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Embrace Renewal with These Ayurvedic Mindfulness Practices
Happy New Year from us at UMA! We sincerely hope that this holiday season has been one filled with good health, rest, rejuvenation and meaningful time spent (safely, of course) with loved ones. The long-term effects of the immense challenges of 2020 have led many to feel exhausted, burnt out and lonely by the end of 2021. Especially given worldwide lockdowns and an increasing shift to work-from-home setups, it may feel natural to want to avoid confronting the hardships of the past year and to block out the external world. At the same time, however, it is becoming increasingly necessary to look to the world around us and to consider our rightful place in it. Furthermore, looking outside of ourselves can even help us develop a profound and newfound gratitude for the labor of both essential workers and our loved ones that has been vital to helping us get this far.
Ayurveda certainly emphasizes the necessity of perceiving ourselves as part of a larger external environment. In fact, given that Ayurvedic tradition posits the fundamental interconnectedness of mind, body, spirit and the environment, the act of cutting oneself off from the external world can lead to inner imbalances that result in tangible effects on our mental health and wellbeing. So let’s start 2022 off with a focus on mindfulness by paying close attention to both our internal state and to the world around us. Mindfulness not only helps us feel more connected to ourselves, but it also allows us to feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Here are 3 simple mindfulness practices to incorporate into your routine this year—just a few minutes out of every day will go a long way toward transforming one’s outlook.
Meditation is a powerful mindfulness practice that enhances one’s present awareness of the moment and one’s attunement to oneself and the world around them. On an immediate level, the practice of meditation leaves one feeling recentered, grounded and motivated, instilling them with renewed attention to one’s surroundings. On a long-term (and perhaps more profound) level, meditation strengthens one’s mental focus, enabling an improved capacity for concentration and attention. Furthermore, research has shown that meditation also improves impulse control and promotes a more thorough decision-making process. The benefits of meditation on our mental health and wellbeing are immense.
It can take time to cultivate an effective, regular meditation practice. To start, we recommend taking 20 minutes each day to sit in silence and focus on your breath; from there, you can work on focusing inward and becoming fully aware of your presence. At first, it might feel natural for your mind to stray to other thoughts, and each dosha faces different challenges when it comes to meditation. We’ve put together this helpful guide on how to meditate according to your dosha—check it out for a more in-depth account of how to dive into the transformative practice of meditation.
Yoga is an ancient practice with immense benefits on our mental and physical health, overall wellness and even our skin. Those who have tried out yoga know the immense feeling of relaxation, tranquility and rejuvenation that takes over the mind and body after a particularly renewing session. As research has shown, yoga lowers our breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, lowers cortisol levels, increases blood flow and more. In addition to these potent and numerous health benefits, it also alleviates stress and anxiety, instilling a sense of groundedness and motivation. What’s more, several studies have shown that yoga improves circulation and combats inflammation, which not only reduces the effects of conditions like hypertension, but also promotes a radiant and glowing complexion.
Fortunately, in today’s world, there exist an endless number of useful resources for those who are new to yoga, or those who want to rekindle or continue an ongoing yoga practice. There are many yoga practitioners on Youtube who post at-home yoga videos to which you can follow along, for example. We’ve also posted a number of blogs outlining simple yoga techniques, including a guide to how to tailor your practice to your dosha, a list of our favorite face yoga techniques and a list of poses that help promote radiant skin.
3. Ayurvedic Home Cooking
One excellent way to cultivate mindfulness as it relates to our diet and health is to make a home-cooked meal with natural, organic Ayurvedic ingredients. Understanding the ingredients we put into our body helps us develop a more proactive relationship to our health and allows us to feel more connected to the food that we eat. One recipe we recommend that all try to cook for themselves is kitchari, a simple Ayurvedic dish comprised of mixed grains and beans or lentils, in part because it is a dish that is suitable for all doshas. Protein-rich and restorative, this calming dish simultaneously detoxes and nourishes the body. You can eat it when you’re feeling under the weather or simply when you feel like you need an extra-detoxifying boost of nutrients. If you’re interested in learning more about kitchari, we have a guide to this versatile dish here.
Three of our favorite kitchari recipes include:
- Sarah Britton’s simple one-pot recipe
- Phoebe Lapine's Cleansing Green Kitchari Bowl
- Dillon of Oh, Holy Basil’s slightly more elaborate 3 Day Ayurvedic Kitchari Cleanse
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