Anti-Aging With Ayurveda: 10 Ways To Prevent Or Reverse Signs Of Aging
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, and in addition to providing you with a customized Ayurveda plan that will help you lead a healthier life, Ayurveda can also be used as an anti-aging treatment.
Ayurveda’s lens is the doshas. Dosha, is a Sanskrit term that can be translated as that which “darkens,” “that which can cause problems” (literally meaning “fault” or “defect”), or that which accelerates aging and which refers to three categories of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. As dosha means that which ages, to slow down aging, to have good health, the doshas need to be reduced through a comprehensive Ayurveda plan which includes food as medicine, herbal remedies, and Ayurvedic lifestyle.
Before turning to injectables and other potentially concerning and toxic treatments, consider how Ayurveda can help you combat aging naturally.
SEE ALSO: The Yogic Kleshas: Minimize Suffering With Mindfulness
What causes aging?
When the doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha increase, we feel them. Perhaps at first, we just don’t feel right, if the doshas are not treated, we may develop symptoms, and if interventions are not made, such as herbal remedies, we may end up with a diagnosis of a condition, syndrome, or disease. When the doshas are reduced and balanced, many people say, “I feel better than I have in years!” Why? Because with the restoration of balance, the impact of the doshas decreases.
Often people say, “Well, it’s just aging” or, “It’s just stress.” That aging, that stress IS the increase of the doshas and, therefore, the acceleration of the aging process. Aging is a natural part of life, yet, where we can slow that process down through comprehensive Ayurveda care, we benefit–inside and outside. Aging encompasses much more than just wrinkles, and sagging skin (although these factors are a primary concern for many people) — vitality, cognitive ability, flexibility, and overall well-being are also important factors to consider when looking at how to reserve and prevent signs of aging.
Before we delve into how to combat aging, let’s start by exploring what causes aging. Here are the main factors that contribute to aging:
- Dietary habits and nutrition
- Physical activity
- Non-restorative sleep
- Emotional distress
- Food toxins and air pollution
- General lifestyle choices
- DNA and genetics
Why Ayurveda is an effective anti-aging treatment
The way each person ages is unique and dependent on a variety of external and internal factors. As such, the way we approach anti-aging needs to be customized to the individual if it’s going to be effective short and long-term. Ayurveda is a natural, holistic approach customized to every individual and their specific needs. This means the treatment and Ayurveda plan you receive will differ entirely from anyone else’s. It’s a tailored approach to health and wellness, curated specially for you, where you live, your stage of life, constitution (prakruti) and present situation (vikruti), and the season. That’s why it’s effective. There is no one size fits all approach. Every factor influencing you is considered.
How does Ayurveda combat aging?
Ayurveda looks at your individual constitution (original doshic picture or prakruti) and your current state (vikruti) and restores balance to Vata, Pitta and Kapha dosha. This process gives you the tools needed to heal internally, which is then reflected in your overall appearance and stamina. Ayurveda empowers you to maintain excellent physical and mental health — regardless of age — by decreasing the doshas, reducing symptoms, eliminating toxins (ama), boosting immunity, and keeping the energy within your body flowing freely.
10 ways to prevent or reverse aging with Ayurveda
Establish a daily routine or dinacharya
Dinacharya is a Sanskrit word that translates to a daily routine. According to Ayurveda, following a daily routine is important because it establishes a pleasing rhythm to your day. When your body and mind know they can rely on certain things happening, it creates stability and a sense of calm. Also, dinacharya keeps you connected with the circadian rhythms of nature (the natural clock your body cycles through in a 24-hour period) and creates balance in your life. To create your daily routine, select a few morning and evening Ayurvedic lifestyle tools that are supportive, comfortable, and pleasing for you. Think about which tools provide you the greatest return on your investment.
Here’s an example of a morning dinacharya:
- Brush teeth, floss, and massage gums
- Drink a warm glass of lemon water
- Have bowel movement
- Eat a nourishing meal
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing for 5 minutes or our free guided practices
Your dinacharya will set the tone for your day, keep your energy aligned and reduce stress and anxiety. In turn, you will experience more vitality as you move through each day. You will see your natural energy increase and your need for a cup of stimulation decrease.
Love up your liver
Your liver plays a central role in your health. It breaks down fat, produces energy, regulates chemical intake, cleanses the body of harmful toxins, and balances sex hormones, thyroid hormones, cortisone, and other adrenal hormones. As such, it is key to how you feel AND look. Show your liver love by nourishing it with wholesome foods and herbal remedies. Whenever possible, choose organic, fresh, and locally grown foods. Dark green leafy vegetables, avocados, apples, asparagus, and mung beans are especially good for detoxifying the liver and promoting health. Visit our recipe box for liver-loving recipes. If you’re interested in learning more about how Ayurveda uses food as medicine and what foods are best suited for your unique doshic combination (and liver!) click here and book your free phone consultation.
Drink a large glass of hot lemon water
Dehydration is a cause of premature aging, adverse skin conditions, and lethargy. When the body doesn’t have enough hydration, it isn’t able to eliminate toxins (ama) or maintain stamina. As a result, dry skin, discoloration, premature wrinkling, poor kidney function, and exhaustion can occur. Fortunately, dehydration is 100% preventable! To keep your body hydrated, start each morning with a large glass of warm lemon water. Not only will this keep your skin looking healthy and smooth, but the vitamin C found in the lemons will also give you an immunity boost and protect your skin from damaging free radicals.
Clean your bowels in the morning
When you sleep, your small intestine and colon go to work processing everything you consumed from the previous day. Upon waking, your body clock triggers the colon to contract and squeeze harder than at any other time of the day. As a result, you likely feel a greater urgency to have a bowel movement in the morning. Follow this urgency and clean your bowels in the am. Don’t suppress the urge as it undoes nature’s intelligence. Doing so will drain your energy and may cause cramping and general discomfort. You don’t want to walk around with yesterday’s waste in your intestines! Upon waking, drink a cup of hot water. This encourages healthy elimination. Even if your body is not ready to produce a bowel movement, sit on the toilet for a moment to begin to create the habit. In time, with correct eating and a good Ayurveda plan, it will happen.
Get enough sleep and according to your dosha
Establishing an Ayurvedic sleep routine is key to looking and feeling refreshed. Sleep deprivation causes your body to release cortisol — a stress hormone. Too much cortisol breaks down skin collagen (leading to premature aging) and can cause anxiety and depression. While the exact amount of sleep you need is dependent on your dosha, aim to get at least 8 hours per night. In general, Vata needs more sleep, and Kapha can do it with less, but it depends on what is happening for you specifically. Read more here about the doshas and their impact on your life. Ideally, you create a consistent sleep and wake schedule based on your constitution and current state. This will enable you to ride the natural energy waves and feel (and look) much better as you move throughout the day.
Eat whole foods
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” It’s a popular phrase because it’s true. With fad diets and endless sources of conflicting information on the internet, most are relieved to have a clear direction with a food program designed just for them. They report that their food program is not restrictive, but in fact, they eat a wider variety of foods. What foods are optimal for us depends on our stage of life, current condition, constitution, location, and the season. Foods in an Ayurvedic food program bring in the qualities that balance each person’s doshic picture. Through specificity, clarity is gained, and positive outcomes are often quickly realized.
The food you consume ultimately improves your health or harms it. What people often don’t realize is that it’s the small daily choices made over time (such as the choice to habitually skip breakfast or eat greasy food) that are the most impactful. Opt to eat whole foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes, as these foods retain their natural fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. As a result, they will support your body’s nutritional needs and provide fiber for healthy elimination.
As I always say, eat food as nature made them or as close to its natural state as possible.
Use Ayurveda’s digestive detox tea
Made with coriander, fennel, and cumin, Ayurveda’s daily digestive detox tea will balance digestion and cleanse your body from the inside out. This digestive tea supports gut health, eliminates undigested food, and supports healthy hormone systems, blockages and gas while promoting nutrient absorption, which enhances health and vibrance.
Learn diaphragmatic breathing
Breathing links us both to the mind and the body. And the more we pay attention to breathing by way of a gentle awareness, the more we can relax and find our mind concentrated. That’s where diaphragmatic breathing exercises come in. Change my breath, and it changes my life? It may seem an overly dramatic claim, yet it is not. Without breath, where is life? There are many sayings in English about breath, we lost our breath, we catch it, we hold it, we take a deep breath–yet the breath of life–meaning something one depends on, is among the most profound. Breath is not something we tend to connect with consciously, yet it is foundational in Ayurveda and to life itself.
Once diaphragmatic breathing is re-established as a habit, additional pranayama practices can be considered. The benefits of pranayama practices are far-reaching. In addition to bringing your mind and body into the present moment, pranayama also encourages the pranic (life) energy to flow in a balanced way. For example, Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) will purify your airways, improve concentration and promote oxygenation. As a result, you’ll experience greater levels of mental clarity, decreased stress, and more lustrous skin. To learn more about Pranayama and how it can help you, click here and read our beginner’s guide. Which pranayama is correct for you depends. It is important to be trained in these practices by a knowledgeable person, as harm can be created by practicing incorrectly.
Practice intermittent fasting
While Intermittent Fasting is a hot new health trend and weight loss tool, it is actually a practice that has been around for centuries, rooted in the 5,000+ year-old holistic system of Ayurveda, the knowledge or science of life. These days, intermittent fasting is hyped as an easy way to lose weight fast, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what Ayurvedic Intermittent Fasting can do for your physical, mental, and spiritual self. In Ayurveda, the digestive system is considered to be crucial to a person’s wellness and vitality. When the digestive system is unable to work optimally, toxins, ama, build up and cause imbalance before eventually leading to symptoms and disease. Fasting promotes a steady release of those toxins and fosters proper regeneration of energy and digestive power. In addition to the physical benefits, mental clarity increases.
To get started, carve out a 12-hour fasting window every day. This will enable your digestive system to rest and rejuvenate. As a result, your digestive system will be able to properly digest meals, eliminate toxins and keep you looking and feeling healthy. You should naturally intermittently fast every day. Take a lite evening meal before 6pm and break your fast around 8am. This daily approach to Ayurvedic cleansing yields benefits on going.
Fasting, in Ayurveda, is not simply intentionally skipping a meal or two. Fasting Ayurvedically is an extension of practicing pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses —in Sanskrit, praty means against, and ahara means anything taken into the body. Ayurvedic fasting is a spiritual practice aimed at understanding oneself and developing spiritual strength. Ayurveda teaches us that intermittent fasting is not about the food but about the spaces between the meals. Intentionally skipping a meal is an opportunity to perform tapas, to exercise discipline.
When we choose to practice pratyahara through intermittent fasting, we deliberately choose what to put into our body or, in this instance, not put into our body. We create a commitment to not eat, and through that experience, we gain determination on our spiritual path. It’s a lot like exercising and gaining spiritual muscle.
Abhyanga is a massage performed with warm herbalized oil and is a common Ayurvedic practice aimed at increasing vitality and balancing Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. This massage will help your body remove toxins (ama), and keep your skin looking radiant and smooth.
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