Introduction to Ayurveda as a Model for Self-Care

As an Integrative Nurse Coach (INC), I’ve embraced Ayurveda, a holistic modality, and integrated it into my life. Ayurveda is an ancient 5,000-year-old holistic healthcare system from India. Its focus is on the individual (body, mind, spirit, senses, emotions, environment, diet), and its goal is prevention of disease and maintenance of health and wellbeing. Ayurveda is the science of the “study of life” and its relationship to the laws of nature.

I am a graduate of Kripalu’s School of Ayurveda and am an active practitioner as an “Ayurveda Health Consultant”. Even prior to my formal study of Ayurveda, as a yogi of 30+ years, my self-care was an integration of yoga philosophy and Ayurveda practices. Yoga is the sister science to Ayurveda. They complement each other and both teach a version of how to live ones life for health, wellbeing and spiritual process. But, one does not have to be a yogi to practice Ayurveda. Ayurveda is for everyone!

Ayurveda is not just about diet and lifestyle, it is an integrative way of living. We discover ourselves, through self-reflection, self-assessments, self-evaluation and self-care. As Integrative Nurse Coaches, we can use the practices of Ayurveda to deepen our own self-awareness and then guide others more authentically, from a deeper place. Using our tools of story, deep listening and presence we can teach from our own experience.

As Integrative Nurse Coaches, we do not have to fully study Ayurveda to bring some of the practices of Ayurveda into our lives. Many of Ayurveda’s diet and lifestyle tools can be integrated and even shared with our clients, family and friends. Learning about eating foods for the seasons and one’s individual constitutions, digestion, how and when to eat, incompatible foods, the 6 tastes, cooking with spices and herbs, would add to your understanding of nutrition.

Ayurveda provides a natural way of living, and an ability to bring oneself continually back to balance, in tune with nature’s rhythm. It supports ones responsibility for ones own health and wellbeing, which is innate within us. It also encourages us to discover who we truly are as individuals and as connected universally.

Daily self-care routines, called dinacharya, bring us in touch with the rhythms of the day. We observe these rhythms in the natural cycles of the sun, moon, earth, and planets. We learn through these daily practices how to keep ourselves in sync with the natural world we live in. A human life can be seen as a living microcosm of the larger universe, the macrocosm. Whatever happens externally, affects what happens within us.

Ayurveda addresses the “root” of the causes of imbalance in body, mind and spirit. Practicing ones daily routine and also being in sync with the seasons, brings us in harmony with nature. By integrating Ayurveda into our daily lives, we practice prevention and maintenance.

I have found in my own self-care practice of this healing modality, the key for my health and wellbeing, the ability to shift imbalances in body, mind and spirit, reduce stress and fatigue, and brings joy and life-purpose into my life.

As Florence Nightingale says:

“and what nursing has to do in either case, is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him/her.”

I’d like to suggest the following as a few daily rituals to incorporate during the winter season. You will find that they will make a difference in your health and quality of life:

  • Eat 3 meals a day of warm, cooked, moist foods. Prepare food with love! Avoid snacking and cold foods/drinks.
  • Get to bed by 10pm. Turn off all devices (TV, phone, computer, etc.) 1-2 hours prior to bed.
  • Drink 1-2 cups of warm water on arising, first thing in the morning. Then sip warm water throughout the day, between meals.
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