Top 5 Ayurvedic Tips for Festive Flow
“Ho ho ho Festive times are here!”
Late nights, less sleep; excess noise; overeating heavy, rich foods that leave you feeling bloated and queasy; too much sugar, alcohol, and caffeine that contribute to crappy moods, charged conversations (and arguments) with loved ones in person or via zoom!
With this in mind, I bring you some festive tips inspired by Āyurveda the ancient system of health and well-being, that literally translates as the science (Veda)of life (Ayur).
Āyurveda seeks to restore the natural balance in the body and mind.
Below are suggestions that help me better align with my vibrant self during festive times, rather than an over-tired, agitated, niggly version.
Most of these have come from my studies of the texts with my main Ayurveda teachers at Vaidyagrama Dr Ramadas, Dr Ram Kumar and also from Myra Lewin, Founder of Hale Pule Yoga & Ayurveda. To them a deep bow of gratitude for all they have inspired in me.
1. It’s all about Agni!
In Ayurveda, your overall health is governed by how well you can digest.
Agni is the name given to your digestive capacity and it literally means “fire”. When your agni is balanced you can digest your food AND furthermore your thoughts, emotions and experiences.
And vice versa.
Some tips for looking after your Agni this festive time:
- Morning flush - sip 1/2 cup of warm water first thing to flush the system and more importantly help get the bowels moving. Don't overlook this little simple and profound morning oblation!
- Ignite the fire! Uddiyana bandha and nauli kriyā are traditional cleansing practices that engage the upper abdominal (“flying”) lock. This is to be done on an empty stomach, ideally, first thing (under guidance if you are new to it) and these practices are excellent ways to ignite your digestive fire.
Just FYI- I teach a range of these digestive supporting practices at my weekly Ayurveda & Yoga class at The Life Centre.
-Middle of the day meal wisdom - Aim to eat the bigger, heavier festive meal in the middle of day. The digestive system is at it's most efficient between the hours of 10am-2pm. Before and after which it dwindles on power meaning you want to opt for smaller, simpler meals at breakfast and dinner when digestive power is lower. This can significantly even out your energy levels.
- Pause & Connect - touch the plate of food in front of you, pause for moment, give thanks inwardly. Set the intention to let go of any emotional tension you are carrying before you eat. Your digestion is hugely affected by the state of your mind especially whilst eating. I find a pause and connect to be a helpful tool when in the throes of family and all the dynamics that go with that!
- Post-meal practice - shatapavali. Shata means “100” and pavali means “steps.” Literally, the practice suggests taking at least 100 steps after each meal. The texts advise taking 100 steps minimum to help support the digestive process. It will prevent you from feeling drowsy and wanting to go and sleep after a meal (which is not helpful for digestion). It will also help you balance your energy and mood.
2. Connect with the five senses (panca indryani)
Yoga and Āyurveda remind us of the importance of the five senses and the direct impact they have on the mind. Misuse of the senses (asātmendriyārtha samyog) is distinctly defined in the Āyurvedic text Astanga Hrdayama one of the three prime ways dis-ease enters the body and mind. When the senses are overloaded, we block the path to yoga and we lose our ability to discern between what is too much and what is too little; what is appropriate for right now and what is not.
When we lack our discerning quality we make unhelpful choices around substances, actions, and behaviours.
Basically we are far more likely to REACT to people, places, and things, rather than RESPOND and this can get us into all sorts of tricky and "icky" places.
A key practical suggestion for sense clearing:
Jala neti followed by 2-3 nasya oil drops in the nose are a daily go to for me. Together they cleanse and lubricate the channels where all the sense portals connect. This practice helps lubricate the sinuses, boosts immunity warding off any nasty colds (or viruses that I won’t mention here!) and brings a zing to your face and sense portals.
I recommend Raginia Varia’s Triveda Ayurvedic Nasya oil products (www.triveda.co.uk).
3. Pranayama each day to keep excess vata dosha at bay!
An appropriate daily pranayama practice is a highly effective way to stabilise excess Vata dosha. Vata is the biological humour made up of air and ethers. By nature, it is subtle, cold, dry, mobile, irregular, and unstable. So bringing the opposite quality to the Vata, in this case, “regulating" breath helps to calm down, irregularity and instability in the mind and body.
And Vata being the lightest of all three doshas and will upset the applecart for pitta and Kapha if it gets too unstable and flappy.
Vata dosha hacks:
- x12 ujjayi breaths or
- nādī shodhana 6-12 rounds is also recommended before bed if the mind is over stimulated (excess vata).
4. Return to the Heart
Festive times with family and relatives can churn up emotion.
If you’re feeling reactive, sharp, angry, resentful, these are signs of excess pitta dosha (fire and water elements).
For me repeatedly sounding the words “Compassion, calm, kind” helps take the edge off any inner heat. Try it out loud or silently.
5. REST - We all need more of this. Literally resting the five senses. Rest is another key way to help keep vata dosha balanced.
And so, we come to rest here now.
It is my hope these suggestions have inspired you to learn more about the science of Āyurveda. At a basic level it offers simple tools and profound wisdom to help you restore the natural harmony of things on a daily basis.
Wishing you a contented festive time.
May you have good health, peace, and joy and share them in the space around you.
P.S- I love sharing about Ayurveda. I regularly connect with my community via email. There are several offerings I have including weekly morning zoom meditations; Ayurveda & Yoga retreats, Ayur-Yoga sessions, and one-to-one Ayurvedic consultations. Click on the hyperlink if you would like to find out more or stay in touch or catch my weekly classes at The Life Centre!