6 Unusual Ways to Balance Your Mind, Body and Spirit with Ayurveda

Do you feel overwhelmed?

Like you’re a hamster running on a wheel, and you long to jump off?  

Just between the essentials such as work, family life, relationships, and getting food into your mouth, you have an incredible amount to fit into each day.

While on summer holiday, you had the time to relax, take care of yourself, and enjoy time with your loved ones. But now that you’re back to your routine, that space disappeared.

So you’re back to running for dear life.

On the days when you squeeze in a yoga class or morning meditation, you feel incredible.

But frequently, you just can’t make the time.  

Sigh.

Are you doomed to spend your life searching for the time of take care of yourself?  

What if a way existed to increase your energy and decrease your stress, without eating up more time? 

Would you be interested?  

The Ancient Cure for Modern Woes 

The ancient science of Ayurveda provides a way out by teaching us how to change our lifestyles for long, happy lives.  

That means taking care of yourself now by using your eating, sleeping, working, and exercising habits. Each season, you use different routines to find your balance.

When I learned about Ayurveda, I held down a stressful corporate job where I traveled each week. And I faced the following familiar challenges: what to eat, and how to fit in exercise or yoga. I made a few changes to my diet and lifestyle.

The result? I felt more energetic and less stressed. And surprise — I was actually more effective at my job.  

Ayurveda empowered me to make the best choices each season given my constraints.

We all need a helping hand these days, and Ayurveda teaches us how to live in harmony with our true nature. Although it's a vast subject, you can start with a few simple changes for autumn.

As the weather turns cooler, drier and windier, the elements of air and ether dominate. This means that you may feel more anxious and ungrounded. Your digestion may have difficulty keeping up with your diet.

Try the following unusual tips from Ayurveda that elevate your energy and diminish stress in autumn. And then you can focus on what’s truly important. 

1. Spice up your diet.

Imagine a fragrant curry simmering on your stovetop. The odors of pungent and sweet spices waft over.

Have you wondered why the smell of delicious spices make your mouth water? Spices have a visceral effect; they signal nourishment to our brains.

Not only do spices like ginger, cumin, coriander, and pepper taste delicious, but they’re also useful to our bodies. 

In Ayurveda, our digestion determines if we feel energetic or lethargic. Called agni, our digestive fire transforms food that’s useful to our cells. If we don't break down food properly, or we eat junk, our cells aren't happy.

When feeding a fire, you need just the right type and quality of fuel. If the logs are too big, the fire can't use them, and if the material is too small, it won’t burn either. Similarly, we must chew our foods so that spices can help to build our digestive fire in our small intestines.  

A diet of simple whole foods provides the optimal nourishment or fuel for our fire. And spices encourage the release of digestive enzymes, boosting our digestion and energy levels. In Ayurveda, poor digestion is the source of maladies such as allergies, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and arthritis.  

Bonus! Many of these spices have specific medicinal properties — ginger decreases inflammation, fennel decreases gas and intestinal pain, and cinnamon regulates blood sugar. 

When your digestion is fine-tuned, you’ll have more energy for the important things in life. And won’t that make you happier?  

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2. Choose cooked over raw foods. 

Along with spices, eating cooked foods keeps our digestive fire burning smoothly. Cooked foods are easier for us to digest, because the cooking process transforms the food.

When we eat raw foods, our bodies do all the work of transforming raw, unprocessed foods to something our cells can use for energy.

Ayurveda considers raw foods cooling, rough and harder to digest than cooked foods. Raw foods are better for us when it’s hot outside and we need their cooling effect.

Do you love salads? No problem—  but eat salads as a side item rather than the whole meal. And be sure you top your salad with a vinaigrette. The oil helps to counter dryness of the raw foods and the acidic vinegar increases your digestion.  

And if you crave warm foods, listen to your cravings. Your body is telling you what it needs to get balanced. And don’t we all want more balance? 

Want to learn about your Ayurvedic Type? Take my free 11-Question Ayurvedic Quiz.

3. Banish ice from your glass.

Ayurvedic guidelines tell us to eat and drink warm or room temperature foods. Not cold. Not icy. Because cold freezes your inner digestive fire.  

Science supports this rule. When you eat, your body secretes digestive enzymes — amylase, protest, and lipase to digest each of the macronutrients, carbs, protein, and fat. Our enzymes work at a temperature range close to our body temperature.  

Drinking a bucket of ice-cold liquids paralyzes our digestion. In a biology lab, I saw firsthand how the enzymes are temperature sensitive. Those in very cold water didn’t digest their macronutrient solutions.  

So you know how most American restaurants serve drinks with a virtual iceberg of cubes? That's a death sentence for your digestion.

The solution? Drink your water and tea at room temperature or slightly warmer. When in hot climates, chill the water a bit, but hold the ice. And the same goes for food — warm or at least room temperature food is better than cold.  

If you must have cold drinks or ice cream, wait a couple hours.

Many of my Ayurvedic clients have noticed better digestion, and fewer tummy troubles such as IBS and cramping after making this change.   

Try it, and you’ll notice a difference in how your tummy feels. This will stoke your inner fire even more and give you more energy. And those niggly tummy troubles? Smile as they disappear, and you’ll feel amazing. 

4. Massage away your worries.

Oil massage, called Abhyanga in Sanskrit, is a little-known way to combat stress.  Abhyanga is an oil massage that you do yourself. You apply warmed oil to your whole body.

The Ayurvedic classics describe surprising benefits including increased longevity, improved sleep, better skin, and even a firmer body.  Abhyanga also increases circulation to our arms, legs, and back, working away soreness and injury.

The heavy, warm quality of oil is like getting a warm hug from your grandmother. This type of massage you can do yourself, and the only cost is a bit of oil.  

To try it yourself, choose a raw, organic sesame, coconut, or almond oil. Warm the oil by running hot water over the bottle.

Start by applying oil to your arms and legs, then work your way toward your torso, starting at the upper back and shoulders, then at the middle. At your belly button, make round clockwise motions to encourage the digestion of waste. Massage the oil into your body so that it penetrates into the deeper layers — a minimum of fifteen minutes of massage for the whole body.  

This is a simple way to energize and revitalize yourself without booking an expensive massage. And you can do it in the comfort of your home when you need a bit of self-love.

So try it, and see how relaxed you feel and how much better you’ll sleep.  

Creating rituals where you take care of yourself is a shortcut to feeling happier and healthier. 

5. Practice 5 minutes of meditation. 

Meditation and deep breathing are the most effective way to tame stress. In their groundbreaking book, The Alzheimer's Solution, Dr. Dean & Atesha Serzai, MD demonstrate how meditation counters the effects of cognitive decline as we age. 

Now we have a collection of intriguing studies that demonstrate the effects of meditation on cognition and stress reduction….Research suggests that medtiation is a poweerful tool for cognitive health… Two (other) recent studies also found an association between meditation and brain volume.

With a little daily practice, in very little time, you’ll feel like you’ve gone from crazy to zen.  Most people spend more than five minutes looking at Facebook or browsing the Internet each day. Do you?

Super! You can spare five minutes to breathe deeply or meditate.

I typically practice a very simple form of meditation that focuses on the breath.

Instructions for you

  1. Sit in an upright posture, either on the floor or in a chair. 
  2. Welcome your breath, without trying to change it. Focus on the exhale as you sit. Allow the inhale to happen naturally.
  3. When thoughts come, label them “thinking”. Then return to the focus on your breath. The point of returning the focus to your breath is very important.
  4. At that moment you make the choice to come back from your daydreaming to the present moment. That’s your choice.

Practicing a little bit each day will help you to have a calmer mind. Rather than focusing on big goals (which are great), focus on the actions which will lead you to those goals.

Would you like to be a patient, kinder person?  Start with five minutes of mindfulness. 

6. Follow your circadian rhythms. 

What will make you feel great, increase your energy, and even boost your immunity?

And it’s really fun to do?

Sleep is undervalued in our culture. Have you heard people bragging about how they can function on six hours of sleep?

I remember my friends in corporate jobs bragging about how little sleep they needed. But this is unsustainable for the long term.  

Science backs up the importance of deep, sound sleep. When your sleep, your mind regenerates. You wake up feeling refreshed and energized. Matthew Walker, director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley has studied the effects of sleep on the brain for decades:

It’s no kind of choice at all. Without sleep, there is low energy and disease. With sleep, there is vitality and health. More than 20 large scale epidemiological studies all report the same clear relationship: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. “

 Ayurveda gives a few guidelines for sound sleep. Eat lightly in the evening, and stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime. No blue lights before bed. These trick your body into thinking that it’s still in daylight.

Take a warm bath. Indulge yourself with a warm oil massage. You’ll sleep like a baby and feel like a new person. 

Time to jump off the hamster wheel

You can easily add a few spices to your meals, stop drinking cold drinks, and tweak your sleep routines.

Or you could keep running and wondering why your energy keeps plummeting and you feel like crap.

Instead, start by pampering yourself with an oil massage.

Set up your meditation space. Spend five minutes sitting tomorrow.

When you notice the difference from one change, you’ll want to make more.  

You'll be ready to jump off the hamster wheel and start enjoying life to its fullest.

Renewed energy and more happiness are waiting for you.

It’s really quite simple.  

Ready to get started?  

About the Author

You know how people feel stressed, fatigued, and overwhelmed —and they have no idea how to sift through all the health advice to help them feel better? Jessica Blanchard uses yoga, Ayurveda and nutrition to fix the root causes of their problems, so they get fit, and feel calm and energized.

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