Ayurvedic Extensions: Rejuvenate and Honor Your Body, Mind, and Spirit for the New Decade Ahead
Embracing Ayurveda is a wellness choice available to everyone. Whether it is done in smaller, consistent steps or in grander, ambition strides, this ancient science of medicine is brimming with the keys to live the healthiest, happiest, most balanced life. And despite its 5000-year-old history, it's more modern than ever. That's why in this series, Ayurvedic Extensions, the UMA team features simple, present, and perhaps unexpected ways Ayurveda can be woven into daily life.
The last days of December always brings with it a beautiful pause. There's a lull; a quiet that seems to envelope the final days of the year. We naturally tend to work a little less (or not at all, if we can), take more time to indulge in time with family and friends, and just simply be. It is beautiful to lean into this mellow time of Vata season and up our Dinacharya, the Sanskrit term for daily self-care that helps with our alignment with nature. And it can be done in the simplest of ways—that make a profound difference.
Make a Comforting Kitchari
Kitchari is a simple Ayurvedic dish of mixed grains and beans (traditionally mung beans). It is nourishing, balancing, and deeply comforting. Prepared in one pot, kitchari can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. While it can vary depending on the addition or removal of certain ingredients, such as ginger or mustard seed or various vegetables, it is primarily suitable for all doshas and easily digestible. Some like their kitchari thicker and more filling, while others like it lighter with more broth. Whatever way you choose, this is a dish you'll turn to over and over again during this time of respite.
Three favorite, easy-to-make recipes include:
- The Kripalu Institute's Nourishing Kitchari
- Phoebe Lapine's Ayurvedic Green Cleansing Kitchari Bowl
- Divya Alter's Simple Kitchari (via Bon Appétit)
We also love Alia Dalal's genius Kitchari Jars to cut down on prep.
Indulge in Nourishing Oils and Self Abhyanga Massage
The Sanskrit term, sneha, is one that holds two meanings, each of which complement one another. Sneha means oil or fats, and also affection. It's fitting as one of the most lauded acts of self-care in Ayurveda is Abhyanga massage, which means to massage and nourish the body with natural oils (literally, enveloping the body with warmth and affection).
Abhyanga focuses on vital points of the energetic and anatomical body. It is often performed by a practitioner who uses warm oils to stimulate digestion, quiet the nervous system, draw out impurities, stabilize the systems in the body, and promote healing. It can also be performed by yourself. Take a generous amount of a wellness oil (make sure to warm it up in the palms of your hands) and massage into body using long, caring, rhythmic strokes. Aim to work in a general downward direction toward the feet. Use firm, circular, counter-clockwise strokes along the belly area, as this helps to stimulate healthy digestion.
Self Abhyanga is generally recommended to be an invigorating part of a morning routine (which is why we love UMA's Pure Energy Wellness Oil for this) but it truly can be performed anytime of the day. The emphasis is to use this time and energy to honor and respect your hardworking body with every stroke.
Listen To Your Mind—and Let It Wander, Create, and Rest
There are times we naturally feel inspired; moments when we feel a creative fire in our brains. And there are other times where are thoughts are less concrete and more vapid, when we crave sleep and rest like nutrients. There are times when we are susceptible to feeling and thinking more grounded, or are in need of restorative rest, or are vitally awake and fruitful. It all circles back to nature—and we need to honor it.
Ayurveda categorizes days into six four-hour periods that are lead by a Dosha, as Sahara Rose writes in her book, The Idiot's Guide to Ayurveda. Between 6am and 10am, and 6pm and 10pm, Kapha rules, which generally makes us feel more peaceful and grounded. Later, Pitta rules between 10am and 2pm, and 10pm and 2pm. This is a time to be "achievement-oriented," Sahara writes, and either work on hard tasks or get restorative sleep. And lastly, the hours between 2pm and 6pm, and 2am and 6am are when Vata reigns, inviting us to be more deeply connected to our spiritual and imaginative sides. "Take advantage of the afternoon Vata shift for artistic and inventive tasks," writes Sahara, "and use the early morning period for dreaming and meditation." Use this as your official permission slip to daydream and stare off into the distance.