It’s taken some time, but the energy bank is starting to feel fuller. Last night, for no reason other than I could, I fell into bed at a blissful 8.25pm, and slept without stirring until awoken by the eldest, at 6.55am. That’s an awful lot more sleep than is recommended for most, but it was just the tonic. Listening to the body – instead of shoving those thoughts downward as and when they surface – is a crucial foundation of all sensible medical science. Ayurveda is built almost wholly on intuition – and an understanding that our bodies need certain things and try, very very hard, to make this clear to us.
How often do we work ourselves, flat out, making a bargain with our bodies – if you can just let me get through this week in one piece I promise to book some holiday! Please horrid coldy-bug, stay out of the picture until the presentation is over, and then I’ll slow down! – only to reach the finishing line and get completely floored by the illness we staved off. Wellbeing expert, Akcelina Cvijetic, has a cool take on this – and one that chimes entirely with Ayurveda’s own view – if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, why should your body? Often, we sail over that finishing line only to begin immediately focusing on the next line along the horizon… then the next…
My mind has been resting on rejuvenation a lot of late. I realise I have some ground to make up, to myself, and have also accepted that I do not wish my future to be always be divvied up between the spaces I might find in and around my working life. Placing your own health on your priority list is very, very powerful. Many of us launch into January with fresh new veg-loaded shopping lists, gym memberships and fitter, healthier resolutions, but with Ayurveda, it’s not about touching some perfect ‘clean’ pinnacle – it’s about balancing the body in a way that allows it to be at its most resilient – and easily cope with the ups and downs of not just life, but dietary lapse too.
I have never believed that achieving good health should be hard. It should not be painful. It should not be a sacrifice. Ayurveda is on the same page. It’s the small, daily steps that get us to that satisfying healthy, vital end goal, far more gently, and sustainably, than the absolute rigidity of those new year resolutions. It’s also about paying attention. I’ve been craving seasonal vegetables as strongly as I would once, ordinarily have craved a Wispa… I can see how different things are now, after 6 years living Ayurvedically (and how much healthier I am, which feels like the utmost blessing). We’ve been chopping up warm salads, whipping up zesty-spicy dressings, pulling up the remaining beets and chard stalks, and enjoying it all – feeling the internal wellness barometer rising with each mouthful. Oh, glorious food.
To this end, my next few posts shall be focused on herbs, teas, tinctures and tonics – all Ayurveda-approved – that really can help to make that crucial difference between sinking and swimming. I would also urge you (if you have not already), to take our Discover your Dosha test, which will give you a valuable headstart in determining how best to support your unique body type (it’s free and quick!).
Since adding a few rejuvenating herbs to my regime (I owe Sebastian Pole a big nod for this, as his chapter in his book, A Pukka Life, first introduced me to the power of several of these), I’ve really started to feel that balancing and bolstering within my body and mind.
If you’re feeling down, search out Tulsi. It is most commonly found in tea form, and is used in many different ways – to help stave off the start of a cold (you know when you begin to feel shivery, cold, achy: ‘something’ is coming – drink it then!), but also to lift spirits and brighten a mind that has settled into gloom. It’s a wonderful daily balancer, and I always feel calmed and soothed whenever I brew it up and enjoy (particularly in the winter).
If your immune system and energy levels are on the wane, a great daily dose of Reishi (a potent mushroom), is recommended. My good friend, nutritional therapist, Eve Kalinik posted a pot of these to me after I got struck down with an infection last year, and I noticed a speedier than usual return to health. I’ve carried on taking them – they also reduce inflammation, boost energy release and can even help to lower cholesterol.
I first had turmeric milk (made by steeping thin slices of turmeric in nut milk), five years ago on an Ayurvedic retreat, and loved how well it seemed to agree with my body, and empty morning stomach. It’s difficult to overemphasise the potency and importance of turmeric – knowing just how incredible it is for countering inflammation, it is one of those can’t-do-without wonders that I try to get into my body every single day. My little girls aren’t fond of the nut milk, but they really like it when I mix a pinch of ground cinnamon, pinch of ground ginger, with a few thin peeled slices of turmeric root, added to warm water, with a dash of raw honey (don’t add your honey to boiling water – it makes it toxic). It tastes like a fragrant and sweet tea (similar to the Turkish ‘kokulu’ tea they’ve had since babyhood). I even pour it in my eldest’s water bottle to take to school, knowing she’ll be getting the immune benefits throughout the length of the day too.
Turmeric Milk image c/o Madeleine Shaw (her lovely recipe can be found here)