the house to another appointment, social or not. Carving out time for a one to three day cleanse and reset is an effective way to reboot any time of the year, whenever you feel like you need some down time, helping you navigate whatever life throws at you from a more centred space.

5. Practice meditation for a more mindful life

Try integrating a meditation practice into your everyday. This short but effective habit can make such an impact on your energy, your creativity, your sense of calm, your clarity of mind. It can help you sort through all sorts of twists and tangles that are going on in your life, and can make you a kinder, more present, more mindful person in general. If you take the time to listen and check in with yourself, you’ll find you already know much of what you need to be at your healthiest and happiest. Daily meditation is an excellent way to tune in, slow down, and process out some of the clutter and energy disturbances that we accumulate mentally and physically as we go about our day — and did I mention that 20 minutes of meditation is said to be equivalent to 3 hours’ sleep??? The practice is a pillar of Ayurveda, an integral part of the Dinacharya. Vedic meditation stems from the Vedas, the ancient Indian body of knowledge first recorded some 5,000 years ago — if you’re intrigued, check out the London Meditation Centre, contact my teacher Gary Gorrow in Sydney or my friend Susan Chen in New York or try the app Calm for a mixture of other meditation techniques.

Meditation isn’t all there is to mindfulness, though, and you can practice being mindful in everything you do. When you eat, take a moment to appreciate the food you have, to feel thankful for it, to savour the taste and texture of it without distractions. Brewing yourself a cup of tea is a perfect moment to practice being present rather than jumping straight on the phone while you wait for the kettle to boil and adding to the angst of ‘do, do, do, go go go’. Be mindful when you shop, too, privileging ethical and sustainable brands, as well as local producers and artisans. Mindfulness is a way of life, and it can have a ripple effect on your entire being and on everyone around you.

For more understanding of Ayuveda and tips and tricks to incorporate into your lifestyle to better take care of your digestion, which then takes care of you, read East by West.

 

 

Read more about Jasmine's journey into sustainability in her Life As I Know it interview.

Want to try Kitchari? Find Jasmine's recipe here.

5 Ways To Incorporate Ayurveda Into Your Life