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Live an Ayurveda Lifestyle – Meditate, Ayurvedic Treatments and Sleep

by Aaron Hawkins(more info)

listed in ayurveda, originally published in issue 223 - July 2015

 

Ayurveda can be referred to as the Science of Life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It’s a health system, but it’s also a way of life. Living an Ayurveda lifestyle means paying attention to your eating habits and daily routine; keeping them close to nature and adjusting them to each season. 

Live an Ayurveda Lifestyle

The principles of Ayurveda say that freedom from illness depends on living in harmony with nature. The causes of illnesses are treated, rather than the symptoms, which is the case in Western medicine. It’s a holistic health system from ancient India that incorporates yoga, meditation, massage, detoxification and herbal remedies, as well as your daily diet. 

This system is built around the belief that energy is the ultimate resource and there are three types of doshas that make up a living being: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata is from the ether and air, Pitta from fire and water, and Kapha from water and earth; they’re present in all people, but usually one is predominant in every person.

Doshas affect your body shape, food preferences and digestion; also your emotional makeup and temperament. The doshas can become imbalanced from environmental factors or genetic inheritance; when this happens, the body loses its balance. That’s where an Ayurveda lifestyle comes in: it can reduce excess doshas and restore the balance.

So what is an Ayurveda lifestyle? It includes ways of living including eating natural food and avoiding unhealthy, processed food, walking outside as a form of exercise and to bond with nature and detoxifying your body with herbal teas. But this article specifically looks at how meditation, sleep and Ayurvedic treatments can help.

Live an Ayurveda Lifestyle

Meditate

It’s easy to understand why meditation is encouraged in many lifestyles, including outside an Ayurveda lifestyle. It’s simple to do and the benefits for your body and mind are huge.

To meditate, find a space where you know you’ll be comfortable and you won’t be disturbed. Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position or on a chair if this is uncomfortable for you. Close your eyes and be mindful of every body part, relaxing them as you move onto the next. Concentrate on your breathing - be aware that thoughts will creep into your conscious, but just push them away when they do. You can simply breathe or count or create your own mantra to chant as you meditate. Whatever you choose, this will be your focal point as you meditate.

Meditating mindfully is important, as when you focus on your breathing, your flow of oxygen and other vital nutrients around your body is improved. Even just sitting for a minute, closing your eyes and taking some ‘me time’ improves your sense of wellbeing. You disconnect from the outer world and tune into yourself.

There are more benefits if you meditate for longer and at set times of the day. Try to get up half an hour early or set aside 20 minutes when you get in from work. You might initially think you don’t have the time to do this or you’ll feel tired by not sleeping as long, but the increased positive energy will counteract this and you’ll feel more productive and alert.

Meditation also helps to conquer stress - a huge barrier for people to getting things done. Stress can impact your body too, causing an imbalance in your doshas. So take that time out and know that you’re looking after your body and mind. Achieving health, balance, and fulfilment as a result of integrating mind, body and soul is the real definition of health according to Ayurveda.

As well as building meditation into your daily routine - or perhaps instead of if you’d prefer to be more active - you can try yoga. Yoga uses the same breathing techniques as meditation and the end health benefits are similar. In our classes, the physical, breathing and meditation practices are woven together seamlessly so that your body increases in strength and flexibility and your mental focus and clarity of thought improves. Yoga is strengthening, challenging and relaxing all at the same time and it enhances your overall wellbeing.

Ayurvedic Treatments

As we’ve already seen, leading a Ayurveda lifestyle is hugely beneficial for your health and one way of doing that is through meditation - whether by yourself or in a group like a yoga class. But there are specific treatments you can have to contribute to your lifestyle.

You can self-administer these treatments, like a daily facial massage with oils, which is relaxing and great for your skin. However, it’s worth investing a little time and money into this lifestyle, as it can help:

  • Alleviate the symptoms and treat the root cause of all conditions to restore your health;
  • Improve your health and wellness by reinstating your constitutional balance;
  • Develop a diet and lifestyle that’s suitable for your individual body’s natural constitution; 
  • Cleanse your body and eliminate toxins;
  • Strengthen your immune system, which will make you more resistant to illnesses;
  • Help reduce stress and reverse the effects it has had on your mind and body;
  • Slow the ageing process;
  • Enhance your strength, energy, vitality and mental clarity.

So what kind of treatments can you have? From an all-over body massage with herbal and medicated oils to a massage that focuses on a specific area, there are many treatments for many ailments. Or you might simply want a relaxing experience, such as a hand massage, to soothe your mind.

Live an Ayurveda Lifestyle

Generally, you can choose from the following:

  • Ayurvedic Forehead Oil Flow Treatment: This treatment is unique to Ayurveda and is often called ‘The king of all treatments’. It involves warm oil being continually poured onto the forehead where the ‘third eye’ is located, and massaged in via a rhythmic movement;
  • Traditional Ayurvedic Face Lift Massage: This treatment prevents wrinkles as it relaxes the face muscles and stimulates lymph flow and micro-circulation in the face;
  • Ayurvedic Head Massage: The areas most vulnerable to stress - the head, neck, shoulders and face - are concentrated on in this massage. As well as releasing tension, it nourishes the hair and roots, while marma points [points in the body where concentrated life force energy is located] are massaged to balance the flow of energy;
  • Ayurvedic Ear Treatment: Herb-infused warm oil is poured into the ear to calm the mind as well as lubricate the delicate filaments of the ear;
  • Ayurvedic Eye Treatment: This relaxes the eyes and improves eyesight by nourishing and strengthening the eye structure with medicated ghee dough rings placed over the eyes. It’s perfect for tired and burning eyes;
  • Ayurvedic Nasal Cleansing Treatment: Warm, medicated oils are applied to the nostrils to clear and nourish the sinus passageway. Not only does this treat congestion, snoring and allergies, it relieves headaches, fatigue and stress-related ailments;
  • Ayurvedic Full Body Massage: This treatment is integral to Ayurveda as accumulated stress and toxins dissolve in the massage. It recharges and rejuvenates the body and mind, plus improves lymph flow, stimulates the immune system, and detoxifies, strengthens and revitalizes the entire nervous system;
  • Ayurvedic Energy Point Massage: This isn’t just a relaxing massage; this treatment promotes healing and releases physical and emotional blockages by pressurising marma points, which are specific energy centres;
  • Ayurvedic Herbal Scrub Massage: Using warm oil and finely ground herbs, this massage reduces body fat as well as eliminates toxins. It increases circulation, aids digestion and smoothes away cellulite, leaving smooth, silky skin behind;
  • Ayurvedic Abdominal Massage: Marma points are stimulated to detoxify the body, increase metabolism and so help with weight loss. It helps with digestive disorders and post-pregnancy toning;
  • Ayurvedic Back Massage: This is a massage that focuses entirely on the back and so is great for people with chronic back pain if a course of treatments is taken. It also helps stiffness in the back and shoulders and relieves stress;
  • Ayurvedic Herbal Bolus De-Stress: This treatment combines massage with sweating therapy. The body is massaged with packs of medicated herbs soaked with herbal oil. The sweating action clears toxic substances and is then followed by steaming. It helps those with muscular problems.
  • Ayurvedic Lower Back Massage: Sitting for prolonged periods can cause problems with your lower back, so this massage focuses entirely on that area. It also helps people with sciatica and nerve disorders. A dough ring filled with medicated herbal oil is placed on the lower back, allowing the oil to penetrate deep into the tissues;
  • Ayurvedic Neck Treatment: The dough ring used for the lower back massage can also be placed on the neck to help people with chronic pain in that area and for stress-related problems. The oils fortify the blood, build strong muscles and lubricate the joints;
  • Ayurvedic Heart Treatment: This treatment is incredibly relaxing and relieving as the warm, medicated oil that’s massaged in the heart region has a hypnotizing effect. The treatment rejuvenates the heart area but it also helps with negative emotions associated with your heart chakra, such as grief and fear;
  • Ayurvedic Foot Massage: Tired legs and feet are revitalized in this treatment but it’s also brilliant for increasing the flow of energy throughout the entire body as the feet contain key energy and nerve points. It eliminates toxins and improved circulatory disorders and is particularly good for people who suffer from stress and anxiety disorders;
  • Ayurvedic Hand Massage: Marma points are massaged in this treatment, intensifying the healing process for the body, while also being a thoroughly relaxing experience. This treatment is a brilliant one for those with joint pain and arthritis.

All of these treatments are offered at Samsara Mind and Body and are designed to treat bodily complaints and help the mind.

Live an Ayurveda Lifestyle

Sleep

Finally, a part of Ayurveda is something that we all do every day, but more thought needs to be put into it with an Ayurveda lifestyle: sleep. Go to bed earlier, for instance at 10pm, and you’ll rise with the sun. Awaking early means you have time to enjoy being with nature before the rest of the world wakes up. It also means you have time to make yourself a good, nourishing breakfast, rather than rushing around. Perhaps you could fit a morning meditation in?

An Ayurveda lifestyle means you become more aware and present in your everyday life. If you don’t sleep well, this will become obvious. Good quality sleep is incredibly valuable because resting is the basis of dynamic activity.

So plan your evenings to make sure you’ll get the best rest you can during the night. Have a light supper, make sure you’re ready to go to bed at 10pm - particularly by turning off the TV in good time - and use aromatherapy to help you drift away.

The principles of Ayurveda are focused around energy and balance; it’s easy to see that these three lifestyle techniques of meditation, Ayurveda treatments, and sleep are ways to make sure you do this effectively. Ayurveda focuses on the individual, so find what works for you and reap the benefits. Even if it’s just a few minutes of meditation a day or every night bar one that you go to bed at 10pm, you’ll still see a huge difference in your stress levels, energy, and overall mind, body and soul.

Photo Credits

Images reproduced with kind permission of Samsara Mind and Body.

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About Aaron Hawkins

Aaron Hawkins is one of the Ayurveda specialists at Samsara Mind and Body in London and regularly contributes to their blog. Samsara Mind and Body is a Ayurveda, yoga and massage studio in Wandsworth, London. Lead by Helena, the team at Samsara offer a unique and broad range of Ayurveda treatments and consultations. Aaron and Samsara Mind and Body may be contacted on Tel: 0208 874 4500;  admin@samsaramindandbody.com   a.hawkins@samsaramindandbody.com       www.samsaramindandbody.com   

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