Ayurveda, India's ancient modality of health and healing, is becoming increasingly popular because of its tried and tested health-awakening potential. The terms ayu (life) and veda (knowledge) come together to create "knowledge of life." Ayurveda encompasses simple, life-giving principles that extend far beyond just a holistically healthy life. If you want to be brimming with vitality and bursting with joy, Ayurveda holds the potential for positive life transformation.
I have in-depth discussions about the practices and science of Ayurveda with my students. But if you're eager to explore and adopt a few techniques before you really dig deep into Ayurveda, try incorporating these eight fundamentals into your life. Together they address body, mind, and spirit and will open you up to your own natural fullness:
1. Get up before 6 a.m.
For those of us who are not getting enough sleep, waking up early may seem like a contraindication. But early rising has multiple benefits, including resetting your internal clock. Waking at this time primes us for increased energy, improved digestion, and decreased stress and depression. You will begin to feel more cheerful and lighter. Try it and see for yourself.
2. Practice morning gratitude.
Instead of starting your day with a to-do list, which throws you instantly into the stress and chaos of life, wake up with gratitude. Quell the need to check your phone first thing in the morning by chanting "ohm" as you exhale. By doing this, you immediately become aligned with the universal vibrations. Some call it God. I call it universal intelligence.
3. Gargle with sesame oil.
Gargling with sesame oil is an immune-boosting practice that has saved my voice on more than one occasion. Just warm some raw oil, then gargle as you would with water for a few minutes (or as long as you can). Then spit it out. Gargle again with tepid water. Try to do this daily—once a week at a minimum.
4. Perform self-massage.
Daily abhyanga or self-massage for 10 minutes a day can improve blood flow and reduce stress, stiffness, and pain. It is deeply relaxing for both mind and body. I recommend using sesame oil, which is a natural anti-inflammatory and immunity-enhancing ingredient.
5. Stop buying bottled water.
Plastic water bottles are good for no one except the companies that produce them. Try boiling your water and then cooling it. This makes your water highly digestible and can help drain the lymph system.
6. Replace butter and oil with ghee.
Cooking with clarified butter or ghee is an easy way to aid digestion. Ghee is renowned for its immunity-enhancing anti-aging qualities. Plus, it has a delicious, nutty flavor. Try it for yourself!
7. Eat your last meal two to three hours before bed.
Late-night snacks and large meals too close to bedtime can wreak havoc on your digestion and make it difficult to sleep. Eat as close to sunset as possible and plan a few hours between dinner and bedtime.
8. Turn mealtimes into an event.
Most of us save our finest dishes and silverware for "special occasions." But flowers, candles, and fine flatware heighten the dining experiences and elevate the senses. Pleasure and joy in eating add an important psychological component to digestion.