10 Must-Have Habits from Ayurveda by Cate Stillman
Ayurveda, the folk medicine from India and sister-science of Yoga, optimizes your body to feel great and last a good, long time. Based on habits and rhythms Ayurveda understands human biorhythms inside and out. If your daily habits go against our primate-ancestral rhythms you will suffer and/or cut your life short. There are 10 key habits the yogis of yore relied on that couldn’t be more relevant to thriving today.
Which of the habits do you need now?
1. Eat an Earlier Lighter Dinner
Is lunch your main meal or do you do your body the disservice of holding out for dinner? Eat a satisfying lunch to diminish skyrocketing blood sugar crashes and cravings.
2. Get to Bed Early
Are lights out by 10? If so, you’re sleeping better. You’re more well-rested than your fellow Earthlings. Keep it up. If not, reverse engineer your evenings. Unplug. Unwind. Hit the sack by 10.
3. Start Your Day Right
Wake up, hydrate, poop. Don’t soil today with yesterday’s fecal matter. If you’ve had your main meal at lunch, your body’s ready to release waste and welcome prana, your life force energy. Yogis experience a grounding, energizing rush of prana in the colon after hydrating and pooping before the day begins. Wake before dawn. Enjoy brahmamuhurta, the quiet sacred time before the daily hustle.
4. 20 minutes Breath Body Practices before Breakfast
We are glorified monkeys with big brains who, when healthy, love to monkey around! Move for 20 minutes minimum. Mix it up! Combine cardio (i.e. dancing), hardening (i.e. crossfit), softening (i.e. yoga), and playfulness practices (i.e. wrestling with your kids) to find your perfect breath body balance.
5. Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Variety is the spice of life! How many plant-species did you eat this week? Pursue local, native, and invasive species to eat seasonally. Bring new plants into your diet and notice which plant parts you crave in which season: seeds, sprouts, roots, shoots, leaves, or fruits? Mix it up for balance.
The yogis of yore rubbed themselves down with sesame oil before practicing outdoors. Oil lubricates the joints and wards off old age. Use organic cold-pressed oils on your skin daily and chuck chemical-laden lotions. Skin is your largest organ. Your hands are designed to heal, nurture. Other mammals do self-massage with their tongues. You get to use your hands! Notice benefits: relaxed nerves, deeper sleep, glowing skin.
7. Sit in Silence
With all the hubbub of our digitally-activated lives, it seems a luxury to unplug and simply sit and do nothing. Yet, it’s a necessity. Sit in silence. Upgrade to meditation. Let your busy mind, emotions, and nerves hit the reset button. Do it. It will help you make great choices. Practice silence to tap into self beyond mind.
8. Befriend Healthier Eating Guidelines
Do you eat again before previously ingested food is digested? The result is that blood sugar stays jacked up and instead of burning fat, we burn sugar and crave carbs. Avoid stacking your meals to burn fat, the stabilizing energy of choice for body and mind. Unless you’re seriously convalescing or nursing a babe, consuming more than four times daily typically signifies emotional eating. Three meals a day is about right. Don’t starve or overstuff your stomach, drink only water between meals, eat in a calm environment, and invoke gratitude before digging in.
9. Come to Your Senses
Your senses are the gateway to your experiences. Take a break from your computer, rest your eyes on the horizon, apply oil in your ears (karna purana) and nostrils (nasya), and scrape your tongue. When done regularly, these practices open your lenses of perception and aid the longevity of your sense organs.
10. Choose Easeful Living over Stress
Like a toggle switch in your nervous system, you live in either reaction or reception. The first unconsciously meanders toward tension, limitation, and disconnection perpetuating stress. The latter leads to an extraordinary, heart-centric, intimate, and evolutionary life cultivating ease. Simply pause. Take a breath. Decide. Can you expand even when your thoughts or emotions want you to contract? Practice receptivity to experience easeful living.
These habits from Ayurveda are the gateway into your life aligned. Notice which habits you’ve nailed. Notice where work lies ahead. Start an approachable habit with an attitude of curiosity. Take baby steps daily. If possible, find a buddy to co-navigate the process.