I’ve been a yoga teacher for over six years. I was first introduced to Ayurveda when I was in yoga teacher training. The more I learned about Ayurveda, the more I wanted to know.
If you’ve never heard of Ayurveda, it is the sister science of yoga. Both go back thousands of years. Ayurveda translates as the science of life. I’ve heard it described as kitchen medicine because one of its main focuses is food. But it’s more than just the food you eat; Ayurveda considers all life factors to help you create balanced health.
Being out of balance can lead to issues with your skin, mood, sleep, digestion, pain, and disease (among other things).
According to Ayurveda, five elements make up everything in nature. The elements are earth, water, fire, air, and ether.
The five elements then combine to give us three doshas, or energies:
Kapha – earth and water
Pitta – fire and water
Vata – air and ether
Your constitution is a unique combination of the three doshas. Kapha, Pitta, and Vata are present in every cell of your body. They also show up in every aspect of nature, time of day, year, and life.
The Kapha time of life is childhood to young adulthood (about 16-20). This is the time of growth and building. The elements earth and water are the building blocks of nature.
The Pitta time of life is from Kapha to menopause or about age 50. During this time, you might notice that you have increased ambition and drive (fire) toward your goals, such as your career.
Vata time is the third stage of life–starting at menopause or around age 50. As I mentioned before, air and ether are the two primary elements of Vata. Some of the qualities associated with Vata are cool, dry, light, rough, mobile, and subtle. You might notice these same qualities in your body or mind during this stage of life.
As you get older, you might notice that your skin feels dry or rough. You might have difficulty sleeping because your mind wanders, or you might feel anxious, worried, or scattered during the day. These are all qualities associated with an imbalance of Vata.
In Ayurveda, we look to opposites to create balance.
The opposite of dry and rough is wet and smooth. But rather than slathering on lotions that are full of additives and other questionable ingredients, reach for a bottle of oil. The Sanskrit word “sneha” translates as both love and oil. And according to Ayurveda, doing a daily self-massage with oil is an excellent way to show your body some love.
The rule of thumb is don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t want to put in your mouth. Everything you take in, including things you put on your skin, has to be digested by the body. So, instead, I recommend you opt for high-quality oils that are organic and unrefined.
Sesame oil is a warming oil, so you may want to use it during the winter. On the other hand, coconut oil is cooling, so it pairs well with the heat of summer. Sunflower and jojoba oils are neutral.
You can also add a couple of drops of essential oil to one of these carrier oils for added benefits. Whichever oil you choose, start with a small amount. A little oil goes a long way.
Self-massage, or abhyanga, can help improve rough, dry skin. It can also help with sleep issues and anxiety.
You can choose to massage your skin in the morning or before bed. In the morning, I recommend you start with your feet and work up toward your head, helping you feel more energized. If you choose to do abhyanga before bed or you’re feeling anxious, start at the top of your head and move down to your feet. Moving down to your feet helps you feel more grounded.
You might want to put on an old robe or pj’s after applying your oil so you don’t ruin your clothes or sheets. I also recommend putting down an old towel on the floor for the same reason. Finally, you might want to warm the oil before using it. You can do that by rubbing it in your hands first. Or, if you’d like, you can put a small amount of oil in a glass jar. Then, put the jar in a pot of water on low heat for a few minutes.
If self-massage is a new habit for you, you can start by massaging just your feet or your scalp. You can also skip the oil at first if it feels too greasy. Instead, you can use your bare hands, a dry washcloth, or a dry brush. You will still get the benefits of improving circulation and cell renewal.
PS Whenever you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you make the shift from settling for the results you’re currently getting to really thriving in life.
- Get my free Food & Mood tracker. It’s excellent for noticing what you’re eating and why.
- Join other like-minded people taking control of their health in my Peace Run Yoga Facebook Group! It’s a place to share ideas, get advice, and meet others on a health journey.
- Join me for a live yoga class from the comfort of your own home. Check out the online class schedule and sign up!
- Work with me ONE-ON-ONE to step off the health rollercoaster. Send me an email with the words “I’M READY” in the subject line… tell me a little about your current health and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details!