For the first time in history, we are globally linked in a joint effort to streamline healing energies and focus on individual self care, with conscious consideration for our community. It is our Dharma, or purpose at Kerala Ayurveda to share the ancient principles to ensure we may hold the right space for harmony. We are blessed to have many resources in the Ayurvedic system for strengthening the mind and body. Today, more than ever, this holistic approach is essential as a preventive health measure.
A holistic view of health
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda or the science of life, is a system of well-being. It addresses all levels of existence: mind, body and spirit. It’s not just a system for individual human health, but for the family, community and entire cosmos. In fact, Ayurveda guides us with the principle that we and nature are the same. We are born from nature, and receive all life-sustaining energy from nature. Everything in nature is made up of the same fundamental materials, energies and consciousness. All of the healing methodologies within Ayurveda are rooted in this simple, yet profound principle.
A definition of health according to Ayurveda
Samadoshaha samagnischa samadhatumalakriya
Prasannatmendriyamanaha swastha ityabhidheeyate
According to the Vedic texts, the ancient documentation of Ayurveda, “wellness” is defined as the state of:
- Balanced functional energies
- Balanced digestive & metabolic fires
- Balanced tissue nourishment
- Balanced elimination
- Pleasant senses, mind and soul
The principles of Agni and Ojas help to further define this definition.
Agni – digestive strength
The human system is in a constant flux. Energy is received, transformed, and output in a constant dance with the elements. In order to convert and utilize energy optimally, digestive strength, or Agni is essential. It not only processes food in the digestive system, but also transforms that food into new tissues, and helps to burn through toxic build up. As the Vedic quote above explains, balanced metabolic fire, tissues and excretions are all fundamental to well-being.
Ojas – the supreme glow of health
The result of strong Agni is Ojas, or vitality. Ojas is the expression of optimum balance in nutrition, elimination and mind. It is synonymous with the “healthy glow” attributed to healthy individuals. Strong Ojas signifies inner harmony, strong digestion and immunity. It functions like a protective shield for the entire system, mind, body and spirit.
Every moment of every day, we are evolving with the nature around us, including microorganisms. To maintain health and harmony within, we must also establish the same health and harmony with nature’s elements around us. When a global health crisis occurs for humanity, this is a warning to us that disharmony in both ourselves and nature is occurring. Since there is no separation between nature and our internal system, an upset in our microbiome indicates a larger planetary imbalance. Fortunately, nature can continue to evolve with us, and offers us all the resources needed to strengthen our Agni and Ojas for healing.
Lifestyle rituals for well-being
All of nature functions through rituals. Sunrise, sunset, tides and seasons are all examples of these rhythms. The closer you align with nature’s inherently balanced rhythms, the more balance you can experience in your own life.
Manage the mind with meditation
Supporting the mind and body are both equally important for well-being, as they directly impact each other. Meditation is an excellent way to prevent stress, as well as a tool for minimizing stress after it has already surfaced. There are many guided audio and video meditations available online which you can do at home, even as a beginner.
Breathwork for relaxation
Breath is the most vital nutrient for the human system, yet improper breathing is the common state of most individuals. How often do you take deep breaths? How often do you notice your breath? Take opportunities throughout your day to simply draw awareness to your breath and slow down, even for just a minute or two. Such mindful breathing has an instantly calming effect on the mind and body. You may also try traditional Pranayama or breathing practices such as alternate nostril breathing.
From the time you wake up to when you sleep again, your hours are filled with wear and tear. This is simply the reality of living, but the natural rhythm of sleep provides the antidote. Sleep is when the mind and body complete the day’s digestion and detoxification processes. Without adequate sleep, these processes remain incomplete, and contribute to toxicity and stagnation in the days to follow. According to Ayurveda, best sleep practices include:
- Regular sleep schedule, optimally during the night
- Avoiding late nights, which creates weakness
- Avoiding daytime sleep, which can increase stagnation
Nature offers us thousands of spices to support our well-being. Ginger, cumin and turmeric are examples of commonly used spices you can incorporate into your day for boosting Agni and Ojas. Traditional Ayurvedic products like Guduchi (single herb), Rasayana and Ojas (Kerala Ayurveda signature formulations) are also beneficial for supporting overall wellness.
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Minimize stress exposure
“Stress” according to Ayurveda includes both mental and physical factors. Stress can contribute to weakened immunity, maldigestion, anxiety and overall imbalance. Examples of stressors are:
- Eating food which is difficult to digest
- Thinking negatively about others and self judgment
- Overexerting oneself mentally or physically
- Harsh words spoken or heard
While these factors all contribute to stress, the true source of stress itself is not about the outside world, but how we react to it. Lightness of mind and heart create space for harmony from within, which supports strong Agni and Ojas. This is why all of the above lifestyle practices are recommended as daily preventive health measures. They all contribute to strong Agni and Ojas, which can improve your capacity to manage stress.
Clean up your diet
Just as everything in nature works in cyclic rhythms, the human body also has a circadian rhythm. A balanced, regular schedule of eating with wholesome foods is crucial for well-being. Ayurveda recommends maintaining a regular schedule, as your metabolism depends on a regular schedule for optimal functioning. Additional healthy eating tips include:
- Minimize cold and raw foods
- Opt for easy-to-digest, moist and warm foods
- Sip warm water to stimulate Agni
- Stay well hydrated
Bloom the lotus within
Our logo includes a white and yellow lotus which grows in the region of Kerala, India, where traditional Ayurveda has been practiced for thousands of years. The lotus is an epitome of our human potential. Born from the dirt, growing through muddy water, the lotus still blooms brilliantly. It spreads its beautiful fragrance and pleasantness to everything around it. It smiles at you. This is a time to hold yourself as the lotus, blooming forth the same pleasantness, compassion and love from your heart. If we each can individually bloom the lotus from within, we can grow together a global lotus – a strong, vibrant and healing consciousness.