Ayurveda for Health, Balance, and Digestion

Kripalu School of Ayurveda

Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences, with roots in ancient India and rich applications in modern life. Ayurveda, the “science of life,” emphasizes diet and lifestyle choices to maintain health and bring balance to the body and mind, while living in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Optimize your digestion with these Ayurveda-inspired tips:

  • Drink a glass of room-temperature or warm water first thing in the morning.
  • Choose your food each day by identifying what you think will be most balancing for you that day—if you’re feeling cold, choose a hot option; if you’re feeling sluggish, choose something light.
  • Eat with the seasons by choosing foods that are locally grown.
  • Avoid iced beverages and cold foods, which slow down digestion and cool the natural heat of digestive enzymes.
  • Lie on your left side for five to 10 minutes after big meals. Ideally, follow with a 15-minute walk.
  • Make lunch the main meal of your day. Just like the heat of the sun, the digestive fire is strongest in the middle of the day.
  • Eat a light dinner between 5:00 and 7:00 pm. Allow at least two hours after dinner before going to bed.

Ayurveda and the Six Tastes

Ayurveda recognizes six tastes—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent—that are needed for optimal digestion, metabolism, and assimilation. Most foods are sweet, sour, or salty—flavors considered building, grounding, and nourishing. Most spices are pungent, bitter, or astringent—flavors considered cleansing as well as supportive for digesting heavier foods.

Experiment with using spices to enhance flavor:

  • Sprinkle a warming mix of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom on sweet dishes like breakfast cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, and desserts, or in black tea. Cardamom aids in the absorption of nutrients, cinnamon increases digestive strength without overheating, and ginger helps prevent gas.
  • Sprinkle a mix of cumin, coriander, and turmeric on savory dishes such as cooked vegetables, salads, grains, soups, eggs, and animal proteins. These three spices are anti-inflammatory and support healthy digestion.
  • Have a cup of tea. Sausalito Spice, ginger tea, and peppermint tea are all balancing for the digestive system.

According to Ayurveda, strong digestive health is all about skillfully choosing appropriate foods for each meal. Being aware of what’s happening inside can guide you in making balanced choices in food practices and bolstering immunity.

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