Ayurveda is a 5,000 year old system of natural healing. Ayurveda roughly translates as “science of life,” and it's wealth of knowledge touches every aspect of living. Ayurveda is also considered “the sister science of yoga.” The two systems arose together in India, and share many of the same ideas and principles. Two of the most important topics in Ayurveda are diet and lifestyle. We use diet and lifestyle habits to create balance in our body, by aligning with the rhythms of nature.
I’m recently started a practice of writing down my priorities at the beginning of each week; things that I wanted to accomplish above all else. This has been a super interesting practice for me, and has forced me to get in touch with my deeper desires. What I really want from life. I find that if I don’t do this I end up doing busy work, and spending time of things that don’t really matter to me.
I think when most of us think of Spring Cleansing, we think of food. Cleaning up our diet. And this can definitely be part of it. I am just finishing up a Spring Cleanse, which for me meant checking in with what I was putting in my body related to food and also to how I was spending my time, what kind of media I was taking in, and cleaning out my internal and external space.
Yoga asana for reducing Vata;
This section is intended to give you a sense for what a vata reducing yoga practice feels like, not to teach you. If you are new to yoga, find a qualified teacher in your area. For those who already have a yoga practice, this might help you explore the energetics of certain yoga asanas.
Ayurveda and Yoga offer straightforward and efficient tools for taking care of the body and mind. I’ve found these tools indispensable throughout my life. The most important thing I do when going through significant changes is to stay grounded. According to Ayurveda, Vata dosha is dominant during any change in life. For example, this can be a change of season, moving, change of job or relationship; anything that disrupts your normal rhythm. Vata is the energy of space and air, and the qualities of these elements are moving, quick, changeable, irregular, light, cold, rough and dry. For some helpful suggestions on how to transition through change with ease, check out the post!
Wondering how to stay balanced while you travel? I’ve been on three trips to India, and those are long flights. Usually the trip, door to door, takes 35-40 hours. During my travels, it's incredibly helpful to use Ayurveda to stay balanced, and, more importantly, prevent sickness!
It's helpful to refer to the elements when understanding travel from the Ayurvedic perspective. The five elements are Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. While traveling, the elements of Ether and Air are dominant. Therefore, we want to consider Vata dosha, as it is comprised of Ether and Air elements. Some of the gunas, or qualities, of Vata are mobile, dry, light, cold, rough, and subtle.
According to Ayurveda, we'll use the principle of “like increases like,” meaning when you have a certain quality, adding more of that quality will increase its effect on the body and mind. So, we always treat a dominant quality with its opposite. As an example, if you are feeling very hot, you would apply the opposite and eat cooling foods.
Ok, so knowing the main elements involved, their gunas, and the principle of “like increases like,” it's now easier to intuit what foods and practices might be most helpful for travel.
Here are my top 5:
- Nasya Oil
Since air is dry, particularly air in planes, it's super helpful to keep the nasal passages lubricated. For me, I find this practice not only calming to my mind and my breathing (nasya oil is filled with herbs that clear the nasal passages), but it also creates a protective layer in the nasal passages to protect us from catching a cold from another passenger.
- Sip hot water throughout your flight
Drinking hot water addresses several of the gunas associated with air; dry, cold, and light. Drinking hot water helps to deeply hydrate and nourish the tissues of our body. Drinking water is good, but hot water, in particular, penetrates deeper into the body tissues. Hot water can help keep us hydrated, warm, and grounded to counteract the qualities of dry, cold, and light. Bring a thermos with you, and ask the flight attendant to fill it up and give you a cup so you can keep it with you throughout the flight.
- Oil Massage
I always bring a three-ounce bottle of oil on my flights to rub on my feet and other exposed skin. Much like the nasya oil, putting oil on your body provides a protective layer over the skin and shields one from cold air, sickness, and even others’ energy (I realize this one might be a bit far-out for some of you). Oil massage is deeply grounding because of the oil itself, but also because of the effects of massage and loving touch that we can provide ourselves. Other effects of oil massage include reduced anxiety or fear and hydration for the skin and the body.
- Eat warm, cooked, and well-spiced foods
It's easy for digestion to get disrupted while traveling. Vata dosha, composed of Ether and Air elements, dominates during travel and this can create constipation and variable digestion. Your best defense is to eat easily digestible foods. Foods that are easy to digest are warm, cooked, and well spiced. When I can, I always bring my food—even something simple like a container of rice with ghee and spices. This meal is simple, easy to digest, and, with a healthy amount of ghee, it can help to combat dryness. If cooking my food is not an option, I sometimes bring a churna, or spice mixture, that I can put on food I buy to make it more digestible.
- Stay Grounded with your Habits
I try to keep up as many habits as possible while on long flights. Increased vata dosha in the body responds very well to routine and habits. My routines help to keep me grounded. For example, before they turn out the cabin lights on a long flight I do the nighttime routine I have at home. I'll make sure to brush and floss my teeth, have a cup of hot water with some triphala, and rub some oil on my body. These routines ground my body and signal that it's time to sleep. Keeping a few simple habits with you while you travel can help us get some rest, quickly acclimate to a new time zone, and keep us from getting sick. Each time I take this trip, the travel gets easier and easier. Doing a few small things can make a big difference on how I feel when I arrive. If you’d like to learn more about how to incorporate simple Ayurvedic tips like these into your life, join me in my next Ayurvedic workshop series!
Exciting updates coming soon. Watch this Space!