Ayurveda is the science of living in harmony with nature. While yoga was developed as a science for the practitioner to bring balance and control to the mind, Ayurveda is a sister science developed for the practitioner to bring balance to the body. By applying Ayurvedic principles, we can use food as a way to heal body and soul and maintain a state of perfect balance (which means you are energized, clear-headed, and feeling great in your body).
Here are my top 5 Ayurvedic insights for better digestion:
Keep your “digestive fire” burning strong – In Ayurveda your digestive fire is referred to as “agni” which literally “cooks” your food, nothing is transformed without this fire. Most often my clients complain of sluggish, or dull digestion (a feeling of being overloaded, heavy). A dull fire creates debris, Ama (undigested food) which clogs your channels and is precursor to disease because it blocks the flow of Prana (your life force!). Some signs that you have too much Ama stuck in your body include headaches, body odor and color on the tongue. If you are experiencing these symptoms, drink hot water and ginger tea, eat a little less and move your body! I also recommend adding in a digestive enzyme – my favorite one is from Enzymedica.
Eat on a regular cycle, calmly and with your food– Eating this way primes your body for proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients. I eat with my Buddha, it reminds me to be peaceful, to slow down, and enjoy the meal. Practicing this mindfulness during meals is a way to bring your yoga practice to your plate. Think of it like this: you wouldn’t do chair pose with your iPhone attached to your ear (and if you are, you should probably stop that lol). As in yoga, the goal is to be present during meals and treat this time as sacred.
Allow yourself time between meals: It takes your body 3-4 hours to properly digest food, so grazing throughout the day tends to bog down your system. You can think of a pot of cooked rice, you can’t add more rice after it’s done, it won’t cook. It’s the same way with your food. Eating three meals a day, with at least 3 hours between meals allows things to be digested efficiently and completely. Which means you’ll have more energy for your yoga practice!
Aim to incorporate all of the 6 tastes into your day – sweet, sour, salty, pungent (spicy), bitter and astringent – Bitter is the most important missing taste, so try to add more of these foods into your diet: dandelion greens, black tea, aloe, green leafies. Paul Pitchford, author of the holistic bible “Healing with Whole Foods” says bitter foods make for a sweet life.
Use plenty of spices and herbs as they stimulate digestion – ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne are my favorites for revving your digestive fire keeping that Agni burning strong. Bonus: they also help boost your immune system! The Classic Curry recipe from my book,Go with Your Gut, is an easy and delicious way to incorporate many of these spices into your life. Don’t have the book yet? Grab your copy here.
Also, according to Ayurvedic tradition, spring is a great time to burn off anything that may be weighing you down and establish new healthy habits. This week try incorporating one or more of these tips into your daily routine. Then let us know how you are feeling by leaving a comment below, or tagging me @RobynYoukilis on social media.