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5 Ways Ayurveda Might Cramp Your Style

Posted Nov 19 2009 9:41am

1.  Ayurveda might advise you to stop eating your favorite foods.

Ayurveda teaches that you are what you eat. Most people are in their current health predicament to a large extent because of their diet. Suppose you love spicy food and you pour hot sauce on your eggs at breakfast. You might also experience heartburn and tend to get frustrated easily.  Ayurveda would advise you to avoid spicy and greasy foods in order to decrease heat ( Pitta ) in your body. Who wants to be told that? Maybe people don't want to hear that they are causing their own suffering, but if you're really looking to get healthy, you have to acknowledge that your daily diet might have something to do with how you're feeling.

2.  Ayurveda tells you to stop eating at night.

For a lot of people, dinner is their largest meal of the day. It's fun to go out to dinner with friends and have dinner parties. Eating together is an important social activity. But Ayurveda teaches that our digestive fire is lowest at night after the sun has gone down, and that food eaten after dark doesn't get assimilated very well. This leads to weight gain, elimination problems, and many other health imbalances. Many people will even admit that if they eat dinner too late, they don't sleep well or their stomach gets upset. Yet the habit of eating late is too hard for most people to want to give up. There's almost no way this one is going to go over very well.

3.  Ayurveda comes from a vegetarian tradition and promotes dairy products.

When I was in acupuncture college, our nutrition teacher convinced anyone who was vegetarian that the only way to build strong Qi and blood was to eat meat.  While it is true that it is easier to build strength with animal protein, it is not the only way. Being vegetarian does not make you a wimp. Ayurveda was born out of a Vedic tradition that considers the effect of food on one's meditation practice. Meat is viewed as disruptive to the mental state, and therefore not helpful with meditation. At the same time, the cow is considered sacred. Therefore milk products, especially ghee, are considered highly nutritive and rejuvenating. These days, so many people are lactose intolerant, that dairy is like a 4-letter word.  What is overlooked with dairy products is that raw milk, which is not pasteurized, is still enzymatically alive, and is much more digestible than what you buy in the store. Also, how you drink milk matters.  Ayurveda teaches that warm milk is nectar, while cold milk is poison.  It takes some time and effort to be a healthy vegetarian, which might turn some people off to it entirely.

4.  Ayurveda requires that you wake up and pay attention to your body.

A lot of people go through life on auto-pilot. We find comfort in our habits and aren't looking to do things too differently.  We want the easy way to better health - we'll take some vitamins or herbal supplements that we're told will improve this or that.  But Ayurveda requires some effort. It demands that we actually tune in to our bodies and pay attention to the signs. It compels us to acknowledge that what we've come to view as normal for us, whether it's headaches or dizziness or back pain, are imbalances that require a re-evaluation of how we're going about our lives.  It means going outside of our comfort zone and that can be scary.

5.  Ayurveda makes you responsible for your own health.

When you've learned the basics about Ayurveda and how easy it is to balance symptoms of illness as they arise, you realize that you are your own best healer. The fact that you actually can take control of your own health is unavoidable. But this is a big responsibility that is too much for some people. It seems easier to take some NyQuil or go to the doctor and have her figure it out.  For many, ignorance is bliss, and the profound wisdom contained within the simple principles of Ayurveda is just too much.


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