How to Practice Ayurveda

Curious about how to put this traditional Hindu health lifestyle into practice? These guidelines will get you started.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Meditate, do yoga, and perform deep breathing exercises daily. These practices are said to help purify the mind, bringing the practitioner well-being, peace, and wisdom.
  • Step 2: Do a special cleanse up to three times a year to rid your body of toxins. Known as panchakarma, it incorporates oil massages, steam treatments, yoga, enemas, nasal therapies, and a diet of spiced rice and mung beans called kitchari. Go to an ayurvedic center for all or part of the detox, which can last anywhere from five days to several weeks.
  • FACT: Ayurveda means "knowledge of life."
  • TIP: Make lunch your biggest meal of the day, and eat dinner by 7 p.m.
  • Step 3: Maintain bowel regularity – which practitioners believe is essential to good health – by eating fresh, unprocessed foods; chewing each bite thoroughly; and refraining from reading, watching television, or otherwise multitasking while eating. Your practitioner can recommend specific foods to keep your doshas in balance.
  • Step 4: Understand the basics. Ayurveda is based on the premise that life is governed by five elements – air, fire, water, space, and earth. Combinations of these elements form three basic life-energy types, known as doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha.
  • Step 5: Know your dominant dosha. Vata-types tend to be thin, get cold easily, have dry skin, and are susceptible to anxiety, insomnia, and constipation. Pitta people lean towards a medium-build and oily skin; they're susceptible to inflammatory diseases, rashes, and ulcers. Kaphas are the group most apt to be overweight and lethargic; they're prone to colds, congestion, and diabetes.
  • Step 6: Have your mix of doshas checked by a practitioner, ideally one with a degree in ayurveda from India; unbalanced doshas are thought to cause illness. If a problem is detected, you'll be prescribed anything from a special diet to herbal massages and medicines.
  • : Ayurvedic treatments performed by unqualified practitioners can have serious health consequences. Ayurvedic herbal medicines may cause side effects. Be sure to tell your doctor about any you are taking.

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