10 Ways to start an Ayurvedic Lifestyle
Ayurveda can be overwhelming, and confusing when you first start learning about it. The practices might seem out there, or be counter advice to what you've always heard. How do you go about uprooting all of what you thought was true to explore this new subject?
That is where I was at when I first learned about Ayurveda. I still struggle with transitioning all of my practices to an Ayurvedic one, I just love my cup of coffee to start my day.
Well I want to share a few ways with you on where to start. I learned Ayurveda from a feminine form. Which means less rules, and more flow. I want you to listen to your intuition as you read the suggestions and decide what would be best for you to start with below!
10 Practices to examine
1. Your 5 Senses
This is one of my personal favorites as it's so easy to do for anyone. I have my son learning some of these techniques as well.
Taste- Try and taste the 6 flavors according to Ayurveda during your meals. The 6 tastes are- bitter, sour, astringent, pungent, sweet, salty.
Smell- Burn your favorite candle or cleansing smoke and relax. Which transitions nicely to the sound therapy next.
Sound- Sit in stillness for 5 minutes. You don't have to meditate, don't have music on, just sit down and notice what sounds arise for you.
Sight- Take cool water and place on your hands and rinse the eyes. The eyes are the seat of pitta and it's a nice calming and cooling technique to incorporate into your day especially if you're on the computer quite a bit.
Touch- Rub your hands together and slowly pull them apart to attune your pranic field. You can also pet your animals, or touch a plant outside and try to attune to their pranic energy.
2. Food Practices
Early, lighter dinners help you digest your food so you have a better nights sleep. How many times have you went to bed and you hadn't quite fully digested your food. You might have tossed and turned for hours as your stomach hurt.
In Ayurveda they suggest closing the kitchen by 6pm. In the western culture that might not always be feasible with people so maybe it's 7pm for you. Ideally at least 2 hours before bed.
Lighter foods are easier to digest. Think soups and cooked warm veggies. Meats are best ate during your lunchtime meal.
In Ayurveda digestion is king. Not snacking all day will help you keep your digestive flames firing. We want to keep stoking the flames vs snuffing them out.
If you're in need of a snack fruit is best. It digests the quickest and is best ate not with your meals. Stewing your fruit so it is cooked slightly will also help you digest the fruit better.
Eat fruit only as a snack
Once more Ayurveda strongly suggests eating fruit as a stand alone meal not with your meals.
The reason behind this is that eating fruits can disrupt the ongoing digestion of the food eaten.
Eating fruits after your meals can lead to fermentation in your stomach affecting your overall digestive health. It can cause acidity, gas, and indigestion.
Eat Warm Cooked Foods
Warm cooked foods are easier to digest. Room temperature water, warm teas vs a cold beverage which sends a shock to the system and puts out that digestive fire.
3. Start your day with yoga, meditation and or pranayama
Ayurveda suggests rising with the sun or around 6am to start your day with tongue scraping. Tongue scraping helps remove ama or excess toxins off the tongue.
Having an intentional way to start your day will bring you into your highest alignment. If we start our day feeling rushed, scattered, and out of sorts that is setting us up for a rushed, scattered day.
If you know what you need to work on (balancing a dosha) or an energetic need of the body you can develop an exact yoga, pranayama and meditation practice to suit your needs. If you want help that is something
Otherwise devoting more time to your meditation/pranayama practice if you feel ungrounded and scattered vs the yoga asana practice.
If you feel stuck or stagnant in the morning devoting more time to your movement practice and a little less to pranayama and meditation practice.
If you are more fiery or intense devoting equal time to the right yoga asana and meditation/pranayama practice might be right for you.
4. Time in Mother Nature
Mother nature teaches us how to live seasonally. She shows us how to release and start to go inwards to prep for the winter season in the Fall. In summer the sun shines longer during the days which helps infuse us with lasting energy. In the spring we see buds of flowers on the trees starting to come back to life ready to bloom.
Taking time to spend time in nature is a natural mood booster and how we are invited to align our lives.
5. Don't over exercise
Ugh, this is one of the hardest practices for me. Not over exercising. Exercising in Ayurveda is when you start to build a light sweat on your forehead than you should stop. If you go more than that you are depleting your ojas or vital energy. I've felt that many times. Some days when I have good energy and I push it too far I end up crashing the next week. Or getting a headache later in the day.
We only have so many ojas a day and when we blast through it doing an intense workout it does leave us feeling like we need that 3pm coffee to stay awake. Instead try adjusting your workouts to be at 50%. Any workout can be an Ayurvedic one if you're mindful of how hard you're truly pushing yourself.
6. Make space for activities you love
This is a question I ask on my Ayurvedic intake form. How often do you make time for the activities you love? It might seem silly or frivolous but it matters. What tends to happen is we might love to paint, or draw, or go for bike rides but through the years we stop making time for them as they are not making us money, they might not be activities where you're spending time with loved ones, and we deem them a "wish list" item in our life.
I want you to reclaim that activity you love and add it back into your life. It doesn't mean you need to spend hours a week doing it but even once a week how can you make space for it. If you have kiddos you're also modeling to them how to take care of yourself as we know no one else will do it for us.
7. Try and eat without working or watching tv
Why practice this?
- When we distract ourselves by watching tv, our phones, especially consuming the news. Our bodies go into fight & flight and cannot properly digest both the news and the food you're consuming. It might sound odd that something as subtle as that can affect us but it does.
- Eating lunch at your desk during work causes your body again to not fully relax and your bodies digestion can be affected.
- You can also see when you're truly full. Everyone always has a small belch when their body says they are full. Often it goes unnoticed so tuning into the body each & every meal. Slowing down so our bodies can digest fully.
8. Be mindful of what you consume
Not only what you eat, but what your sensory intake is. Often disease happens when our 5 senses are overloaded. We might be going from working at a computer all day to looking at our phones and scrolling in the evening. To watching our favorite tv show and scrolling after that. If we are constantly consuming we have no time to digest.
Vata imbalances can occur when we are overstimulated. If we are always consuming we don't leave time for creation. I've been guilty of this a time or too in my lifetime. I get stuck in the consumption phase whether that be tv, social media, podcasts, or even radio. Not leaving space for stillness or the emptiness that often brings the magic.
Maybe you need to create a bit of space to see where you need to bring more mindfulness around your own consumption.
9. Walk after eating
In Ayurveda digestion is king. That's why I have a few practices focusing on how you're digesting. Not only what you eat, but what you consume on a daily basis with your eyes as well. Taking a pause after eating dinner to digest your meal and your day is a wonderful family practice. No matter if you have a spouse, kiddos, or a dog. They will all enjoy the fresh air. This practice might not be able to be completed every evening as schedules are busy but when you get the chance to do this practice, or maybe you have a few designated evenings for this practice either solo or with your family.
10. Start small
If all of the above seems overwhelming start with a mid-day check-in around 2pm.
This practice might be the hardest to do if you're a fellow pitta dosha. Taking time out of your day to pause and do nothing. This practice doesn't come with a video as there isn't much to say. It's more about being.
How to cultivate this practice
Set a timer on your phone for a certain time each day, I like 2pm. It's a time to stop what you're doing and pause. Make yourself a cup of tea and sip it as you stare out a window and do nothing. It doesn't have to be a long pause but just giving your eyes a break from your computer screen, or from chasing kiddos around your house, or school books. I like to close my eyes and just breath even if it's just 1 minute. A few minutes to reset really does the mind well.
Another reason the 2pm pause is magical
In Ayurveda the 2pm time transitions from the pitta time of day (focused, productive, strong digestion) into the vata time of day. Which is the creative energy, lots of ideas but you might also start to a feel a bit unfocused or scattered. So pause to notice how this shift goes in your body. If possible going outside and Earthing where you put your barefeet into the grass is a wonderful practice to recharge you, just resist bringing your phone. It's you time, not check on emails and social media time 😉
What of these 10 tips stuck out to you? Where would you like to begin your Ayurvedic journey? Try a habit for a week and notice how you feel. Play the role of detective in your own life to see what works for you and what doesn't.
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Andrea Claassen is an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor, RYT 500 hour yoga teacher and Wild Woman Circle leader who has been in the wellness space since 2007. Her mission is to help people slow down, tune in, and connect with themselves again. Her favorite place to be is wandering through the woods with her family. Connect with Andrea on her website at www.andreaclaassen.com or on IG @seasonallivingmamas