I can’t remember exactly when I was introduced to Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic practice of massaging your own body with warm oil, but it quickly became part of my daily self care routine. As a person who seems perpetually Vata imbalanced, this simple act of self love calms my mind, soothes my body, and gives me a ‘time out’. This is definitely an Ayurvedic practice I recommend to EVERYONE!
Since I don’t have dental insurance, I started looking into other ways to keep my mouth healthy. (As usual, I’m thinking about when I get old. It’s really hard to eat without any teeth -duh!- and I’ve seen a lot of old people struggle with dentures.) Could oil pulling be the answer? Could it actually heal cavities and prevent gum disease? I started an experiment to find out.
The oral health practices of Ayurveda include chewing on sticks and eating herbs, as well as oil pulling (gandusha). Original practitioners of oil pulling used sesame oil as a way to prevent bleeding gums, tooth decay, dry mouth, bad breath, cracked lips and for strengthening the teeth, gums, and the jaw.
It’s a very easy technique, but I did notice that swishing a tablespoon of oil around for 10–20 minutes was a small workout for my mouth. So I can see how oil pulling would strengthen the jaw! I chose coconut oil for its detoxification and antibacterial properties. (When I tried sesame oil, it was so thick I nearly gagged while doing it.) I also found that swishing while I was taking a shower made the time pass more quickly.
I heard good things about the Ayurvedic practice of ‘basti‘, but couldn’t find any provider nearby so in June, I decided to give colon hydrotherapy a try. I was feeling kind of bloated and ‘off’ ever since the trip to Belize in February. So after I got back from Cancun (another trip where I made some bad food choices), I booked a session at a place here in Lancaster called A Therapeutic Effect. A Therapeutic Effect has a ton of great offerings (including chiropractic and massage) and I’m planning to try A LOT of things they have on the menu.
I am currently on a kick about the lymphatic system. I read recently that “while the blood brings in the groceries, the lymph takes out the trash.” Unlike the bloodstream, the lymphatic system has no pump. It relies on the movement of our bodies (#1 way is walking) and manual drainage (lymphatic massage) for its proper functioning. If the work of the lymph nodes is insufficient, the filtering and transport of waste products becomes impaired and the body becomes more and more toxic. If the production of lymphocytes is insufficient, the body’s defense against invaders and against cancer and other immune disorders becomes impaired. So… I think it’s pretty important to keep this system in tip top shape!
Below is a 1-Minute Quick Massage to drain lymph from the area of the face. It’s very easy to do as you’re moisturizing your face. I’ve also included a video that’s definitely worked for me to reduce the bags and puffiness under my eyes.
Cell phones, internet, television, iPods, video games, commuting back and forth, working long hours and eating irregularly — all of these little things add up over time and can leave you feeling depleted, scattered, spacey and ‘tired but wired’. These everyday stressors can lead to what is known in Ayurveda as ‘vata derangement’ — simply put, an excess of nervous energy. And an excess of vata, if left unchecked, can eventually lead to dis-ease in both the body and the mind. Vata diseases include such things as poor digestion (gas & bloating), arthritis, anxiety, muscle stiffness, insomnia and more. Nearly 60% of all disease is attributed to a derangement of the vata dosha!
Understanding and implementing Ayurvedic therapies can help reduce vata derangement and bring you back into balance. By analyzing your basic doshic type (vata, pitta, kapha or any combination of the three), we can learn how to correct imbalances through diet, exercise and daily routines. Utilizing the simple principles of Ayurveda (like increases like and opposites reduce) helps us gain control of our health and well-being.