Ayurveda is known as the sister science of yoga, so it is natural that I am curious about it. This ancient Indian system of natural healing and balancing the body has been around for 5,000 years. That alone gives it more credence in my mind than the latest magic pill or diet espoused by Dr. Oz on national TV.
A few weeks ago at Main Street Yoga, my friend and Ayurvedic practitioner, Ellen Leonard, introduced us to some of the principles of Ayurveda. The herbs we tasted and packed into delicate teabags to create our own tea blend, the soothing rice dishes and, lest we forget, the rich, dark chocolate bars, were all samplings of a much larger body of science and medical techniques of which diet is one part. Ellen’s presentation made me want to explore the wisdom of Ayurveda. Plus, the timing couldn’t have been better.
Many of you reading this know that I am practicing the fine art of balancing a demanding full-time job with the full-time joy of running a yoga studio. I find so much pleasure in the latter, even down to the task of cleaning the floors. Those aren’t just any floors; they are the floors we share together during our yoga practice. It is a privilege they exist so that I may clean them. The balancing act, however, is beginning to wear me down. I do not feel vibrant or as sharp as I am used to being. I feel dry, literally, in the physical body and in my creativity. In short, I don’t feel like me.
In my own way I am going to turn to some of the practices I teach and have been introducing you to at Main Street Yoga. Ellen has put her stamp of approval on a recipe I found for a morning tea of warm water, fresh lemon juice and turmeric. If it doesn’t sound very appealing, it’s because it isn’t. The turmeric does not dissolve, so I must stir the mixture continuously as I drink it.
Almost immediately after finishing this grossly yellow tea, I feel a warm and soothing sensation in my belly, which is the seat of my body’s expressions of distress. The anti-inflammatory effect of turmeric, or more specifically of its pigment known as curcumin, has been studied extensively. Ellen suggests a similar elixir in the evening, this one with warm milk (almond, rice, etc.) with just turmeric, hold the lemon (this is a little tastier than the morning version).
Today I began an Ayurvedic cleanse. Unlike other cleansing methods, Ayurveda offers gentle ways to relieve the body of toxins. Ellen shared with me a recipe for Khichadi, the same one some of you received at our workshop. I have reprinted it below. Eating this dish, and only this dish for a few days, helps the digestive system regulate itself. The familiarity of the dish at each meal allows digestion to settle into a routine of breaking down the food and releasing nutrients into the body. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Lastly, it is time to reclaim my own practice of yoga and meditation. My balancing act has come at the expense of doing those very things I need to do to maintain optimal health. I hope my exploration of these Ayurvedic techniques encourages you to tune in to how you feel in your body. Perhaps following my exploration will inspire you to develop your own techniques for self care.
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