Wellbeing and general health rely on the delicate balance between body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda - a 5,000 year old Vedic practice is based on this concept.
At it's core, it is focused on prevention and after beginning in India it has slowly spread across the world as people search to find their own state of ideal health.
Renowned Ayurvedic practitioner Dylan Smith, shares some of the basic principles and qualities from Ayurveda and a recipe that is not only delicious but medicinal and nourishing.
Ayurveda is a powerful mind-body health system, can you explain what it is and it’s guiding principles?
Ayurveda is a sanskrit word. Ayur means life and Veda means knowledge or science. Ayurveda is “The Science of Life.” What a broad and holistic body of knowledge! It reveals the laws of nature imbedded in life. In other words, it holds wisdom on every single thing in life.
The essence of the principles of Ayurveda is to live in tune with nature. Nature’s cycles, rhythms and your individual nature. When you live in tune with your human nature, you enliven perfect health that lies dormant in every single individual. It’s not so much about getting rid of disease, it’s about enlivening health. Then disease will dissipate.
Tell us about your journey to become an Ayurvedic practitioner?
I visited an Ayurvedic clinic in south India in the midst of not feeling fulfilled while studying architecture at university. I was so inspired by the miraculous healings and the doctors at the clinic, and after expressing my feelings to them, they invited me to study Ayurveda at their clinic. They are my beloved gurus who I spend a lot of time with. (The internationally renowned family of ayurvedic doctors, The Raju family).
How can we discover our dosha?
You get your radial pulse checked by a quality Ayurvedic practitioner who knows pulse diagnosis. Not by a “dosha quiz.”
More importantly, don’t get too caught up about it. Your dosha always changes. It changes with the season, with your menstrual cycle (if you have one), with influential events in your life, even depending on the time of the day! You need to be adaptable to what your dosha is at the time, in the now.
This is why the majority of the time I don’t tell my patients their dosha, because people are becoming too rigid with them (e.g. I am vata, so I am only eating anti-vata foods and doing vata things).
What are the qualities of the three doshas?
- Vata, which is composed of the space and air element is rough, light, cold, subtle and moves. Vata is responsible for the movements and perception in the physiology.
- Pitta, which is composed of fire and water element is slightly unctuous, sharp, hot, light, fermented, slippery and liquid. Pitta is responsible for the transformation and metabolism in the physiology.
Kapha, which is composed of the earth and water element is heavy, slow, cold, unctuous, smooth, greasy and stable. Kapha is responsible for the stability, coherence and lubrication in the physiology.
How can we start living an Ayurvedic lifestyle?
A few things to start:
- Go to sleep before 10pm and wake up before sunrise. If you are far from this, slowly reduce your sleep and wake times until you align with sleep and wake rhythms.
- Meditate twice a day. I recommend Vedic meditation for 20mins 2x/day.
- Lather oil on your body and give your self a massage before bathing each day. This is called Self-Abhyanga in Ayurveda (Self oil massage).
- Sip plain hot water frequently throughout the day to melt and flush toxins and dilate channels in the body. Stop drinking cold drinks and eating cold foods, which put out your digestive fire and aggravate your body tissues. -
- Make lunch your biggest meal and dinner your lightest. Breakfast can also be light.
Get sunshine daily on your skin and after sunset reduce artificial lights and screens.
What life transformations have you seen when people have adopted an Ayurvedic lifestyle?
They supersede the uninspiring “new norms” of health today.
Areas like a regular menstrual cycle with no pain at all. Proper sleep and feeling energetic in the morning. Regular elimination of wastes: bowel motions, urination, sweat. Clarity of mind, lightness of being, emotionally happy and blissful, radiant body full of physical energy. Reduction of back, joint and urinary pain. The list goes on…
Unfortunately these are not the norm anymore. This is why we need to start revolutionising our health back to what is our natural birth right and consciously desire to radiate health and vitality.
Can you share with us a favourite Ayurvedic recipe?
Kitchari. A very easy and quick dish to make which is a complete protein, full of nutrients, medicinal and delicious. I recommend most people to eat Kitchari at least a few times a week to reset digestion.
- 2 Tbsp of ghee (inferior is coconut oil)
- 1/2 cup of split yellow mung dahl
- 1/2 cup of white rice or red rice
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 5 Tbsp freshly grated ginger (to taste)
- 1tsp turmeric powder
- pinch of black pepper.
- 2-3 pinches of asafoetida
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 heaped tsp salt
- 1 whole onion (finely chopped)
- 1-3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- 4-8 cups of water (can be adjusted according to how long you soak for and desired consistency).
- Wash mung and rice then soak for 1-2 hours in water.
- Strain mung & rice, add (approx. 8 cups of water) in a pot and cook. May need to add more water as you go.
- In a separate heavy-bottomed pan, add ghee on medium heat. Do this when the mung+ rice is nearly finished being cooked (after approximately 5-10 mins. This depends on heat and how long you soaked the dal and rice).
- Saute cumin, fennel, curry leaves, fresh ginger and any other herbs (not powdered herbs) in ghee until the seeds start to pop.
- Add onion & garlic (chopped finely) and cook until slightly golden.
- Add your "final spices" to the pan - turmeric + pinch of black pepper + salt + hing and fry for less thirty seconds.
- Add pan-fried herbs to dahl and rice and mix well, infusing the spices in the dahl and rice.
- Cook and continue to stir for a little while. May need to add more water in till desired texture.
- Garnish with fresh lemon, black salt and fresh coriander.
- Diarrhoea or inflammation in the gut - 2 parts rice, 1 part yellow mung
- If feeling depleted or constipation: 2 yellow mung, 1 rice
- Balanced state: an equal ratio of mung and rice.
- If having kitchari for dinner, best to not eat anything after (desert or milk) for full medicinal effect.
- Can add steamed vegetables or lean meat when not cleansing, or for extra blood sugar support during a cleanse. (Although this isn’t real kitchari).
Kitchari: A New Favourite in Your Kitchen
Make kitchari when you are sick, when you are sad, when you are cleansing, for your kids or a loved one when they are not feeling 100%, when you can’t be bothered to cook, when your not fully grounded from travelling, when you need to regain your strength, or when you are feeling on top of the world!
For more information contact Dylan at Vital Veda
The health views expressed in this article highlight alternative studies and intend to create conversation. They are the views of the author and are for informational purposes only.
Image: Paris Abstraction by Isamu Noguchi, 1928