Welcome The New Year with Ayurveda by Clia Tierney, MA
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, commonly known as a sister science to yoga, is a 5,000-year-old holistic approach to health. The word "Ayurveda" is derived from two words in Sanskrit, "ayuh" meaning "life" or "longevity" and "veda" meaning "science" or "sacred knowledge." The word, therefore, roughly translates as "the science of longevity" or "the sacred knowledge of life." In more simple terms, Ayurveda is a system for living your best life—the healthiest version of YOU—by developing an awareness of how you feel and what you need physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Ayurveda and the Seasons
My personal interest in Ayurveda developed about a decade ago during my yoga teacher training. Since then, it has increasingly become a part of how I nourish myself, my family and my friends. I love Ayurveda's connection to the natural world and its attunement to both the seasonal and daily rhythms in our individual lives and in the world around us. Studying Ayurveda reminds me to spend time outside and pay attention and shift the way I spend my days depending on the changes in nature. Ayurveda explains that we can change our routines to better support our health when we pay attention to these rhythms. And our overall health benefits most when we have a consistent daily routine, even as the seasons change.
By tuning in to the rhythms and cycles of nature, we can approach each day with habits that nourish us. For example, as we move from the warmth of summer into the coolness of fall, we can enjoy warm soups and stews with root vegetables, swap out raw greens and salads for steamed or baked vegetables, and warm and hydrate ourselves with herbal teas. As the weather cools and wind increases, we might shift from practicing power/intense vinyasa yoga to a slower yin style. Additionally, a grounding self-massage (abhyanga) using sesame oil before our shower or bath is excellent for improving lymphatic drainage to manage skin conditions, improve sleep and boost the immune system! As winter approaches, we continue nourishing ourselves with warm moist foods, and we add even more warmth with cozy hats and scarves or an extra pair of socks worn in bed.
The vast toolbox of Ayurveda includes resources for creating daily and seasonal routines and rituals that make us feel our best. Ayurveda encourages creating awareness around our nourishment, our stressors and our lifestyle choices, and it asks, "What shifts can I make to feel better in my emotional and physical body?" Finding the answer may take some time in quiet reflection—through meditation or journaling—or it may be speaking to you loud and clear with a significant health challenge. In either case, Ayurveda provides a framework to increase our awareness of which tools to use and when to use them to heal. Ayurveda's tools are preventive, and many are both simple and manageable.
We adjust and adapt tools to suit our individual constitutions, but all of us can use these tools to help us answer the questions "How do I feel?" and "What do I need?"
In terms of nutrition, some of the more obvious tools include eating at consistent mealtimes, avoiding distractions like screens and phones, sitting down while eating, and remembering to pause, chew and breathe between bites. In addition, we can think of nutrition not only as food and drink but what we take in from our surroundings: the environment, our relationships, our habits. Ask yourself, How are these parts of my life feeding me? Is what I am taking in nourishing me or depleting me? If it is nourishing, then relax and enjoy! If not, ask yourself how things could be better. Improvements could include taking time to yourself to be outside or letting that next call go to voicemail while you enjoy a few deep breaths. Maybe you forgo that next not-so-critical social event to stay home and take a warm Epsom salt bath or snuggle on the sofa with your loved one (pets included!). Or perhaps you need to make a more significant and challenging change and may need additional support.
How to use the Ayurvedic toolbox Establishing a consistent routine is one way I answer the question: What do I need to feel my best? The following is how I incorporate Ayurvedic principles at the beginning of my day (before breakfast):
Wake up at the same time each day (6:30 am)
Scrape my tongue
Brush my teeth
Wash and oil my face
Drink warm water with lemon or sip herbal tea
Meditate, stretch and journal
Other tools in the Ayurvedic toolbox, no matter the time of day or season:
Monitor screen time, especially at night
Have a consistent bedtime and waking time every day
Eat your largest meal at lunch
Eat an early light dinner
Eat seasonally (also organic, unprocessed, local)
Take good care of your liver
Hydrate with warm water and herbal teas throughout the day
Take a walk outside
Pause periodically and take several deep breaths
Meditate, journal and rest
Exercise/move your body
If you are seeking to establish better habits, remember to keep them manageable and straightforward. Be present with what you are doing, how you are breathing, what you are feeling, your thoughts, sensations, senses, sounds, etc. Remember to regularly ask yourself, What do I need right now? Then actually take some time to listen! Ayurveda encourages slowing down and paying attention to what comes up for you, then reaching for your toolbox to shift toward better health.
Mohan, Siva. Ayurveda for Yoga Teachers and Students
Clia Tierney, MA
The owner of Asante Wellness Coaching, Clia Tierney helps women move past "stuck" into possibility. She coaches people to overcome obstacles and obtain clarity about their goals. Through the process, personal transformation takes place, resulting in greater well-being, life balance and fulfillment.
Clia's professional background and life experiences as a teacher, educational therapist, yogi, wife, mother of teenagers, daughter and sister have fueled her passion for helping women of all ages identify and reduce their stress and struggle so that they can discover their purpose and confidently move forward.