Ancient Principles, Modern Lifestyle

How to incorporate ayurvedic principles to a modern lifestyle by Diana Woodhead. January 2021.

Diana Woodhead, standing tall

Diana says: I have followed a Vegan/ Plant based diet for over 3 years now and having recently attended an ashram in India where I studied Ayurvedic principles as well as honing up on my yoga practice, I decided to incorporate some of these principles to my life in the West.

Getting up at sunrise to do a 30 minute meditation followed by a 2 hour session of yoga before breakfast, is not something most of us can manage, but I learnt many useful hacks to my everyday life which have been beneficial.

Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga and meditation. It is known as the science of life and explains the nature of the universe and  everything in it.  Dating back more than 5000 years it has been in and out of favour, but has now seen a resurgence world wide.  It looks at the whole patient and seeks to bring them into a state of balance thereby creating a natural state of health. This balance is achieved through diet exercise and lifestyle. People are now recognising this as a valuable system of healing and it is often used as a stand alone or in conjunction with Western medicine.

The ancient seers described people as having a unique body composition known as doshas. Each of these Vata,pitta or kapha have certain attributes and these should be taken into account to enable a balanced life. 

Ayurvedic literature states that slow and steady is the best route to success and the following lists are generic ideas, some of which you may wish to try.

Diet

  1. Do not suppress natural urges such as belching, sleeping, sneezing or yawning.
  2. Begin your day with hot water with lemon or lime
  3. Eat 3 meals a day, do not snack between meals. 
  4. Do not mix fruit with other foods. Eat fruit 45 minutes to an hour before any meal ideally before breakfast.
  5. Do not overeat. You should feel energised not bloated.
  6. Make lunch the most important meal of the day,
  7. Include protein and carbohydrates.
  8. Pay attention when you eat, turn away from your computer.

Exercise

  • Take a short walk after lunch and dinner to aid digestion.
  • Practice yoga every day for at least 10 minutes. Choose a few poses to work on at home or sign up for a 1:1 or group class with a yoga teacher.
  • The ideal time to exercise is between 6am and 10am and 6pm and 10pm.
  • Avoid sports if exhausted, ill, hungry or thirsty or just before or after eating.
  • Ayurveda recognises the three pillars of exercise as strength, flexibility and endurance.
  • After exercise build in a regeneration period.

Lifestyle/suggested daily practices

  1. Set up a time and space to meditate and do some breath work.
  • Tongue scraping. After waking and washing your hands use a tongue scraper or the back of a spoon to scrape the toxins off your tongue. 
  • Before your shower/bath use a dry brush to gently increase your circulation, remove toxins and exfoliate.
  • Use natural soaps, shampoos and toothpaste.
  • You can give yourself an oil massage either before or after your shower/bath.
  • Before you settle for bed, perform calming activities such as reading or listening to music.

As you can see the ayurvedic lifestyle is very much in sync with modern day thinking. With a few tweaks of your current routine, you will develop some healthy habits and continue the year feeling more content in mind body and spirit.

About Diana Woodhead:

Diana teaching some great yoga techniques!
Diana teaching some great yoga techniques!

When I retired from a long career as a Nurse, Midwife, Heath Visitor, Advanced Nurse Practitioner and aesthetic business owner, I decided to dig deeper into yoga, so completed yoga teacher training, vinyasa /hatha and yin at basic and advanced levels at Yoga Hero in Leeds. I have also studied meditation with a zen master and recently with Swami Saradananda. Since qualifying I have also studied subtle yoga, qigong and recently undertook an advanced 100 hours in philosophy, chanting and Sanskrit.

I specialise in slow mindful yoga with a twist. I have a passion for western health; as well as eastern philosophies. My style of Yoga takes the best from east and west resulting in a balanced body and mind. I feel strongly that yoga, meditation and qigong should be inclusive and relish the opportunity to be on the advisory board of Therapy Friends and be part of its evolution.”

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End of the day, I make no recommendations for any person, but yes, I have seen friends and family be those “better people” with some appropriate substances (including appropriately prescribed medications), an appropriate religion for them, “good-fit” therapy or counselling, or any combination therefrom.

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