Ayurvedic Self-Care–The Key to Wellness

“Sama dosha sama agnishcha sama dhatu mala kriya; prasanna atma indriya manah svastha iti abhideyate.”

(Sushruta Samhita)

 “Balanced dosha, balanced digestive fire, balanced bodily tissues, elimination and function; contented soul, senses, and mind. These are said to constitute health.”

 

 In Ayurveda and in Yoga, there is an emphasis on connecting with the self…indeed, the Sanskrit word used for health, in the most famous sutra defining health, is swastha.  “Swa” means self and “Stha” means residing in or centered in.  The “self” is that part of us that is connected to our higher purpose and that is a smaller part of the greater universal “self.”

Self-care, or dinacharya (daily routine) is a key component to achieving and maintaining connection with the self and staying centered there.  There is a strong emphasis on preventative care in Ayurveda as it is easier to stay healthy than to have to address diseased states.  Self-care is preventative care and it grounds us in the reality of our actual needs.

 When we are aware and listening to our “self” it is far less likely that we will choose activities or actions that are self-harming or that cause imbalance or disease.  Taking care of the body by ensuring that it is properly maintained–with daily hygiene, dosha management and a healthy, nutritious diet–makes it possible for us to actually achieve our goals and to face life with the surety that we can cope with what is asked of us.

Additionally,  mind and spirit need proper care with regular meditation or prayer or connection to that which is greater than our selves.  Fundamentally, getting control of one’s own mind is the chief aim of yoga.  This is so that we see and know clearly what is occurring and so that we can properly respond.  Ayurveda agrees that cultivating a Sattvic state, where the mind is unclouded and under control is necessary for health.

Fall is the perfect time to focus on self-care.  Here in coastal California, it is the time to plant perennials and shrubs that can take advantage of the winter rains to set the foundation that they will need to weather the long, dry period that will start in April/May and that might last until October or November.   We can do the same in Fall, taking advantage of the longer nights and shorter days to turn our attention inward and to cultivate habits, or daily routines, that support and nurture us so that we can blossom in spring time.

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