2018 was the Year of Ayahuasca, 2019 is the Year of Ayurveda
For those of you have been following along, you’ve most likely seen and heard all about my experiences with the plant medicine, Ayahuasca, from my blog posts and ayahuasca video last year. 2018 marked the beginning of my intentional, authentic, deep spiritual journey and the creation of this blog. My goal is to take my readers along with me on my spiritual journey, with the hopes that my experiences and sharing will help and inspire them to start their own intentional spiritual journey. Or, if you’re already on a spiritual journey, to go deeper and try new holistic, non-mainstream, self-care practices. I view self-care and holistic health as the ultimate preventative care and path to positive emotional and mental health.
Ayahuasca helped me become aware of many things I need to focus on, such as self-love, acceptance and the importance of self-soothing. This year, I am getting back to basics with my own health: physically, emotionally, and mentally, so that I can continue my spiritual path and live out my dharma. I am working on balancing my hormones (without the use of birth control, which can be toxic to our body), reducing my stress and cortisol levels, and detoxing my mind and body. I am doing this with the help of an ancient practice from India, called Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda?
As Deepak Chopra so wisely describes, “We are living in a time where the masses are waking up to the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. This connection is not new, but rather an age-old wisdom stemming from Ayurvedic tradition in ancient India over 5,000 years ago. We are observing that our bodies are synchronistic displays of our spirits; that our physical health is a reflection of our internal state of being; that the way we eat impacts the way we feel.”
Ayurveda is known as a practice of healthy living, and as the sister science to yoga, is meant to be practiced together. According to the teachings of Ayurveda, oe of the main goals of yoga is to help us reach enlightenment and become more connected to our body and highest self. However, we are unable to get there if we don’t have a base level of health and balance. That’s where Ayurveda comes in. It’s an ancient science, philosophy and practice. The word Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit words “ayur” meaning “life” and “veda” meaning “knowledge.” Therefore, Ayurveda is defined as the knowledge of life. It is based in the knowledge that our mind and body are inextricably connected, and the belief that nothing has more power than the mind to heal and transform the body.
According to this knowledge, everything on this planet, including our bodies, is made up of five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. These are divided into three primary doshic constitutions:
VATTA (Air + Ether)
This is the wind Dosha, because it’s just like that — cold, dry, light, and ever-moving. Common signs that you are dealing with a Vatta imbalance can range from constipation, dry skin, dry hair, body running cold, not getting your period, hormonal issues such as amenorrhea or low hormones, anxiety, overwhelm, and difficulty falling asleep. In balance, Vattas are creative, energetic, and passionate.
PITTA (Fire + Water)
This is the fire Dosha, because that’s what it’s like — hot, fiery, powerful, and transformative.
Common signs you’re dealing with a Pitta imbalance can range from too much heat / inflammation in the body (heartburn, ulcers, hyperacidity), to anger, irritability, impatience, body running hot, profuse sweating, and being “hangry”. In balance, Pittas are sharp, focused and organized.
KAPHA (Earth + Water)
This is the Earth dosha, because it’s just like that — grounding, soothing, calm and heavy.
Common signs you are dealing with Kapha imbalance include anything from water retention, sluggish digestion and metabolism, weight gain, mucus buildup, coughs, colds, infections, sinus problems, allergies, sluggishness in general, and depression. In balance, Kaphas are grounded, calm, and nurturing.
Western Medicine’s Approach
Western Medicine treats each part of the body and mind separately, because it is based in the belief that our mind and body are separate. There are gastroenterologists for digestion, therapists for our mind, endocrinologists for our hormones, primary care doctors for basic health and check-ups, chiropractors for our backs, neurologists for our brain, dentists for our teeth, dieticians for food, etc.
An Ayurvedic practitioner will ask about all of these things, including sleep, dreams, nutrition and more, because they come from the belief that everything in our body is connected and the health (or lack thereof) of one organ impacts the rest of our body. From Sahara Rose Katabi’s book, Eat Feel Fresh, she says, “Ayurveda draws connections between bloating and anxiety, heartburn and anger, weight gain and depression, and offers ways to bring each issue back into balance.” Science is finally catching up and is now finding that just isn’t the case. Our mind and body is connected more deeply than we ever realized.
Discovering My Doshic Constitution and What That Means
A crucial element to Ayurveda is maintaining balance based upon our own unique mind / body type (dosha). I have discovered with the help of my Ayurvedic practitioner, that my Prakruti (my doshic constitution at birth) is a dual-dosha: primarily Pitta-Kapha. However, due to all the various things that we experience in our lives, such as trauma, mental health issues, toxin buildup in our bodies from food, everyday products, environmental pollutants, etc., it causes imbalance in our body and constitution. As of now, I am extremely imbalanced with Pitta (fire / water) and Vatta (wind / air).
I have personally struggled with dry skin, dry hair, hormonal imbalance, hormonal acne, irritability, anger, and anxiety. My practitioner is starting to treat my Pitta imbalance with nutrition and Vatta imbalance with lifestyle. I have stopped consuming anything that’s inflammatory: spicy foods, overly salty foods, citrus foods, nuts, coffee, black tea, and alcohol. It’s not necessary for Ayurveda, but I have also gone (almost completely) Vegan, and have cut out meat, dairy and animal products, besides fish.
I am also working on creating a more consistent daily routine, and simplifying my days. Vatta imbalance is common among people who have a flexible, mobile schedule, where each day looks different.
My mornings and daily routines are looking a bit different now.
- I am tongue scraping first thing in the morning–you can tell a lot about your digestion and overall health through your tongue!
- I am oil pulling in the mornings as well, which involves swishing oil in your mouth for 5-20 minutes, which helps pull out toxins–and can also help with jaw tightness / TMJ!
- I have been practicing abhyanga (self oil massage) after I shower with warm oil, which helps nourish my skin and organs, and promotes relaxation.
- I have been continuing my morning meditation practice for at least 20-30 minutes–which usually includes positive affirmations, gratitude and a manifestation practice.
- I’ve also reduced my intake of cold and carbonated beverages (La Croix), which are big no’s in Ayurveda. I drink hot tea throughout the day instead, especially now that it’s Winter.
So far, I have noticed that my mind and body feel cleaner, I am less irritable, and my anxiety has reduced. I have only been “in it” for a little over a month. I’ll post more updates on how things are going in the next few months.
Panchakarma is an aspect of Ayurveda, and a means for taking this practice even further and deeper, in a controlled environment. For lack of a better word, Panchakarma centers are like spas, yet they offer treatments you wouldn’t normally see at your local spa. They are extremely common in India, and are referred to as “hospitals” there. You can go for as little as three days up to 21. They offer personalized treatments based on your imbalances, such as four-handed massages, the use of many different oils, herbs, clean food during your stay, milk baths, yoga, meditation, consultation and even herbal enemas, or “basti” (optional) — all to help ease you into the ultimate prolonged parasympathetic “rest and digest” mode you’ve ever been in.
In my opinion, it’s the ultimate prevention. It’s like a complete detox, reset and recharge for your mind, body and soul. They highly recommend for couples who are planning to conceive to attend Panchakarma 3 months before conception, as that is when your sperm and eggs start to form. I plan to attend my first Panchakarma retreat in May, as a 30th birthday gift to myself. Can you imagine a “hospital” like this in the states!? Yes, please!
How To Get Started
I really loved the following two books (below) to get me started on my Ayurveda journey. The author, Sahara Rose Katabi also has a free quiz you can take, and a great podcast, called The Highest Self podcast. Banyan Botanicals has a lot of great products, information and resources, as well. And of course, finding your own Ayurvedic practitioner is highly recommended. I found my practitioner, Sarah Kucera, at the Sage Center for Healing Arts in Kansas City.
The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda by Sahara Rose
Eat, Feel Fresh by Sahara Rose
I look forward to updating you throughout the year about how this Ayurveda journey is going, what I’m working on with my practitioner, products I love, and any advice I have. Especially at the end of the year, I look forward to really reflecting on any changes I’ve noticed throughout the year. I hope it is as transformative as my practitioner and intuition describes.
Now I would love to hear from you.
Have you tried Ayurveda or Panchakarma before? Now that you’ve learned more about it, does it appeal to you? Is it something you’re interested in adding to your self-care? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below and I look forward to going deeper with you. Sending much love, self-care, and gratitude.