The surprising habits that promote good health…
Can you imagine your doctor telling you that you’ll feel better if you wear more orange or blue clothing…watch the sun rise every morning…eat more popcorn…and/or spritz patchouli oil in your home?
Most Americans would assume that their doctor was joking. But for hundreds of millions of people, most of them living in India, such practices from Ayurveda (the “science of life”) make perfect sense.
Derived from teachings that originated thousands of years ago in ancient India, Ayurveda asserts that disease can be prevented or even healed by correcting physical, mental and emotional imbalances.
Recent development: Even though Ayurveda has traditionally been supported by its incredibly long history, scientific research is now confirming the effectiveness of some of its key therapies, such as meditation.
WHAT’S YOUR “DOSHA”?
According to Ayurveda, three fundamental forces (known as “doshas”) govern the functions of the body and mind—vata (movement, such as blood flow)…pitta (metabolism, such as digestion)…and kapha (structure, such as bones).
Every individual has a unique combination of doshas—your prakruti, or constitution. In most people, a single dosha is predominant and needs to be balanced with an opposite quality. Example: If your skin is oily (pitta), you need dryness—such as eating more popcorn and toasted breads.
More about the three doshas…
- Vata (movement). People with predominant vata tend to be thin, with a dull complexion and dry skin, have a variable or picky appetite, get cold easily, speak quickly, sleep lightly and are creative but can lack focus.
- Pitta (metabolism). People with predominant pitta tend to be muscular, with a rosy or ruddy complexion and oily skin. They usually have a strong appetite, feel warm, speak precisely, fall asleep easily and are organized and focused but prone to anger.
- Kapha (structure). People with predominant kapha tend to be stocky or overweight, with a pale complexion and soft, moist skin, have a slow metabolism, feel neither too cold nor too warm and speak slowly and sleep deeply. They are dependable but can be stubborn.
The key to health: Because imbalanced doshas are seen as the cause of disease, Ayurveda teaches that what you take in through your senses can play a crucial role in restoring your well-being. Easy ways to balance your dosha…
One of the fastest natural ways to balance emotions is through the sense of smell, according to aromatherapy research published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. That’s because olfactory receptors in the sinuses are directly connected to parts of the brain that control emotion.
One of the best approaches to affect smell is with essential oils—the distilled fragrance of a plant. To bring the emotional tone of your predominant dosha into balance…
- Vata: Use a combination of a few drops of sandalwood and cinnamon.
- Pitta: Try a combination of sandalwood and rose.
- Kapha: Choose a combination of patchouli and clove.
How to use essential oils: You can opt for an aromatherapy candle or a diffuser. Or you can put several drops of each oil into a misting bottle filled with water and spritz the water—in your home, at the office, in your car and/or on your face.
Research from the University of Essex showed that images and colors affect our physical health and state of mind—from the violent and upsetting images of the daily news to calming natural scenes of trees, clouds and rivers. To maintain health and promote healing, choose colors for your home and office—and the clothes you wear—that help balance your predominant dosha…
- Vata: You need warm, stable colors, such as yellow, orange and green. Avoid or minimize red, white, blue and violet.
- Pitta: You need cool colors, such as blue, violet, silver and white. Avoid or minimize red, orange, yellow and purple.
- Kapha: You will benefit most from stimulating colors like red, along with other kapha-balancing colors such as orange, yellow and blue. Avoid or minimize brown and black.
No matter what your dosha, silence calms the mind and is a powerful tool for healing. To create more silence in your life: Watch the sun rise or set for 20 minutes…take a 20-minute walk by yourself…and/or spend at least 20 minutes every day not listening to the TV or radio or talking on a cell phone.
Ayurveda teaches that how we eat is just as important as what we eat.
Habits that aid digestion…
- Eat in a peaceful, beautiful environment. Eat quietly, without too much talking. Chew well, until food has a smooth consistency.
- Have only a small amount of liquid with the meal (no more than one-half cup)—and no cold or iced liquids, which may slow digestion.
- Eat until you’re 75% full—never completely full or overfull. Allow at least three hours between meals.
FINDING AN AYURVEDIC PRACTITIONER…
If you would like to consult an Ayurvedic practitioner, consult the National Ayurvedic Medical Association’s searchable database at AyurvedaNAMA.org and click on “Find an Ayurveda Professional.” (Be sure he/she has graduated from a school accredited by the National Council on Ayurvedic Education.) Cost for an initial consultation ranges from $100 to $150 and is not covered by insurance. Important: To avoid any possible interactions with medications or other conventional treatments, be sure to tell your primary care doctor about any Ayurvedic therapies, including herbs, that you try.