Joining in the momentum of these movements creates a lot of ease in our bodies, as well as in our minds. There is a natural flow in the way our organ systems work. Similar to “other” diurnal animals. So if we eat, are active, and rest according to this natural flow, our bodies are in a greater natural rhythm; they don’t need to do the work on their own, it’s already being done. On a mental emotional level it creates the feeling of belonging, of being in the flow. Give it a try… put yourself to sleep early… think of it, the sun is down by 5:30 right now. Then rise just a little bit before the sun rises, so that you can be present for the full glory of this daily event. It brings a lot of fresh and productive energy, and witnessing its beauty will stimulate the right neurotransmitters to help you feel good. And try to eat your food during the day; especially around mid-day when the sun is highest in the sky. That strong fiery energy corresponds with a strong fiery energy in your digestive system. Eating your main meal then makes for good digestion and ensuing feelings of well-being. When we live in rhythm with nature we don’t need to put out so much energy and effort, so we grow old a bit slower.
Another way in which Ayurveda can support a life of rejuvenation is its qualitative approach to life. It tells us to pay attention to the quality of everything in us and life around us, and to balance by applying its opposite quality. It’s really quite simple… when you’re hot, apply cold, when you’re dry, apply moist, when you’re heavy, apply light. When you’re a lot of different things at the same time, go see a practitioner to get help sifting through the different layers and balancing them. But it is something you can start doing yourself. Think of the quality of your body, and then of your food and see if they balance one another. And of your life, is it a balanced life? Remember that a heavy diet will make a heavy body. It needs to be balanced with lighter food and lightening activity, like exercise. A very active life will make for an overactive mind and tired body. It needs the balance of rest and relaxation. So remember here… Opposites balance.
One of Ayurveda’s eight branches of practice is “rasayana”, the science of rejuvenation, described in one of Ayurveda’s ancient textbooks – the Sushrut Samhita – as “a science which restores youth, alleviates suffering (disease) and bestows longevity” by augmenting the vital and nutritious fluid that comes from digesting the food we eat. So at the core of rejuvenation is hydration. And even though we must drink water too, we hydrate much better when there is real nutrition in the fluids we take in, so drinking herbal teas, fruit juices, and consuming soups, stews and broths go a much longer way in hydrating ourselves. Here also is a recipe for a rehydration water: Boil 1 quart of water and melt 1 tablespoon of unrefined salt and ½ teaspoon of raw sugar into it. Finish off with a squeeze of hydrating lemon or lime juice.
Rejuvenation brings healthful longevity, mental ability, resistance against disease and delay of aging. Ayurveda offers lifestyle routines as per above, dietary regimen, specific health promoting practices and rasayana herbal medicine. A few recommended practices from this branch of medicine are as follows:
- The rising and setting of the sun are healing times of the day. Spending a few minutes in this light stimulates your own fire, which is needed for digestion of all things entering you through your five senses.
- Eat a rejuvenating diet of fresh whole foods. Like Michael Pollan says: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Prepare them in a way that your body can digest them with ease.
- Prana-rich, seasonal, right off the land.
- Soft, light and smooth, through cooking, chewing, fermentation and sprouting.
- Different foods and food habits in different seasons
- Use oils to rejuvenate and protect your skin and mucus membranes. Warm oil applied on the skin, in the nostrils, in the ears, in the mouth, dissolves and removes fat soluble toxins, nourishes the tissues, builds immunity, and brings feelings of well-being.
- Take medicinal plants such as amalaki, haritaki (both in the formula triphala), ashwaganda and tulsi are in the category of rasayana herbs. Research shows that these plants – adaptogens - offer protection against physical and chemical stressors and produce immune-stimulation.
- Yogic practices such as meditation and pranayama – conscious breathing exercises – promote concentration, improve vitality and counteract stress and anxiety.
And last but not least we are rejuvenated when we feel loved, when we feel support, when we feel seen, when we trust. Healthy relationship is good for the immune system. Being touched and making love help our juices to flow and our bodies to stay young.