My friend Jasmine Hemsley interviewed me for her beautiful website, where she interviews people who are passionate about Ayurveda. I’m sharing the interview here, too, as it was a lovely one to be involved in, and got me thinking about just how naturally and deeply Ayurveda has now rooted itself into my life.
What does Ayurveda mean to you?
It means living well: intuitively, adaptably and kindly. It’s a beautifully holistic way of joining all of the dots within my life – between body, mind, spirit, gut – and responding to all of the changes we experience around us, within our circumstances and environments too.
When did you discover it?
Shortly after finding out that I was pregnant with my first child, 9 years ago. I picked up a book called The Gentle Birth Method by Dr Gowri Motha, and fell in love with the kind, intuitive and individualised approach to supporting one’s body at a time when it’s busy supporting the growth of another. I learned my dosha, adapted my diet, adopted new lifestyle practices – and it stayed with me, and set me on a dedicated path to life-long learning.
What drew you to Ayurveda?
How as soon as I had worked out my primary dosha, certain things immediately started to make sense. I realised that my body was imbalanced and because my pitta (fire) element was so overwhelming, it had also affected everything from my appetite to my mindset. As soon as I started to adapt my diet and lifestyle, in a way that calmed my pitta down a great deal, my body & mind & spirit responded immediately. I felt so much calmer, far more patient, less reactive, slept more deeply, my skin’s redness disappeared, and my incessant salty-sour food cravings vanished.
Is it part of everyday life or merely part of your medicine cabinet/fall back routine?
Absolutely part of everyday life. Eating seasonally and adapting my lifestyle habits with each and every change in season (and daily fluctuation), has enabled me to live in a way that is very deeply intuitive. Whereas, before, I may have eaten the same things day after day, out of habit and convenience, I wouldn’t dream of doing that now. I begin each day by listening to what my body is telling me: what it needs. It might be a deep rich mug of darkest cacao, or a light zingy bowl of citrus-laced dal. If my mind is racing, I am religious about my vedic meditation practice. If my body is bone-tired, I turn to yoga nidra. To bolster my immunity in autumn and winter I reach for my nigella, turmeric, cardamom, ginger, my chywanaprash. To aid my sleep I rub sesame oil into the soles of my feet. To cleanse excess ama, I scrape my tongue (thank you Jasmine for this kernel of wisdom!) and oil-pull. It’s become instinctive… and all, so easy to incorporate into daily life.
What are your top 3 Ayurveda tips that have worked for you
As a very ‘pitta’ person, I found that the incredible ashwaghanda (an adaptogenic herb that helps the body better cope with stress) was elevating my pitta even further. The wise vaidya, Dr Apté, switched me to Brahmi instead – which is brilliant for mental clarity and instilling calm, without elevating pitta. Waking in silence. Rising with deep breath, positive thoughts and a round of sun salutations, brings me into the day in an uplifted way… and I then carry that with me into my family life. We all benefit so deeply from one another’s positivity, after all.
Vedic Meditation. Learning with Will Williams was a huge turning point for me, my husband and our eldest daughter. Being able to deeply decompress, clear the mental detritus and sweep the spirit clean, at the end of each day, has had such a big impact on our energy levels, our positivity, our resilience, our happiness.
Do your children/family eat like this? And if they do do they know it’s Ayurveda or just homecooking?
My husband (a brilliant cook and freelance food/travel writer) is as passionate about Ayurveda as I am. He’s spent more than 2 years in India, and each time learns a whole new set of brilliant things that he brings home, and further incorporates into our home cooking (we’re having lots of gentle, sattvic thalis at the moment, following his recent stay at Shreya’s in Bangalore). Our children eat lots of the usual Western food, but we make everything from scratch every day, and always eat seasonally (we grow our own veg on our allotment plot). They love dal, soups, and take in a lot of natural spice in all of their food, along with Ayurvedic teas every day, and we always reach for Ayurvedic remedies to help them through cold season. They know we eat and live a bit differently to some of their friends (their lunch boxes can look a bit different, as we send them in with warm chapatis, chutneys and home-cooked food etc, in stainless steel flasks), but it’s also 100% the norm for them too.
What’s the one thing you think would benefit the majority of people’s health for the better?
I would love for more people to begin listening to their bodies and really getting to know its language. I believe that every answer is embedded within our cells – we just have to take the time to crack the code! Taking a test to uncover your dosha is the best first step – and I’d encourage anyone who has had an ongoing health issue that their GP has been unable to help them with, to go and visit a vaidya instead. I’ve suffered with eczema flare-ups since childhood and it wasn’t until I followed an Ayurvedic protocol for my eczema (which included everything from meditation to cutting out cucumbers!), that it cleared up entirely. Ayurveda is so beautifully and intelligently holistic – it’s never about symptom, but always root cause. It can help identify and treat concerns in a way that requires a complete 360 lifestyle appraisal, but which is simultaneously practical and pleasurable.
Eminé Rushton is founder of the Balance Plan blog, wellbeing director-at-large at holistic women’s monthly, PSYCHOLOGIES, and Creative Director of conscious consultancy, LEAF (www.leafcreate.com). She is also a trained holistic facial therapist and is studying for a diploma in Vedic Healing. She has been living in accordance with Ayurvedic wisdom for almost 10 years, and her first book, The Body Balance Plan, introduced people to Vedic science in a liveable and practical way. She lives in Kent with her two children and husband, and blogs about her holistic wellbeing journey here, at the Balance Plan.
Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash