The Introduction to Ayurveda
Have you ever wondered what Ayurveda means? Its roots lie in the Sanskrit language, where 'Ayu' means the lifespan and 'Veda' means wisdom or philosophy. It's a holistic system of healing that includes natural supplements, therapies, medical oils, massages, yoga, special diets to achieve wellbeing. Ayurveda is the science of life incorporated in 8 components or branches of study.
How can Ayurveda help you?
Ayurveda is one of the oldest forms of an established health system that advanced during the 'Vedic Period' in history. The science is five millennia old, with existential evidence of it dating to the Indus Valley civilization. Ayurvedic traditions from the Himalayas have existed from prehistoric times. The medicine traditionally revolves around the imbalance of the three doshas or bio-energies and unraveling wellbeing. Ayurveda emphasizes on prevention of imbalances and protection of health.
Scholars like Caraka and Sushruta, one of the earliest practitioners, organized this knowledge into textbooks Caraka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, respectively. From the time of its origin, five thousand years ago, Ayurveda has stood the test of time and has proven to be one of the safest systems of health and longevity. Currently, Ayurveda is seen as a sister science of Yoga with a rich source of health information for individualized health care.
Ayurveda is a life of excitement and peace; some are driven by wanting to achieve everything in a single lifetime, whereas others enjoy the offerings as they tread through life.
Introduction to the orators
Vaidya Jayagopal Parla is the Founder and Director of Athreya Ayurvedic Integrative Health Center and the Co-Founder and Vice President of Athreya Herbs. He is an internationally known speaker, educator, and Ayurvedic and Yogic practitioner.
Vaidya Jay completed his bachelor's from Bangalore University, India, and master's from Rajiv Gandhi University, India, and Southern California University of Health Sciences. With years of extensive clinical, teaching, and research experience, he worked as a Professor at American universities of Alternate and Complementary medicine and as a visiting faculty at the Japanese School of Ayurveda.
R.A Leslie - R. A. is the founder at Seeuatnoon.com. She's an International life coach who has authored multiple books, a public speaker, and ultimately a mother of three. Fascinated about what makes people truly happy and curious to explore more, she spent the last thirty years transforming lives of distress and restricting beliefs to lives filled with purpose.
What is the role of a healthy diet in the Ayurvedic lifestyle? Today our experts will discuss how one should gradually incorporate a healthy diet into the Ayurvedic routine.
Introduction to the Podcast
At Athreya, it is our priority to bring Ayurveda to global awareness. Today Vaidya Jay is in conversation with R. A Leslie about the Ayurvedic lifestyle and the importance of diet in it.
" The routine is important. Ayurveda recommends the regularity of meals. The concept of grazing the food all day long doesn't exist in Ayurveda. The timing of the meal has its importance."
Namaste and welcome to the Athreya herbs podcast. We are continuing our podcast with Rae, who has been generous to come on this podcast series to talk about the Ayurvedic journey. We have been going through each part of the journey. How can one personalize their Ayurvedic journey without being overwhelmed by all the new information? We're dissecting how you can own your Ayurvedic daily routine section by section, and we believe that routine is the key to living a long and healthy life. Those who are joining us for the first time on this podcast series, my name is Vaidya Jay, and I am a long-time Ayurvedic practitioner, teacher, and Ayurvedic enthusiast. I like to talk about how Ayurveda is a journey for longevity and healthy life. My co-host Rae is a transformational coach, author, and speaker based in New York and is the founder of Seeuatnoon, a career life coaching collective. Her main intention is to help people; and build a community where people can use journaling and counseling to shift their perspective, change their habits and release their suffocated creativity to thrive in life. Welcome again, Rae.
Rae - Thank you, Vaidya Jay, for having me.
Vaidya - We were talking about routine and its importance. Last time we went through the routine of a self oil massage or self-care massage. We also introduced some breathing techniques that can be handy in different stressful situations. These breathing techniques are important to promote health. In the sixth podcast, we'll talk about the importance of diet, food, and eating. I know that when we first started talking about Rae's journey, we talked about why food was important and how she suddenly started noticing certain things that didn't sit well with her, even though she previously enjoyed these types of foods. There was a sudden shift, and that shift improved communication between the body and the mind, in which the mind is not imposing, pushing, or bullying the body to do things that the body is not comfortable with. I love this topic because food is so important. I think Americans have a food culture of eating whatever they want but most other ethnicities eat according to their region, climate, and local availability. We want to dwell on this information. Let's listen to Rae first to learn about the importance of diet and what changed when she started following an Ayurvedic routine. Rae, Would you mind telling us about your personal experience with the diet?
Rae - My personal experience with a diet has many layers because I've lived several decades. Most importantly, I listened to my body. When I craved certain things in the past, I felt it was an imbalance in my body. I would look into it and change my diet to something healthier. The other important thing is making time to sit down and eat. Sitting down and slowly beating is difficult in our crazy American society. I would look at the foods I was eating and the foods which would affect me differently. Now I'm pretty much a vegan; however once, in a while, I go back and have something. I recently noticed that I craved eggs, and I hadn't had any in months. I didn't want to have them but ended up buying some and making them, and I was not feeling well for the rest of the day. I didn't feel like I was digesting them. I found that interesting and made a note of it, so I probably won't do that again.
Vaidya - You bring two points here, Rae. One thing is the easiest routine that we can inculcate into our lives. Ayurveda always recommends the regularity of meals or food. The concept of grazing the food all day long doesn't exist in Ayurveda. The routine is important. When we say routine it means, the timing of the meal has its importance. If somebody eats breakfast at 8 o'clock, then between 8:00 to 8:30 or a maximum of 9 o'clock should be the time when every day they eat breakfast. This is unmistakably health-promoting. In Ayurveda, when you rhythmically work with your digestive system in a timely fashion by supplementing the diet, food, or whatever the person is taking as breakfast. It's almost like a signaling mechanism for the entire gut, the secretions in the gut, and the main organs of the gut such as the stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, and intestines, all of which play an important role in brain health and inflammatory response. People come and ask me, "can I have coffee?" Yes, they can have it. Coffee doesn't just go because your mind wants it; you must establish a relationship that will define what the body is capable of doing and what the mind is getting out of it. Life is so busy nowadays that we think food is an inconvenience at times.
Rae - I see people walking down the street eating, and I think, how can one eat pizza while walking? I have a question about coffee because I know people love coffee. I have it once or twice a week, or maybe when I feel like it. Can you tell us when is the best time to have coffee and what type of coffee one should have? How would you guide somebody who doesn't want to give up their coffee?
Vaidya - We have a coffee culture in this country; there's no question about it. We must have a healthy relationship with coffee. Ayurveda doesn't say that the coffee is toxic, and one should not drink it; it says that these are the characteristics of coffee, it's up to you how to choose it. Coffee's qualities are light, minute, and mobile, and it makes the mind light, minute, and sharp. People drink coffee because it wakes them up. It tends to increase Vata, which is movement-oriented, and that's why people drink coffee and go to the bathroom. Some people drink coffee because it improves movement and helps them go to the bathroom. Sometimes it increases urination and heart rate. It can improve movement, which is great, but what if some parts of the body don't require movement. If one's stomach secretes a lot of acids, or if their kidney is already stressed, then you're putting more stress on the organs that are already working hard to keep up with one's lifestyle. Let's go back to the history of how coffee is drunk. Usually, in Europe, coffee is drunk with a cup of hot water. They give you coffee with a cup of hot water because they know that you need to dilute it in your stomach as it goes through your gut. The important thing that we need to keep in mind is that coffee causes irritation if it stays on an empty stomach. The first point is to have coffee but bring some hot water to wash it off. Which is easy; I love that. The next part is some fats that stabilize it, such as milk fat from milk creamer, coconut milk, coconut oil, or ghee. In recent times coconut oil and ghee have become pretty famous. The fat is used to cut down the shortness of the coffee. If one's stomach is sensitive, they should do that. Drink a coffee near, with, or after breakfast because it clears one's head. People don't want to eat anything after drinking coffee, and it's hard on the body. The mind may enjoy it, but the body will go through a lot of repercussions.
Rae - That's important. In our culture, people do drink coffee and also a lot of alcohol. Can you tell us a little about what happens to a person's body when they go out for a happy hour with their coworkers, have a few drinks and eat fried-greasy foods, then go to bed, wake up, and have their coffee? It's a disaster, and I think it's important that we understand that, right?
Vaidya - The question that one needs to ask is how much momentary excitement do they need? Alcohol is another expansion; it has more of an air space element in Ayurveda; it expands your mind when you're congested, but the body requires grounding. In Ayurveda, there is a reference to alcohol and its consumption in a ritualistic fashion. It gives a new dimension to the mentality that one should keep the mind under control to avoid overindulging. Coffee and alcohol are great, but they need to be used as sharp knives one needs to protect themselves. I believe you needed to make some changes in your kitchen before beginning your Ayurvedic routine. Did the breakfast, lunch, and dinner routine come up automatically, or did you have to implement it?
Rae - I started to have hot water or hot water with lemon, then some tea in the morning. I wanted to talk to you about it. Everybody's body is different, sometimes people want to have breakfast, and sometimes they don't feel like having it. How would you direct somebody who doesn't want to eat until 11 a.m? Some mornings I feel hungry around nine o'clock and would make something. Since I started the Ayurveda journey, I have had fruits or drank the green detox in the morning. It's much more fluid in the morning. I used to have a muffin or oatmeal in the morning, but now if I don't have my drinks, I'll have stewed apples or some kind of fruit. My main meal is lunch, and if it's around one or two o'clock, I'm not always hungry for dinner.
Vaidya - There are two possibilities: either the stomach is ready for breakfast, or the mind is prepared to make room for breakfast in the morning. Take an observation: I ate very late and haven't used the bathroom properly, or there was no bowel movement? Hence, my body doesn't want to eat anything. That's the first question. In that sense, there is no need to force yourself to eat. Ayurveda says it's fine to let the stomach rest. It should not happen regularly; if it happens once in a while, that's fine. Otherwise, it must be corrected by eating earlier the night before and then taking Triphala or something to empty the bowels in the morning. It will make it clear for the stomach to accept more food. That's one thing. The second thing is that if a person is stressed, wakes up with anxiety, or has a lot on their mind, the mind does not want to make room or time for breakfast. Most of us are in the second case scenario. All our listeners will say, I wake up in the morning because I have so much to catch up on and don't have time to grab something. That's fine but remember you have to nurture your body; its existence and sustainability are from the food. The mind may survive without food, but the body needs it to survive. Start with something simple, like a green smoothie that is easy to drink. Athreya has detox greens which can be an easy daily habit; one can put it in water, mix and drink it. It starts setting the tone for the entire gut.
Rae - Yes, that's what I drink in the morning. I drink that with a little bit of the Brahmi powder and the Amalaki.
Vaidya - The formula that we have for the detox greens is a great thing. Sometimes people can even make a herbal mix, like a latte. Ashwagandha is becoming famous nowadays. One can mix Ashwagandha with almond milk. People can begin with something simple, nutritious, and quick to prepare. The simplest advice I can give to all of our listeners is to change our habit of not eating anything and punishing our bodies right from the start of the day. Rae, are you now eating breakfast pretty?
Rae - I eat when I feel like having it. To me, having tea in hot water, the green detox drink, Ashwagandha, Maca, and either almond milk or oat milk feels satisfying. I'll have a nice lunch and sometimes a light dinner.
Vaidya - This routine started by itself or was an influence of the eating routine after you started.
Rae - It was a slow process after I started the herbal supplements last September. I remember we talked about it on another podcast when I said I wanted to have pancakes once a week, and months later, I still haven't had them. My brain will say, I'd like to have pancakes, but my body doesn't want it. I feel it depends on the seasons like I crave some salads now because it's quite warm out here. My body's telling me to eat certain things depending upon my energy level, whether I've exercised a lot that day, or have done a lot of walking in Manhattan, will dictate what and when I eat. I started with the supplements because before that, even though I was eating more plant-based food, I still had random cravings, either for sweets, fish, or meat. It's gradually changing now, and I'm paying attention to what I'm doing and how I'm feeling. Sometimes I need to eat food that gives me more energy, and sometimes I don't.
Vaidya - Beautifully explained, Rae. There is indeed a clear communication between the body, the mind, and the sense organs. That happens when one's normal metabolism returns. Most of us are stressed and put our metabolisms into distress by eating whatever and whenever we want. The process of metabolism, which is important to create ourselves vitally, has got into big-time trouble. If I get a lot of bloating, gurgling, and my head starts hurting after eating something I used to eat, it is a sign that my body is responding to the Ayurvedic routine. People come and ask me, is it normal. It's normal because your body is straightly communicating to your mind not to consume anything that is not agreeable to your body. It is beautiful because not many people have that signaling mechanism intact. What is agreeing with their body so that the mind can take note of it. That's what happens with Ayurvedic supplements and spices. I love spices; our next topic for the podcast will be spices.
Rae - I can't wait to talk about it because that is 100% true and does make all the difference in the world. I love what you are saying about this. We did touch on this a few times, maybe in the other podcast. In this culture, I see more people aren't aware of what they are eating, what the ingredients are, and how their body's feeling. When one's body is cleaner, they'll notice what didn't feel right after eating right away. I wouldn't realize that the eggs were bothering me if I ate a regular American diet, which included meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as fried meals, milkshakes, and this extra sweet coffee, or maybe I would be too distracted even to know that. I've also mentioned that when people start this journey, do one thing, try to have one healthy meal a day. If it's not familiar, one will feel punished or can't follow through with this. Take one healthy meal, and that can be a protein shake or a detox drink. The body will start to talk to the mind and make different and conscious choices. Right?
Vaidya - I love what you said. Just commit to one healthy mealtime a day and see how the body will come alive. We will leave our listeners to contemplate what they want to commit for lunch, dinner, or breakfast and then take it from there. The next topic we'd like to go over quickly is oral hygiene, which is important for eating habits. Rae, are you doing any daily routine for oral hygiene?
Rae - Yes, I do the oil pulling. I use organic sesame oil for only two or three teaspoons. I do the oil pulling, brush my teeth, and then do the tongue scraping. I like to tell people not to pressure themselves. If a person uses nasal oil or a neti pot in the morning but does not feel like oil pulling, they should not feel bad because there are other options, such as using body oil or hair oil. I'll do one or two things and won't pressure myself to do everything because our lives can be busy and crazy. To me, the Ayurveda journey is about following through with those practices. If you don't do one or two things a day, it's not a crime. You go back to it the next day. If you drank too much one night and then had coffee the next day, be gentle to yourself the rest of the day and remind yourself that you will be doing meditation tonight.
Vaidya - Ayurvedic approach is never harsh. It's never a punishment. Ayurveda comes with love. As you said, I don't have time today to do the oil pulling. It's okay; one can do a thing that they resonate with. Choose one of the routines and do that. When they feel uplifted and have a lot of enthusiasm, they can take two or three the next day when you have time.
Rae - It also depends on how clear one's mind is on a particular day. If one has guests over or has a meeting extra early in the morning, they can do the oil Pulling while cleaning up the dishes. One can do these things and incorporate them into the rhythm of their day. I tell people trying to quit an addiction whether it's smoking, drinking, or overspending, to not beat themselves up. As you mentioned, Ayurveda is a mothering feeling, and one learns how to mother themselves.
Vaidya - You have a bad habit; come back to mom. I'm going to talk about the two things you mentioned in the next few minutes. One is tongue scraping, which is an easy process. All of our listeners should have inculcated the habit of scraping the tongue with a tongue scraper. There are a variety of tongue scrapers, including stainless steel and copper, but make sure that the edges are smooth and do not cause abrasion on the tongue. You have to do it quickly after you brush your teeth. Scrape the tongue from the base to the tip three times: once in the center, once on the left, and once on the right. One can see a video that my son made on the Athreya Ayurveda YouTube channel to see how simple it is. Do the tongue scraping three times, and then rinse the mouth.
Rae - One does the oil pulling first, right?
Vaidya - You can do either of them first. Ideally, oil pulling is done first because it scrapes whatever coating the oil has bought on the tongue. Oil pulling is called Kavala in Sanskrit, and it's an ancient practice. Take a tablespoon or a tablespoon and a half of sesame oil into the mouth and stroke it with the tongue continually. Start doing it with the mouth and teeth closed, but the tongue should go back and forth to the back of the teeth, like quickly swishing the oil through the mouth. The first thing one will notice is that the tongue will start hurting. This is because the muscles which are never used will get to work. The entire process will activate the mouth, cheeks, salivary glands, and lymphatic system in the throat. One should do it from anywhere between three to six minutes. I do it when I'm showering or shaving my beard. One can squeeze it into a daily multi-tasking routine. Put the oil in your mouth, swish it around, then spit it out after three to five minutes. I would strongly advise flushing the oil down the toilet rather than spitting it in a washbasin or the bathroom after swishing because the oil thickens in the mouth like melted butter. Don't swallow it; spit it out. It prevents chapping of the lips and weakening up the cheek muscle. It is one of the beauty treatments in Ayurveda because it helps make the cheeks healthy and the tongue clean. By following these routines, there will be a multi-fold improvement in taste recognition.
Rae - It also doesn't take a lot. It's something that becomes easy once it's a habit.
Vaidya - Oil pulling can be done either in the morning or in the evening. Ayurveda usually recommends using gum powder and massaging the gums because it knows the importance of gums for teeth health. However, many people suffer from gum inflammation and recession, which means their gums start to retreat. Those people should use the oil pulling and then the gum powder made from a few herbs. At Athreya, we have a great gum tone powder, healthy gums. Rub a little bit with the finger, or brush into it and then massage the gums. Ideally, finger rubbing or finger massaging is better. We leave our listeners with these three to try out and then see how they feel. In the next podcast, we will talk about more oral hygiene routines and then give them time to assimilate these daily routines. As Rae said, do it when appropriate, don't force yourself; give the motherly and loving approach to these daily practices.
Rae - I 100% agree with you. It's a gift, not a punishment.
Vaidya - Yes. I love talking about these things with your Rae, and you bring out such depth to these podcasts and conversations.
Rae - I love learning this from you.
Vaidya - It's mutual. In the next podcast, we will continue to talk about eating because it's a great tool to bring back health and thrive in life. We'll talk about eating healthier and then take up another routine of taking care of the eyes. How to take care of the eyes is going to be the next podcast.
Rae - I am looking forward to it. We will talk about the spices also.
Vaidya - We'll introduce spices as we go into the eating habits and maybe talk about it in-depth if time permits. What type of spices in what season and all that would be a great topic. Thank you so much, Rae.
Rae - Thank you, Namaste.
Vaidya - I hope that you've already started your journey of the Ayurvedic lifestyle for longevity and 100 years of living. Thank you so much. Namaste.
Rae - Namaste.
Did you know that spices not only give flavor to the food but also have profound health benefits. So, have you ever thought of incorporating spices in your lifestyle?
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