You don’t need to practice yoga to bring the healing benefits of Ayurveda into your life. The phenomenon of being grounded involves being centered, focused, embodied, and in better control of all of your faculties. It is a helpful state of being for reducing anxiety, dealing with depression, and addressing trauma. Here are nine things anyone can do today to begin a journey to wellness.
Walk in the Grass in Bare Feet
What it is: Take off your shoes and allow the soles of your feet to come in contact with the sand, grass, rocks, or soil.
Why it works: People who talk about the phenomenon of ‘earthing’ describe the electron transfer between living systems and the electromagnetic field of the earth. That may sound a bit esoteric, but research does confirm the antioxidant effects of walking barefoot on the earth. Some of the additional benefits include stimulation of reflexology points on the feet as well as articulation of the joints of the foot and the benefits of the massaging action of walking barefoot on the fascia and other tissues of the feet.
What it is: The Japanese name for this practice is Shinrin-Yoku. Distinct from hiking, forest bathing is the practice of simply spending time in nature without any agenda. You can be in a remote area or even a park or urban forest to experience the benefits. Find a spot you love that is easy to access and just go outside. Refrain from text messaging.
Why it works: Proven stress relief comes from spending unstructured time in nature. There is a growing body of research that confirms the benefits, which include: stress reduction, improved immune system function, and a reduction in anxiety and depression.
What it is: Just like it sounds, gardening (called horticultural therapy) has benefits in addition to eating the fresh tomatoes you have grown.
Why it works: Gardening is shown to reduce depression, uplift mood, and improve memory. Some of this may be related to the effects of being outside in the sunshine and fresh air, as well as enjoying the benefits of moving and getting exercise. There is also a body of research that reveals that being exposed to soil microbes actually has a similar effect on the brain and nervous system as some anti-depressants.
Begin with the Breath to Calm the Nervous System
Breath is important for healing the effects of trauma. Remember that our breath is a constant companion for us throughout our day. The times we spend, in and around our homes, in the forest, on the yoga mat, or the meditation cushion provide us with the practice that allows us to bring our attention to our breath in stressful moments. Examples of this can be everything from driving in the car, flying, giving a presentation at—or just going to—work, taking an exam, or—well—just about everything. Make it a practice to simply pause and take a deep breath. Make it a habit to slow down the pace of your breath whenever you can. Think of it as an instantaneous attitude adjustment.
Ayurvedic Hacks to Improve Digestion
Health in the body begins with digestion. According to Ayurveda, we’re not only what we eat, we are what we digest. How well we digest our food sets us up for how well we are able to absorb the building blocks of everything from the neurotransmitters that manage our mood, to the hormones that control our homeostasis, to the tissue of our bones and muscles that literally support us. Here are a few tips to improve your digesting and thus your mental health.
When You are Eating, Eat
We love multitasking, but bringing our attention and awareness to our food helps us enjoy more efficient digestion. Paying attention to our food really does make a difference. Also, when you’re reading or watching something while you’re eating, you’re also eating that too. Think about it...do you really want to eat today’s news or yesterday’s gossip? When you pay attention to your food, you may even slow down and feel more satisfied.
Why it works: Mindful eating or what is also called attentive eating helps with weight control as well as stress reduction. Eating mindfully is also an important remedy for addressing the negative effects of trauma.
Hot Water with Lemon
Start out your day with some hot water with lemon or sip on it throughout the day. I do this every single morning, along with an affirmation or intention before drinking it. This classic Ayurvedic recommendation is simple yet effective. You don’t have to give up your coffee or your favorite morning beverage, just add this to your morning.
Why it works: Beginning your day with a bit of clarity has powerful detoxifying effect. When we encourage detoxification, even just a little bit, we can help release anything we may be holding onto. This can include physical metabolic waste as well as any mental clutter.
Leave Time between Meals
Allow yourself time to digest one meal before eating the next one. Depending on your own metabolism, you may be eating a few small meals with snacks or you may just be eating meals. Either way, give yourself some time and space between sitting down to eat and pay attention to your food as you eat it.
Drinking herbal tea, such as ginger, peppermint, lavender, tulsi, turmeric, or cinnamon can help stimulate digestion, improve detoxification, and strengthen the immune system.
Turmeric as an Anti-inflammatory
The spice turmeric is related to ginger and has a long history of use in Ayurveda because it reduces inflammation. It has received attention in modern scientific research for this effect.
Turmeric is best taken with food, and having turmeric with some form of fat helps increase the absorption of the active curcuminoids (natural chemical compounds in found in turmeric that scientists believe have anti-inflammatory effects). There are studies that show that black pepper can increase the bioavailability of some of the compounds in turmeric, but turmeric is effective even if taken without black pepper.
Add turmeric to food and recipes, try taking capsules or other supplements, slice the fresh root and boil it for tea, or make golden milk.
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