Modern life's got a few things going for it. We've got the internet (and thus online shopping), supermarkets, and indoor plumbing. But for all our innovations, there are still some very, very old ideas that have stood the test of time. One such system of solutions is Ayurveda. Sanskrit for "science of life," Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old tradition of Indian medicine. So what's that got to do with you and your Blackberry and your treadmill? As it turns out, a lot.
The June issue of Whole Living includes an article on "Modern Ayurveda," and how this ancient health system can potentially heal the stressed out, harried, and overweight through diet, lifestyle, "detox" massage, cleansing techniques, and herbal remedies. And to put this in a nutshell, it's all about balance. Paging Ms. Modern--isn't this something you always say you're after?
According to Ayurveda, each of us has a primary energy, or dosha: vata (movement), pitta (transformation), kapha (stability). Take this quiz to find out which you are. Once you know your primary dosha, Ayurveda offers up suggested foods, exercise, and lifestyle adjustments to put you in balance. It's like a tailor-made life plan--written by Hindu seers 5,000 years ago! How cool is that?
This all rings very true for me, a kapha through and through. Earthy, voluptuous (my word, not theirs), and a little lazy at times (their word, not mine) kaphas should forgo rich, fatty foods in favor of sharp, astringent, and bitter tastes. Think fennel, lemon, and berries, instead of brie and ice cream. We put our layabout selves in balance with vigorous daily exercise.
Vatas, on the other hand are the Gwyneth Paltrows of the world: tall and lanky, their energy is considered dry and cool. This dosha should eat hearty, warming foods, and balance their hummingbird energy with gentle yoga and Pilates.
And then there are the pittas. Strong, fiery, and competitive, this dosha can particularly fall prey to perfectionist tendencies. (Sound familiar?) Pittas in particular should go easy on the caffeine, and put their system in balance with sweet, cooling foods like melons and carrots. A burnt-out pitta may need to chill with meditation or swimming.
This all may sound suspiciously similar to unscientific dietary theories like eating according to your blood type. But ayurveda, you have to admit, does have time on its side. This is no flash in the pan "diet," it's an ancient health system experiencing some renewed modern attention through people like wellness guru Deepak Chopra and books like Yoga Body Diet.
So what do you think? Does any of this resonate with you? Would you be willing to give ancient health principles a whirl to see if they made you feel better? Or are you a naysayer who calls hippie hogwash?
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