Rejuvenate Your Body and Soul
BY Advocate Contributors
December 31 2010 2:00 PM ET
Famed for his appearance in Madonna's "Express Yourself" video and dubbed the "first male supermodel" following popular fashion campaigns with Gautier, Valentino, and Versace, Yogi Cameron is now one of the world’s preeminent yoga and ayurvedic practitioners. In the following excerpt from his book The Guru In You, Cameron shares advice on ayurveda/yoga tools necessary for a complete mind, body, and spirit makeover.
Living the Ayurveda Way
If you were to consult with an Ayurvedic therapist, you would likely receive a diagnosis of your doshic imbalances based on the tools described above. The practitioner would then provide you with a list of food types that you should and shouldn’t eat, possibly prescribe medicinal herbs for you to take, prescribe treatments, and provide a series of other lifestyle modifications and routines such as yoga postures for you to practice.
Ayurvedic science calls upon us to live our lives in a particular way with the intention of bringing as much balance to our doshas as possible. Much of this lifestyle centers on how and what we eat and drink, as one of the most fundamental components of Ayurvedic science states that a strong digestion leads to a healthy body. While we can make sophisticated modifications of diet and lifestyle to resolve imbalances of our doshas, it is more important to understand the attributes of food (hot-cold, dry-oily, heavy-light, and so forth) and what effect they will have on our systems in the moment. In this section I will share with you general measures we can all take that can be practiced regardless of how our doshas are imbalanced, and the following section will provide very basic and simple ways to resolve issues specific to each dosha.
Regulate Your Time and Frequency of Eating
In the Western culture, eating has become a way not just to sustain life and metabolize energy, but also to build social contacts and dampen or heighten our more difficult emotions. We may spend hours having dinner with friends, and because the event lasts for hours our food intake lasts for hours. When we’re home alone, we may not feel particularly hungry on any given evening, but because we’re bored while we’re zoning out in front of the TV, we just feed ourselves to keep our mouths busy.
Keeping ourselves in balance, according to Ayurveda, centers on how and what we eat. This is because the food we eat becomes us, and balancing our doshas can begin with eating food for the sake of living rather than for the sake of our emotions or our social calendars. An Ayurvedic eating schedule is determined by what time it is best to digest food and what dosha we need to balance or avoid aggravating.
This schedule begins with not eating anything when we first wake up but instead waiting several hours for the digestive fire to build itself up, although people with a lot of Vata energy can tolerate a little food at that time. Rather than eating small amounts frequently, eat no more than two or three times during the day, with the final meal in the late afternoon or early evening. As Ayurvedic medicine believes that good health is based on strong digestion, it sees constantly eating as the root of most modern diseases. This habit makes the system work overtime and therefore creates an excess of toxic waste. In turn, cleaning out this waste requires more energy and at the same time creates an imbalance in the blood and all other organs. As it can take as much as ten hours to completely digest some foods, eating later than 5 or 6 p.m. means that the food will sit in the stomach while you sleep and will go to waste or turn to fat. Foods with little water content, like meat, will take even longer to digest and are best avoided in the latter half of the day. When you follow this routine, you will wake up less stiff in the morning, have more energy throughout the day, and crave more satisfying natural experiences in each and every moment with people who enhance your life.