How this 5000-year-old system of healing can improve your health and give you an overall mind-body balance
Before there was biohacking, there was Ayurveda. But before you start looking for Ayurveda gadgets, take a deep breath because it’s not a high-tech practice. This science of life is a 5000-year-old system of healing originating from India.
Why is it important today and why should you care?
Biohacking has become a topic of increased interest among many, and the more I learn about biohacking, the more parallels I find with Ayurveda. More specifically it aligns with the part of biohacking that highlights prevention, personalized approaches, self-awareness and gaining a better understanding of our body and overall well-being.
As opposed to it being another FAD (which I call “Failed American Diet”), it looks at the entire individual, noticing the connections between the mind and body and addresses the individual holistically. You can say goodbye to the one-size-fits-all diets. Especially because those really fit no one.
Since healthy living has been at the forefront of our lives, we’ve begun to realize that instead of following what works for others, it’s time to figure out what works for us. So we’ve started asking questions such as “What am I eating? How am I thinking? How do I feel on a daily basis? How is my digestion? What is my body telling me?” This is where Ayurveda comes in.
Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga dedicated to balancing the mind and body for true wellness. Certified Ayurvedic, holistic and sports nutritionist and author of several Ayurveda books Sahara Rose Ketabi believes that Ayurveda is the next yoga.
“As more and more people practice yoga, they leave the studio wanting to maintain that feeling of balance. They begin to look at other areas of their life yogically, with awareness,” she said. “Ayurveda is the predecessor of yoga that says in order to transcend the mind and body, you first must go into it to heal it.”
Ayurveda also refers to the knowledge of life, therefore you must be aware of all areas of your life to truly achieve radiant health.
What areas of life does Ayurveda benefit?
Dr. Deepa Apte, Indian medical doctor and founder of Ayurveda Pura in London, says it helps bring back balance on the physical, mental and emotional aspects of everyday life. “Ayurveda strongly believes that the mind, emotions and body are interrelated. Any changes in one aspect will bring changes in the other aspects, too. Hence, we focus on the body and mind as a whole and not as separate systems or parts. When applied correctly one will see huge benefits in
physical health and mental health.”
The basics of Ayurveda
Ayurveda sees everything in the universe, including human beings, as composed of five basic elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. These five elements combine with each other to give rise to three bio-physical forces (or Doshas) within the human body: Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth).
“Together they govern all the biological, physiological and psychological functions of the mind and body, both, physical and emotional, as well as affecting how an individual interacts with everything around them,” Dr. Apte said.
Based on what dosha or doshas are dominant in your life, everything is individualized from herbal remedies, detoxification, yoga, and massage to lifestyle routines and behaviors which stimulate positive emotions.
How can we incorporate it into our lives?
Ayurveda suggests that to be able to follow this principle and science you don’t have to completely change your lifestyle or habits, but on the contrary, it’s all about integrating elements of Ayurveda into your everyday life to create balance.
According to Ayurveda, disorders are primarily the result of imbalances and toxins that accumulate in the body over time. Poor diet, stress, environmental toxins and other factors can build up in our cells, joints, and tissues, causing imbalances.
Dr. Apte said the first step is to find out your body type, then follow foods, physical practice and exercise, herbs and massages accordingly. “Beyond these given guidelines, however, most importantly, Ayurveda says that we need to listen to our body closely — mindfulness and awareness are the two key points towards health and balance, in life,” she said.
Many practices you can do at home (perhaps you’re already doing a few), while others require more expertise for which you’d visit a certified practitioner.
It’s the practice of swishing oil in your mouth for a few minutes to remove toxins. Depending on your body type, it’ll be either sesame oil or coconut oil. Although it might taste strange at first, it has great oral benefits including, better breath, fewer cavities, whiter teeth, stronger gum, and better digestion.
If you’ve ever seen white stuff on the back of your tongue in the morning, you know the purpose of this one. Bacteria and toxins can accumulate overnight creating mucous, and it could spread down to your gastrointestinal tract affecting your digestion. Copper tongue scrapers are the most popular, and they even have antibacterial benefits. This practice increases immunity, improves dental health and enhances saliva production in the breakdown of food.
This one definitely won’t be bizarre or new if you’ve used a loofa before. It doesn’t only feel great, but also removes dead skin cells, promotes detoxification and stimulates your lymphatic system that helps protect the body against viruses and bacteria. You can use a firm bristle brush, or one specifically designed to dry brushing and do it before hopping in the shower.
Being British, you can easily check this one off your list. Herbal teas help your body digest, assimilate and cleanse easier, saving you the bloat and constipation. They also help decrease inflammation and boost your immune system.
There are treatments to nearly every part of the body from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head that aim to rejuvenate, strengthen, heal and nourish the body. Therapists perform these massages with warm oil that’s infused with herbs that match your Dosha. Here are a few:
Digestion therapy: Improves digestion, helps release emotions you’ve been holding onto, decreases constipation, bloating and gas and enhances elimination.
Head massage: Improves the eyesight, color, texture and volume of hair, strengthens the musculature of head, neck and shoulders. It also gets rid of headaches, improves quality of sleep and helps delay the decline of sense organs and aging.
Ear treatment: Helps in certain neurological complaints of the ear, loss of hearing and tinnitus. Also, reduces ear ringing, clears sinuses and decreases jaw and facial tension.
Heart-opening treatment: Opens the heart chakra (the body’s energy center associated with the heart). Increases the feeling of love, strength and connection and helps relieve nervousness, anxiety and fear.
Whole-body oil fermentation: Helps improve degenerative joint disorders like spondylosis, arthritis and acute pain-related conditions like tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, sprains.
Oil massage: Stimulates lymphatic drainage, removes toxins, helps destress and unblock your chakras (energy channels) and releases muscle tension.
Panchakarma: This five-step detox program might seem the most intense of all as it aims to completely purify, detoxify and rebalance your body. The five therapies in order are herbalised oil enemas, nasal irrigation, therapeutic vomiting, purging and bloodletting.
Ayurveda spas and resorts in the UK and beyond
Ayurveda Pura, London, UK
Whether you want to learn about this ancient science of healing, sign up for treatments or need lifestyle and nutrition advice, Ayurveda Pura is a one-stop-shop of Ayurveda products, treatments and training. And if you’re looking for an intense internal detox, they offer a nine-day Panchakarma package as well.
Geeta Vara Ayurveda, London, UK
Doing your own research on what Ayurvedic practices may fit you best could be bit of a challenge, but a health consultation can get you on the right track. Once you know what treatments your body needs to heal or destress, you can jump right in. Whether you want to address issues such as stress and fatigue, compromised immune system, gastrointestinal problems (IBS, constipation, indigestion, anorexia, acid reflux) or insomnia and disturbed sleep, a one-on-one consultation, or a Skype call, can give you answers and guidance to better health.
Ayurveda Port Salvi, Punta Port Salvi, Spain
If you fancy an Ayurvedic getaway, aim at the coast of Spain. You’ll meet an Indian Ayurvedic doctor who’ll facilitate your treatments, plus you can enjoy the tropical coastland view while indulging in nourishing Ayurvedic cuisine. Port Salvi offers treatments lasting from three to 21 days.
Hopping on a plane to Sri Lanka for a super authentic Ayurveda vibe is well worth it. The three different resorts each offers a unique healing holiday where you can fully immerse yourself in Ayurveda, understand its purpose and enjoy the benefits. Rebalancing your dosha through diet, meditation, yoga and specific Ayurvedic treatments can be a powerful tool.
The world’s first Ayurveda hospital set in a resort ambiance is a true escape from not only the buzzing city but from the Western world as well. Indulge in traditional Ayurvedic dishes, practice yoga in nature and return home fully recharged. Special Ayurveda treatments and packages offered include rejuvenation therapy, detoxification, body purification, slimming, stress management, anti-aging, beauty care and various clinical treatments for cure.
From India to the Midwest. A state that many would call boring, lacking culture isn’t exactly where you’d expect a high-end Ayurvedic boutique experience, right? Yet it’s among one of the most qualified ones. The Raj has been approved by the Maharishi Ayurveda Council of Physicians, an honored consortium of the most experienced Ayurvedic experts in India, considered to be the gold-standard of Ayurveda. Packages range from 3-day to 24-day stays, but only 15 guests accepted at a time. Expect highly individualized treatments and holistic health programs.
Offering several retreats a year, Shankara Spa gives you a hands-on experience to take home. Healing at the spa is only the beginning of finding your balance. You can learn to make Ayurvedic meals, enjoy treatments, leave with a personal wellness plan and even request ongoing coaching support for future guidance.