Over the last two years, I’ve incorporated a lot of habits that help me live more energized, with greater clarity and calmness everyday.
About a year ago I decided to jump full into the ancient Indian tradition of Ayurveda. I sought out an Ayurvedic doctor and started down a fascinating path to really know my body and create some much needed balance. I had been experiencing various gastrointestinal issues and despite starting to slowly but surely cut preservatives out of my diet, I knew toxins were still residing in my body (and they weren't just coming from food and drink). I knew I was putting toxins into and onto my body. I knew Ayurveda was about more than just eating healthy. It also provides recommendations for a person’s entire lifestyle that help you live more in tune with natural cycles and really nurture your body with all kinds of love. And I was ready for a restart!
After doing a cleanse process, I worked with this doctor to implement some new routines that have really created a positive impact on my daily functioning. They bring the balance and the nourishment my body needs and inspire the vibrance it craves!
Here are some of my favorite nourishing routines!
Taking extra good care of the oral microbiomes: I’m not sure how many people know that just treating your mouth well can drastically improve your overall health, but how cool that just these simple habits can improve your immunity?! I’ve always done the brush twice a day, floss once, but recently I added in the tongue scraping and oil pulling. And it definitely makes a difference! There’s so much research out there right now confirming the links between our microbiome health, gut health and how the microbiota of these systems affect not only our overall body health, but also our brain function--something Ayurvedic tradition has known for centuries.
Cooking meals. Not only can cooking be a soothing and relaxing activity, but cooking meals also ensures that you know exactly what’s going into your food--every single ingredient. At one point I got a little obsessed with needing to know what was in my food and where it came from and didn’t ever want to eat out. I’m past that now, but definitely more conscious when it comes to what I’ll eat at a restaurant. Eating local always helps here!
Eating mostly vegetarian, whole and balanced meals. The plant-based diet craze is a thing for a reason! There are definitely some bodies out there that need meat. Every body is different and you have to find what works best for you. But since I’ve been implementing more regular plant-based meals and then the weekly chicken or white fish, my body feels so much lighter, stronger and more energized. My metabolism is totally regular, not wonky. My overall mood is improved on the day to day. When I’m eating whole, balanced, fresh meals, there’s just less ups and down, which makes sense given all the research on the relationship between the food we eat and our emotional regulation. Ayurveda taught me that food is our medicine. It exists to nourish and heal.
Staying hydrated. Water--also a game changer. If I’m not hydrating throughout the day I inevitably feel tired towards the middle to end of the day. There’s also other natural drinks that can actually do more to keep your body hydrated than drinking water alone. An example of one of these vital drinks I like is chia seed water. Simply adding 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds to a glass of water can enhance hydration. Chia seeds absorb over 10x their weight in liquid and once inside your body, their gelatin lines the inside of your organs, holding in moisture for longer periods of time. They’re also a great source of daily fiber!
Cutting the caffeine. This was something also lovely the Ayurvedic cleanse did for my body. It got me off caffeine. I’ve long been a coffee lover but I knew I didn’t want to do caffeine forever. It was also really starting to affect my body more. After nixing the caffeine, I actually feel that I have greater sustained energy throughout the day. I did some experimenting to prove this after the cleanse. And I I noticed that when I had a coffee or two, I’d feel momentarily alert, but then experience a decrease in energy afterwards (similar to a sugar high). Now I substitute with hot water every morning! And it’s been just as exciting--which may sound a little outrageous. But I think it has to do with the fact that I know I’m going to feel more energized from drinking the water as opposed to coffee--even if it’s decaf.
Giving thanks for meals, asking that they nourish my body. This is such a simple one, but the reasoning behind it is really cool. I always thought of humans as having an energetic vibration, but for some reason never thought about food, objects, and words have vibrations too. All these things in our physical world have vibrations that affect one another, affect us. During my yoga training I learned that fresher foods that have only recently been removed (lovingly) from the earth have higher vibrations--which makes a lot of sense! This is part of why it feels so good to eat something nice and fresh! But here’s the coolest thing--even if you have to eat something not as fresh here and there, just the simple act of giving gratitude over the food can change its vibration and therefore increase its nourishment in your body! Your intention changes everything.
Eating three regular meals only. I had a Chinese Medicine doctor once as well tell me that my body didn’t need to snack (when I always thought it did). After a while of weaning off snacking and changing other habits around sleep and exercise, I found that I didn’t in fact feel the need to snack throughout the day! I’m also not doing intense exercise anymore. I exercise regularly, but I’m not training as a competitive sprinter. Dietary recommendations will change from person to person, depending on your weight, body type, activity level. I’ve found that sweet spot where I feel nourished and energized with portioned, balanced meals. I eat my largest meal in the middle of the day per Ayurvedic recommendation and then a light dinner so it digests easily before sleep.
Exercising Differently: Morning and night. If I want to have energy throughout the day, I absolutely need to do exercise in the morning that actually gets my heart going! Usually this is some form of yoga for me. From the dive into Ayurveda, I found that I’m a very Kaphic sleeper, meaning I sleep really heavy and deep, so if I don’t do some kind of activity that really wakes my body up in the morning, it will inevitably slug on through the day! At night exercise looks more like a chilled out stroll. Or on cold winter nights, I’ll stay indoors and practice some restorative yoga, gentle flow or Qi Gong (this one is new!).
Embracing the natural sleep rhythm. This is interesting: Not only does the amount of time you sleep matter, but maybe more important is the time that you go to bed. I learned this first through experience, but it made a whole lot more sense once I learned about how intune our bodies are with the natural earth cycle of light and dark. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, but you’ll feel more rested if you get 8 hours of sleep between the hours of 10 and 6 versus 8 hours between 12 and 8. Around 10 o'clock, our bodies will catch the second wind if we push through drowsiness. Our chances for a restful sleep where we receive all the rejuvenating benefits sleep offers, decreases the later we try and sleep.
Nixing the screen-time before bed-time. Limiting screen time before bed can be a hard one with the attachment to phones and the abundance of exciting shows out there!! But I definitely notice what a difference it makes in my sleep and restfulness when I nix the screens and do something calming in that hour before bed. Something that’s helped me is getting an alarm clock so I don’t have to take my phone into my room with me. I can be winding down, reading or writing, having some quiet prayer time before sleeping. Anything calming before bed does the trick!
While I was writing this, I was thinking geez-- I sound like a monk. And I totally am not! While the discipline of that lifestyle is slightly appealing and I have great respect for this path, I don’t think it will ever be for me! I slip up, go off my schedule and get out of my habit. I have a glass of wine or a burger now and then...and that’s okay!
From all of my teachers in Ayurveda and from yoga teacher training, I’ve taken away one awesome nugget of wisdom. They’ve all said:Yes, we’re here to take care of our bodies, honor and nourish them to the best of our abilities. But we’re also here to have a human experience--and that involves enjoying pleasures of life. We don’t have to live dogmatically in order to get the most out of life. It’s about finding the balance.
And that is what Ayurveda as well as some study into Chinese Medicine has done for me. I’m so much more in tune with my body and how it feels when it’s getting everything it needs as opposed to when it’s not.
I know how to listen to it better and I know what it actually needs. We know life is a journey, but I believe getting to know what our individual bodies need is a huge part of finding the vibrance and balance we crave along this journey.
What gives your body vibrance and balance?