Ayur – Life
Veda – Science
Ayurveda – The Science of Life
Several concepts were introduced in class – timing, diet, the doshas and the gunas. Ayurveda is a vast topic, but for people who want to dabble into ayurvedic practices and apply some of these concepts for a healthier lifestyle, here are some practical applications:
0600 – 1000: Kapha dosha (cool sunrise)
1000 – 1400: Pitta dosha (hot afternoon)
1400 – 1800: Vata dosha (light midday)
1800 – 2200: Kapha dosha. The dull, slow, stable, heavy kapha energy supports our move into sleep.
2200 – 0200: Pitta dosha. The body uses this four-hour period to digest experiences, emotions, and any remaining food from earlier in the day, and to repair and renew itself.
0200 – 0600: Vata dosha. Sleep becomes lighter, subtler, and more filled with movement.
Lifestyle tip: Tune in your body clock to the ayurvedic clock.
I find this personally extremely challenging in a modern, hectic, deadline-chasing corporate life. It almost feels like my body is out-of-tune, and if I continue to disregard it, it’ll become tone-deaf soon. I no longer recognize the body and mind’s fatigue, which leads to many problems that I’m sure other people can relate to – insomnia, heartburn, anxiety, skin problems – because the body is out of balance. Getting back in touch with my body is definitely on my to-do list.
Gunas & Diet
Sattvic food types: seasonal foods, fruits, dairy, nuts, seeds, oils, ripe vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and non-meat based proteins.
Tamasic food types: meat, fish, onion, garlic, scallion, chives, mushrooms, alcohol, and other stale or fermented food.
Rajasic food types: Coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, spicy food, salt.
Lifestyle tip: Follow the Mediterranean diet.
If there was a scientifically-accepted roadmap to good diet practices, the Mediterranean diet always comes up as the healthiest for the body and for the heart. Here’s what it emphasizes:
- Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
- Replacing butter with olive oil
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour foods
Now if we break this down into the three gunas, the Mediterranean diet follows a primarily Sattvic diet. Despite having roots in thousand-year old ancient texts, Ayurveda seems to have gotten it right from the very beginning with food, and we now have the science to back it up! (And mind you, ayurveda texts were written thousands and thousands of years ago when dietary-related lifestyle diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes may or may not have even existed)
Combined lifestyle tip: Match the gunas to your mealtimes.
Today, there is still no established blueprint for health science. This is because every body is different – different genetic variants, different basal metabolism, different skin type, and so on. There are general do’s and dont’s, but mostly general and always with an “everything in moderation” caveat. However, broad, sweeping generalizations don’t really play out well when all of us have such different energies and different things happening at different times in our lives. Ayurveda may provide some insight into classifying diet to match these needs.
The first general idea is to eat according to the ayurvedic clock. In the morning, take cooling, earthy foods. In the midday, fire up your pitta dosha with rajasic foods and by night, take a light and early dinner that matches with the vata dosha.
The next idea is to eat in order to balance out the weather, season and climate. This means that the foods you take in a temperate climate with four seasons should change according to the time of the year. In Winter when the mood is wet and sluggish and the Kapha is dominant, we can use food to inject fire and passion into our bodies. In sunny-365 Singapore, however, we should balance out the pita dosha with more calming, cool and earthy foods.
Lastly, eat according to what you need to be. Whether you’re heading for that power-packed fitness-trainer interview, or spending a lazy weekend just resting at home, eat what you must, because you are really what you eat. (;
Stay balanced! Cheers,