You’re Already Practicing Ayurveda If …

It was love at first sleep when my partner told me that he goes to bed early and wakes up early. (Dating someone like me, who has a dedicated Ayurvedic daily routine, can be difficult for someone who is on…well…a different routine.) Essentially, Steve was already practicing aspects of Ayurveda, he just didn’t use the language of this 5,000-year-old Indian health science to describe his reality.

Maybe you are already practicing Ayurveda, too!

The classical Ayurveda treatise provides practices to maintain health in the healthy and treat disease in the unwell. You may be a healthy person who has a balanced routine that follows the rhythms of the sun, the moon, nature, and life cycles. If so, then you are likely practicing some aspects of Ayurveda.

You know you're living an Ayurvedic lifestyle if you do any of the following practices:

  1. Get up early—around sunrise, not 9:00 am "early." Ayurveda recommends getting up around sunrise. This allows time for practices to support a balanced mind and body.
  2. Move in the morning. If you exercise or do yoga or dance or walk your dog or climb a mountain or go to the gym not long after getting up, you are moving during the Ayurveda-approved time of day. Morning is the best time to exercise, to create circulation after lying down all night. Bonus: Morning exercisers are more likely to be lifelong exercisers.
  3. You meditate in the morning or afternoon. Or meditate at all. The practice of meditation is part of a daily Ayurvedic routine.
  4. You scrape your tongue. If you wake up in the morning, look at your tongue and think “eew” and proceed to remove the coating that mysteriously appears overnight, then you are doing a good Ayurvedic thing.
  5. You massage oil into your skin. Not lotion, but oil. Ayurvedic massage, called abhyanga, is a classical practice to moisturize the skin, calm the nervous system, and move the lymph. It’s considered the fountain of youth in Ayurveda. Forget the botox; go for the oil.
  6. Eat a small breakfast, big lunch, and small supper without snacking in between. If you go all day eating handfuls of almonds and then come home and crush a filet mignon, you are likely not following an Ayurvedic lifestyle. But, if you have a breakfast that keeps you satiated until lunch and a large relaxing lunch that keeps you full until a light supper—without snacking in between meals—you are following an Ayurvedic lifestyle practice.
  7. You go to bed before 10:00 pm or two hours after sunset. Yes, two hours after sunset is 6:00 pm in wintertime in the Northeast—so if you’re tired at 6:00 pm in the middle of January, go to bed. Basically, go to bed when you’re tired. And get off the electronics at least one hour before you want to be asleep. Screens are keeping us up way too late and depriving us of the most restorative sleep, which happens between 8:00 pm and 2:00 am.
  8. You don’t drink iced beverages. Ice puts out the digestive fire and can create gas, bloating, heartburn, and indigestion, according to Ayurveda. In the hot months and in hot climates, drink room-temperature water, and drink warm water in the cold months and in cold climates.
  9. You cook your own meals. From 2015 to 2016, for the first time in history, Americans spent more money at bars and restaurants ($54.857 billion) than they did on groceries ($52.503 billion). And, we have the highest obesity and diabetes rates in history. If you feel at your best when you cook your own foods, it’s because they are best for you. Ayurveda likes you to eat at home, where you can prepare a meal that is fresh and made with love.
  10. You intentionally get out into nature. It turns out, according to current science, that getting out in nature is good for our health. As mammals who originated outside four walls, it’s vital for us to remember that intimate connection.

Now, you don’t have to do all the practices above to live an Ayurvedic lifestyle. If one jumps out as you as one you want to start, go for it! Even one of these practices can promote a little more balance in your life.

Find out about upcoming programs in the Kripalu School of Ayurveda.

© Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved. To request permission to reprint, please email editor@kripalu.org.

Erin Casperson, Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, is passionate about sharing how the ancient practices of Ayurveda can be applied to modern-day living.

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