The 10 Habits, The principles of Ayurveda Living
Ayurveda is a term well known by many, especially in the Yoga world. It is derived from two Sanskrit words, ‘ayuh’ meaning ‘life’ or ‘longevity’ and ‘veda’ meaning ‘science’ or ‘sacred knowledge’. Ayurveda loosely means ‘the science of life’ or ‘the sacred knowledge of longevity’.
Ayurveda is like a road map to svastha (health), a guide for all parts of our being to work together harmoniously to experience ease and wellness. When this doesn’t happen we are on our way to stress, which often builds up to chronic systemic inflammation like diabetes, heart diseases, cancers – the list goes on and on!
Ayurveda not only helps us understand our individual natural tendencies (see dosha quiz) but also the cyclical and rhythmic nature of the world around us – it helps us feel a sense of unity (Yoga), being a part of and not separate from. It moves us out of our victim mindset or perfectionistic tendencies and helps us to take action now so that we can live our dharma (life-purpose) with vitality, ease and inspiration. When this takes shape, we participate and collaborate in this beautiful world, bringing forth our unique talents, gifts and personality for all to benefit.
When I embarked on my two-year-long Yoga Health Coaching Training with Cate Stillman, I didn’t expect the Ten Habits of Body Thrive to have such a transformational impact on not just my health, but my work, career and relationships as well. It was the best investment in myself I made.
When we understand why these habits are key and how they can compound good health over time, we are willing to embark on change, evolve our current identity and become the next best version of ourselves.
Give yourself an honest rating out of five for each habit:
- It’s not happening, it’s not part of my life, yet.
- I’ve tried it a couple of times – it hasn’t stuck.
- It comes and goes.
- Room for improvement.
- I’ve got this nailed!
Habit 1: Earlier, lighter dinner – Rating
Midday is known as the pitta (fire/ transformational) time of day, it is when the sun is at its highest and brightest, when our body creates the most bile, which is needed for good, strong digestion. Having our main meal at lunch gives the body time to digest during waking hours and our system to rest and rejuvenate while we sleep.
Start with meal planning for the week. Be realistic with what you can achieve so that your main meal can be at lunchtime on most days of the week. Try to be done with dinner by 6.30pm.
You’ll go to bed with a lighter stomach, fall asleep more easily, stay asleep longer, waking up earlier with more energy and clarity.
Tip: Light meals like soups, salads and stews are great evening options that are easy for the body to digest.
Habit 2: Early to bed – Rating
You want to start the day with energy and vitality, not exhausted and hitting the snooze button. You want to run on a full tank of energy and not spend or borrow tomorrow’s energy today. Getting to bed and asleep before 10pm ensures that you get the minimum hours needed to function well the next day.
Start with winding back your bed time by 15 minutes a week until you’ve achieved your desired bedtime – 10pm latest, earlier even better!
Fall asleep with ease, sleep through the night, wake up feeling refreshed, start the day on a full tank of energy!
Tip: Get away from the screen at least two hours before bed. Enjoy a foot massage, family time, do house chores.
Habit 3: Start the day right – Rating
A simple morning routine or ritual that supports you energetically and sets you up for a positive day ahead is what we’re aiming for. Being out of bed before sunrise, experiencing the dawn of the day, allows us to tap into the energy of Brahma Muhurta (the sacred time before sunrise).
Give gratitude on awakening, drink room-temperature to hot water to help you eliminate. Start the day light and ready for action.
Feeling hydrated and empty allows us to experience a sense of lightness, clarity and inspiration when we start our day.
Don’t use stimulants like coffee or tea, let elimination happen naturally with just hot water.
Habit 4: Breath body Practices – Rating
After awakening, get circulation going, move the stagnant blood, get lymph pumping and the oxygen flowing. Use movement to ignite and increase the level of energy you need for the day naturally.
Start moving your body for five to 20 minutes before breakfast. Vary it and keep it fun, this could be walking, running, dancing, Yoga, skipping, jumping jacks, HIIT workouts, etc.
You’ll feel energised and grounded at the same time and you’ll operate from your body and not your head. Plus, you won’t age as quickly!
Tip: Vary it depending on your commitments and time constraints for the day. Keep it fun!
Habit 5: Eat a plant-based diet – Rating
When we eat seasonally and from our ecosystem we increase diversification of the number of plant species to our diet, this means we’re able to tap into higher sources of nutrients, minerals and vitamins – excellent for vibrant, vital health!
Ayurveda doesn’t prescribe a vegetarian diet – often you will find recipes for bone broths and the like – but increasing our intake and uptake of fresh, seasonal vegetables, wild edible weeds and herbs is vital.
Increasing nutrient absorption helps to build a stronger immune system. Poor nourishment leads to poor choices, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
Tip: Head out to your local farmers’ market to see what is on offer and in season. Try something new and different regularly.
Habit 6: Self massage – Rating
Love is the highest vibration and the practice of self-massage makes self-love tangible. Using our healing hands on ourselves, we can sculpt our own body and give it that deep love it so often longs for.
Everyday take time for yourself to do an oil massage or dry brushing. Feel the connection and healing power of your own hands. You can do an abhyanga (oil massage) practice as a quick two-minute practice or a leisurely half-hour indulgence!
Not only will you have smoother, softer, hydrated skin, but it allows for direct access of the oils to deeply nourish your inner tissues from the outside in.
Tip: Dedicate an old towel or gown to your oil massage practice.
Habit 7: Sit in silence – Rating
Take time to still the mind and bring a sense of overall calm to your day. This allows us to digest our thoughts, ideas and experience, which then gives space for profound insights and a bigger perspective.
Stop, drop and sit. If two minutes is all you can afford, start there; if it’s 10, great; if you can go further, fantastic. Be realistic with what’s possible, but start!|
It helps you operate from inner awareness, being centred and grounded to see things clearly and with compassion, moving from being reactive to being proactive.
Set a timer or have a meditation app ready to go.
Habit 8: Healthy eating guidelines – Rating
Honour the natural pulsation of nature – fullness vs hunger – and your digestion will thank you. When we take in more than we can digest, we form ama (undigested food waste/toxins) in our body which can lead to inflammation and illness.
Allow a 13-16 hour fasting period from dinner to breakfast so autophagy can occur and your system can clean-house properly. Depending on your constitution you only need two to four good complete meals a day.
Taxing digestion regularly builds up ama. This wreaks havoc on our system over time. Less ama means we will have physical, mental and emotional clarity, stability and vitality.
Tip: Make delicious, nutritious meals; curb that snacking habit.
Habit 9: Sense organ self-care – Rating
Our senses are the most direct way we perceive, interpret and assess the world around us. We take in stimuli through our senses all day long but when our senses start to fail, we start to perceive our environment less accurately and with less clarity.
Nurture and nourish your senses, scrape your tongue, lube your nostrils and ears, palm your eyes, keep it simple but do give attention to each sense every day. Neti, nasya, oil pulling are common Ayurvedic practices.
Protecting our senses from deteriorating too quickly as we age.
Tip: Include these practices when you’re doing your oil massage.
Habit 10: Easeful living – Rating
There will always be challenging times, no matter how big or small, on an individual or global basis. When we orient towards ease we’re able to make choices that enable us to thrive and not just survive in both the short and long run.
Having the nine Habits dialled in, we become more resilient, we operate in alignment with circadian rhythm, with the pulsation and rhythm of nature. In every moment decide “will this lead me towards ease” or “will this lead me towards stress”?
When we operate from ease we are able to thrive, we have less decision fatigue throughout the day, allowing ourselves to spend our energy on projects and activities that bring us fulfilment, happiness and growth.
Tip: It’s not about the easy choice, it’s about the smart choice.
How did you do? Which habits have you got nailed? Which ones need attention?
We all experience times of stress and strain in varying amounts; none of us is immune to the challenges of life. How we respond to these challenges and how we move on is the important factor. The Ten Habits are by no means difficult to do, but implementing them regularly is where we often fall short. Having support of friends, colleagues or like-minded individuals can be useful in helping us automate these practices. Find ways that work best for you so that you can live your best, vibrant life. Enjoy being in rhythm! Namaste
Nina Saacks is a Yoga teacher and trainer, farm girl, traveller and Yoga health coach in training. She guides those seeking better health, more energy and work-life balance in her one-year ‘Shifting from Chaos to Rhythm Program’, where you get to automate these 10 habits. Connect: www.yogaaa.co.za
Nina is offering a FREE 20 minute Habits Chat to all Odyssey readers to ascertain where your biggest challenge lies at present.