Those that don’t have time to practice a healthy lifestyle will need to make time for sickness later.
My colleague and co-teacher Ayurvedic Clinician Melissa Spamer tells me that the most common reason that women come to her for consultation is that they “want more energy”. Poor digestion, insomnia, high stress levels, and dramatic hormonal and metabolic shifts with accompanying weight gain, are all conditions that respond well to simple Ayurvedic practices. In this, the first of three articles, learn how implementing one of the golden rules of Ayurveda can radically improve your energy levels.
As some of you know I’ve been an enthusiastic advocate of Ayurveda as a common sense approach to good health and well-being. This has strongly influenced the direction of my Yoga retreats in that I believe a retreat can be an opportunity to install seemingly simple habits that can have remarkable effects. I don’t believe that “suspended reality” vacations where people lay around having caviar slathered on their faces, or endless beauty treatments lasts much beyond the flight home. Yet living a practical routine during a retreat that can be replicated when you get home can be life transforming.
What I want to share in this little article is very simple and in some ways not. It has to do with the subject of freshness. In Ayurvedic philosophy preparing fresh food daily is considered the best practice for ensuring preservation of both maximum nutrients and maximum prana, or life force. What’s this esoteric thing called prana you ask? Well, it’s something that your grandmother and anyone who still shops daily for their produce will know about. It’s fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes that have been recently harvested with minimum transportation, refrigeration time, and shelf storage. Ideally, it’s food that came out of your own garden.
Here on the farm my partner and I have an extensive vegetable garden and small orchard and we never cease to be amazed at the vitality of fresh-picked produce. Guests to the farm often ooh and aah over simple fare like roasted beets or shaved fennel salad because there are so many flavors packed into every bite. Potatoes harvested straight from the rich earth glow like opals; juicy strawberries picked while the dew is still on the ground appear to be lit like neon signs behind their thick foliage, and lettuces cut ten minutes before they appear in a salad bowl brim with crunch and juiciness. And might I proudly add the photographs accompanying this missive are of produce lovingly grown by yours truly. Check out the apples on steroids!
Now I know not everyone has the resources or time to have a garden. But consider this: prana is what gives food its vitality and this vital life force begins to diminish the moment a vegetable is removed from the ground or the longer a prepared dish is left to take up residence in your fridge. Yes, that Thai takeaway that has been in the fridge for three days is . . . fermenting and decaying. So whenever possible, Ayurveda tells us to avoid leftovers, and at most to eat for lunch what you made for dinner the night before. Unfortunately, this simple common sense approach to eating has gone the wayside with most of our supermarkets filled with packaged, processed, canned, frozen and prepared food. Ditto that for a plethora of takeaway options and you have a recipe for a prana deficient diet.
Here are some ways you can incorporate the wisdom of eating fresh into your daily life:
And the next time you say you don’t have time to prepare food, just remember the old adage: “Those that don’t have time to practice a healthy lifestyle will need to make time for sickness later.”
P.S. Sacred Self-Care: A Women’s Yoga & Ayurveda Retreat, May 25-June 1, 2019, is now open for registration. Ayurvedic clinician, Melissa Spamer and I will be sharing simple and accessible Ayurvedic practices that foster good health combined with gentle, nourishing Yoga practice. We chose the Suryalila Yoga Retreat center, not just because it is in beautiful Andalusia, Spain. The team at Suryalila source as many of their foods from local organic farms, or from their own permaculture garden. The food is not only wonderfully fresh, it glows with the love that prepared it.