Stressed, tired, run down? Who isn’t. This ancient Indian modality could help you feel like ‘you’ again.
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Ever heard of a little thing called the Coronavirus? We thought you might have. Thanks to this all-encompassing global pandemic, stress and uncertainty are at an all time high. It’s normal to feel a little bit off-kilter right now, as we wade through the sh*tfight that is 2020.
These feelings of prolonged stress will feel familiar to a lot of millennials. Dubbed the ‘burnout generation’ by Anne Helen Petersen’s viral Buzzfeed article, this demographic of 23-39 year olds has a word hard, play fast philosophy – with little time for anything that won’t help them climb the corporate ladder. Short term, this lack of work-life balance is fine. But long term? Not so much. It’s all fun and games until someone develops an anxiety disorder. However, the antidote to this work, work, work mentality has been right before our eyes this whole time: allow us to introduce you to Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda?
According to Anjum Anand, a British food writer who specialises in the Ayurvedic diet, Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science on how to be healthy: “It comes from the same body of text as yoga and meditation. It covers both preventative and curative medicine and is still practised in India today.”
“Ayurveda was outlawed by the British when they came to India as a backward form of medicine but it only went underground and has had a resurgence over the last 30 years. Ayurveda is perhaps most useful as a preventative tool and explains how the body works with regard to food and lifestyle choices. Ayurveda puts the responsibility for your health in your own hands and gives you the tools to get there. I have been interested in Ayurveda for nearly 20 years and still think it is the most helpful science when it comes to understanding the body.”
What is an Ayurvedic lifestyle?
So… how does one incorporate the principles of Ayurveda into their life? Obviously following an Ayurvedic diet is one thing but there’s more to it than that.
Shrankhla Holecek founded UMA Oils to help men and women cultivate a better mind-body balance. “I believe the need for treatments that come from ancient medicine such as Ayurveda are growing because people are desperate to seek solutions that go deeper than solving for mere symptoms of anxiety or poor sleep,” Holecek tells Gritty Pretty. “The demands on our time and performance have grown manifold both professionally (how many of us don’t feel the urgency of responding to an email on our phones within minutes of receiving it?) and personally (being a good parent has quickly become about sending your child to the most competitive school or ensuring they’re in at least several after-school activities). You’re spending less time checking in with yourself, and many of us are far out of balance by the time we realise it.”
To live an Ayurvedic lifestyle is to seek out a better mind, body and spirit connection. This could mean yoga and meditation, incorporating Ayurvedic foods (think: turmeric and ghee), recipes, holistic skin care, aromatherapy and an overall desire to slow down.
If stress or anxiety is your problem, Ayurvedic practices – including yoga and breathing meditation – can help tackle the source of the issue. Whereas often, in Western society, we look for a quick fix, short-term solution. “As the world gets smaller and information more readily available, people are starting to explore Ayurveda from a scientific lens and evaluating its merits (and discovering a body of practical solutions mired in centuries of experience and results),” Holecek continues. “This is helping the age-old science emerge from the shadows of skepticism into mainstream acceptance. However, most importantly, I believe people are seeing results and starting to trust their minds and bodies, thanks to these results they’re seeing; interestingly, this is also a core tenet of Ayurveda. It promises results – tangibly, sustainably, and backed by 5,000 years of science and experience.”
What are the three doshas and how do I eat for my body type?
There are three body types in Ayurveda: Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire), Kapha (mostly earth). You can take UMA’s dosha quiz here.
As Anand explains, there are five elemental energies in Ayurveda: ether, air, fire, water and earth. “We all have all five energies in our body but in our own unique proportions. The energy which dominates over the others becomes known as our body type or dosha.”
“Once you understand your dosha, you need to try and live a life which does not increase this already dominant energy into a further imbalance. Unchecked, all imbalances will eventually lead to ill health.”
“Keeping it simple, the vata energy is like the wind and is light, dry, cool and changeable so someone with a vata body type needs to keep an eye on balancing these energies which means not increasing them further. This can be through eating warming, moistening and slightly heavy foods to help counter the qualities of air.”
“The qualities of pitta are hot, acidic and flammable and pitta people should try to include cooling, calming elements into their lives like swimming, meditating and eating simple fresh foods that are cooling in nature like coconuts and aren’t too spicy.”
“The qualities of kapha are heavy, dense, cold and moist, and need to be balanced with food and activities which increase lightness, dryness and warmth so exercise, low fat and light (as opposed to energy dense) foods with spices and chillies suit kapha people.”
How does Ayurveda and beauty cross over?
According to Holecek, as Ayurveda has an integrated approach, lifestyle, beauty and health are all closely intertwined: “It’s the emphasis on better sleep for glowing skin, and balancing your hormone triggers to battle acne. Which is why UMA creates Ayurvedic products that are not only targeted towards rejuvenating the skin to ensure a radiant glow, but also to allow you to rest better, and feel more positive. Our products are free of endocrine disruptors and toxins, because you should never have to compromise on your health to try and have better skin – within Ayurveda, that simply doesn’t work.”
We all have to start somewhere, if you want to incorporate just one Ayurvedic beauty product into your routine, try the UMA Absolute Anti Aging Body Oil. “It’s such a beautiful amalgamation of highly efficacious ingredients and the highly indulgent Ayurvedic practice of self-massage. Together, they create supple skin, better circulation, a gorgeous, lingering aroma – and most importantly, an all-day sense of calm and confidence.”
Tell us, have you tried any incorporating Ayurveda into your life?