AYURVEDIC PRACTICES | PT. 2
As a continuation from the last post, here is part 2 of my favourite Ayurvedic practices — rounding the list out with holistic skincare, mindfulness, and nutrition.
6. Honey Cleansing
I first experimented with raw honey on my face in my mid-20's, when I was trying to combat terrible acne. However, it wasn't until a couple of years ago at an Ayurvedic retreat, that I really noticed a difference in my skin composition from using this sticky substance topically. For one week, raw honey was used on my face daily (like a face mask), in an effort to reduce hyper-pigmentation and post-acne scarring. After just a few days, I started to see drastic results. The natural enzymes in the raw honey helped to slough away dead skin cells, just like an exfoliating treatment, promoting cell turnover and healing. Honey is also a natural humectant, meaning that it holds on to moisture very well, something my skin also really needed at the time. Having sensitive skin, I love that honey is gentle enough for everyday use. Today, raw manuka honey is my favourite (completely non-toxic!) facial cleanser, which I use each night before bed!
7. Mindfulness + Meditation
In Ayurveda, meditation and mindfulness are daily practices. And although this may translate more often than not as Transcendental Meditation (TM) or a yogic practice, I believe that meditation and mindfulness look different for everyone. Some practices may mean sitting mindfully for 5, 10, 30 minutes, navigating your inner dialogue, strengthening and building emotional resilience; it may look like journalling and setting intentions for your day, or doing something creative like painting or drawing, playing an instrument, singing, and even cooking. Or maybe it's something more physical, like exercise.
For me, mindfulness is giving any one practice or application my full attention, without judgment.
Meditation may be a part of this (depending on the day), as it helps me to tune in to my breath, get present, and cultivate a deeper understanding of my mental and emotional state of being. Mindfulness and meditation help me to nourish a mind that is less reactive, and more proactive for creating the life I want. (and I'll be the first to say that it's much easier said than done)
What does mindfulness and meditation look like for you, and how can you make it a more meaningful practice to benefit your overall well-being?
8. Culinary Nutrition
In Ayurveda, the six tastes — sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent, and bitter — help to define the nutritional value of foods, and how those foods assimilate energetically within the body, when consumed. Depending on your unique constitution, certain tastes (and therefore, foods) are more recommended than others. However, for all constitutions, optimal digestion is promoted with the use of specific foods or herbs: ferments like yogurt (or the traditional lassi, a yogurt beverage originating in India), bitter vegetables, spices varying from mustard, caraway, and fennel seeds, to chai (think: cinnamon, ginger, star anise, and cardamom); and then there's the mighty turmeric, celebrated for its anti-inflammatory benefits, which can, of course, also promote healthy digestion. When it comes to preparing balanced meals, I am conscious of the tastes that I am incorporating with each bite. I always aim to include a variety of different flavours, depending on how I feel and what my body needs. For a delicious digestive aid, try my grounding Masala Chai elixir.
+ Stay tuned for one of my favourite recipes that incorporates all six tastes in a nourishing and balanced way.
9. Herbal Medicine
There are thousands of herbs used in Ayurveda that I don't know, I'm certain of it. What I do know, however, is the few herbs that I've tried and love.
HOLY BASIL (TULSI)
/tul·si/ (tool'se) a type of basil, Ocimum sanctum, considered sacred in India and having immunostimulant, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties
Holy basil or tulsi is an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it's a plant, which can help the body adapt to and cope with stress by nourishing the adrenal glands (these glands regulate our cortisol, the stress hormone). Holy basil is probably most commonly taken in powder form or as a tea, which I drink nearly every day. It's wonderful as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up and soothing at the end of a long day of work. I recommend holy basil to many of my clients, as a substitute for that end-of-day glass of wine. It, too, has a calming effect. I love this version, which includes warming ginger.
/ash·wa·gan·dha/ (ahsh-wă-gahn'dă) an Indian herb, Withania somnifera, an adaptogen, an aphrodisiac, an immunostimulant, and tonic
Also known as Indian ginseng, ashwagandha is one of the best known rejuvenating tonics in Ayurveda. Like holy basil, it is an adaptogen, which can help to build physical stamina. It's nourishing for the muscular and skeletal systems, making it a favourite amongst those who have a more active lifestyle. It is also excellent for the endocrine and nervous systems, helping to moderate stress and balance hormones. Ashwagandha is therefore useful for issues of nerve exhaustion and fatigue. I like to take ashwagandha in the morning before exercising, mixed with a tea or elixir. I recommend a high quality brand, like this one.
/gug·gul/ (gōōgˑ·gl) a shrub, Commiphora wightii or C. mukul, resin used in Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering agent
I was first introduced to guggul as part of my panchakarma (detox and rejuvenation) protocol, at the Ayurvedic retreated I attended. It is best known for it's benefits towards circulatory problems and for years, has been widely used for lipid imbalances (ie. high cholesterol) and rheumatoid arthritis. A number of studies have been conducted to show that guggul is safer and more effective for lowering cholesterol than most conventional drugs.* It functions to increase the liver's metabolism (and therefore metabolize substances like fats more efficiently). I like guggul for removing stagnation and decreasing inflammation in the body, which is especially important for managing my symptoms of lupus. Guggul can also be great for increasing energy and strengthening both the nervous and skeletal systems, aiding in the prevention of conditions such as osteoporosis.
*No two individuals are alike and any herbal remedies can contradict other supplements and/or medications. Please consult a medical doctor or trusted health care practitioner before implementing use of any supplements, herbal or otherwise.