Yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, has some really interesting insights that can lead towards a greater sense of balance in the body and mind. The two go hand in hand and we can learn a lot from each of them.
Moving to a place of balance
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that means ‘Life Science.’ It takes the concept of homeostasis and applies it to ALL areas of life. From body type, to age, to time of the day, time of the year, altitude... You name it! Ayurveda explores how everything in nature (and that includes you and me!) is in constant ebb and flow, always striving to be in balance, at one with itself and its environment.
Sounds simple right? Well, to a lion, a bird or a tree, it couldn’t be simpler. But for us, it’s a little more complicated, because our minds, our habits, our desires and aversions, all play a part and can make it a little bit difficult to hear and see exactly what we need.
From what we eat to how we move
Most people have heard about Ayurveda in the context of what we eat. This topic is beyond fascinating, and when applied properly to daily life, can be absolutely transformational. But it can also be applied to how we move and when we move!
Many people in today’s world believe that vigorous, sweat-inducing, calorie-burning and sometimes forceful exercise is what the body requires. And if you don’t break into a sweat and have your heart rate through your ears, it doesn’t really count. This is a big obstacle we find with yoga and the belief that it should be fast, hard and uncomfortable for it to be ‘working.’
The wonderful news is that all of this is a myth and in fact the exact opposite is true. Our goal should be in finding a sustainable way to maintain balance and to exercise, eat, move and everything else in ways that feel aligned with who we truly are.
Top tips for Summer Loving
1. Slow everything down a notch or two
Ayurveda has some wonderful tricks up her sleeve and when it comes to Summer (a kapha time), she says that our movements should be slower, calmer and more grounded. Things like yoga, walking and gardening are wonderful ways to move your body without generating excess air (vatta) or heat (pitta) which can lead to feelings of imbalance.
We might think that heading out for a 5 mile jog and coming back covered in sweat is just the trick, but actually it may be depleting for our bodies, our muscles and tissues, and may actually lead to irritability, anxiety or even anger later in the day or week. Now, if you run and you’re reading this, you’ll think I’m crazy! A year ago I would have said I was crazy too. Running feels great, the endorphins it creates are addictive, but the truth is it isn’t sustainable and possibly isn't serving you as well as you think. It's kind of like coffee!
2. When to move and when to rest
Around sunrise and sundown are the best times to move and exercise, says Ayurveda. These are both kapha times of the day and the best time to get up and about (they may also be the most beautiful!). This is when our bodies are likely to feel their heaviest, and we may be inclined to stay in bed (especially if we are kapha dominant ourselves!), but moving here will put us in a much better place in body and mind for the rest of the day.
Rest time is also really important, and early afternoon is the time to do it. When it’s hottest (a pitta time) we want our bodies to feel nice and cool, so taking a short nap, or just sitting with a cup of tea and being idle for 10 minutes is a sure way to re-energise and re-balance.
3. Sleeping to detox and cleanse
When the moon is high in the sky (a pitta time), it has an effect on the water in our bodies. Our organs want to rest and our metabolism is slowed right down. At this time, the liver and kidneys go through a deep detox and deep body cleansing takes place.
It’s important to go to bed before 10pm to ensure maximum cleansing and detoxification. It is also a good idea to apply intermittent fasting for at least 12-16 hours to give your digestive system time to really rest overnight. Avoiding eating or drinking anything (except water or herbal teas) after 5pm or 6pm is really great practice.
Application to our modern lives
The most important thing is to not get too hung up on the do’s and don’ts. The above are all guidelines, taken from Ancient Ayurvedic texts, translated and passed down through the centuries. Take everything with a pinch of salt, and use it as a guideline or motivation to start listening more to yourself.
Trust yourself, your instincts and your gut.
Notice when you have energy and you feel light and balanced, and when you don’t. What are you eating, when are you sleeping, how are you exercising? The more you ask yourself these questions, take note of the answers, and start making small changes, little by little you’ll start seeing huge transformations in your life! Treat it as a fun experiment, without force and without judgement.
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Carrie is a co-founder of The Frog Project, yoga teacher, teacher trainer, and full time stay at home mum to two smalls. When she's not playing with the kids or practicing yoga, you'll likely find her in the middle of her veg patch, trowel in hand and covered in mud. She loves the outdoors, and would camp every night given the chance. She and her partner in crime, Martin, set up The Frog Project with the aim of bringing classical yoga to all, and deliver live online classes with a group of dedicated teachers, to students of all experiences, ages, shapes, sizes, jobs, lives, you name it, from all around the world. Join them now and get 15 days of free unlimited classes. It's just yoga.