Last summer after Ironman week in Lake Placid, the holisticguru, Christine Lynch shared with me some information on Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life. Specifically she lent me a book, "Body, Mind, and Sport: The Mind-Body Guide to Lifelong Health, Fitness, and Your Personal Best" by Dr. John Douillard. He is perhaps best known for his book "The Three Season Diet", which is based on the basic Ayurvedic concept that we should eat seasonally and according to our body types.
In short, Ayurveda is based on an understanding of various complimentary cycles and synergistic properties of everything in nature. Everything from body types, to seasons of the year, to times of the day, and foods and activities best suited for each, is described by ayurvedic knowldge. Everything is complimentary or cyclical. There is no 'good' or 'bad' body type, or season, or food. These things just are, described by ayurveda without judgement. However, there may be optimal relatinships between the various parts, and putting the right things together for the right purpose at the right time can help to maximize effectiveness, performance, health and joy.
Anyway this whole topic is huge. As with many areas of knowldge, very often the lessons to be learned are too big to take in one bite. You need to absorb what you can, apply as much as you can, and probably revisit the orginal lesson and start again. Small steps. I've been applying some of what I've learned, establishing my body type or 'dosha' (Pitta), altering some of the foods I eat to compliment my type, changing the timing of my main daily meal, waking and going to bed earlier and trying to do my main excercise early in the day. None of this happened at once and none of it is complete. I am moving toward balance.
I am not in balance. I am moving toward balance.
I have been wanting to post somethign on all this for a while. It's come to the fore now thanks to the Master Cleanse post at the Live and Eat Better blog. I think for me, the idea of a master cleanse doesnt work. What I mean is, ayurveda says your body is natuarly cleansed in the spring, if you do what nature intended. That is, a low fat high fiber diet consisting primarily of fresh greens, plenty of fluids, and lifestyle changes that mirror what happen in nature in spring:with the melting of snows and thawing of ground, the fluids in the body also start flowing more freely, performing an internal cleansing routine to accelarate the flushing of toxins accumlated through the winter.
Also, through the proper selection of foods and their preparation one should promote healthy digestion to reduce "ama", or residual toxins and underdigested food remaining in the body.
Finally, through the skillfull application of lifestyle changes one should promote the rejuvination of internal bodily systems with activities like yogic breathing (for the endocrine system and to remediate stress) and stretching and massage to help restore sore and tight muscial and fascia.
The real key to this 'cleanse', though, will be to continue the positive steps into summer and through to winter. While available foods and normal activity levels vary with the seasons, the importance of watchign the body and staying in harmony with the natural world in what one eats and does shoudl remain.
Tommorow- the food.