Ayurveda for Beginners

By Angela Glaz

500 Hour E-RYT and Founder of Eka Yoga

Ayurveda: the sister science to yoga, the medical side of yoga, the lore of life, healing through nature, life knowledge… all correctly define this ancient healing practice, but don’t quite tell us how to use it or do it.  If you’re up for going all in, you could read the four textbooks written on the fundamental principals of Ayurveda. However, you will find that reading a textbook in general is usually less than exciting and it’s pretty time consuming.  If Ayurveda resonates with you and you’re interested in dipping a toe or two in to try it out, let me hold your hand. 

Ayurveda – Ayuh meaning life and veda meaning knowledge, in a nutshell, is an ancient system (perhaps the oldest) of healing that stems from the beautiful land of India.  The main purpose of Ayurveda is to heal and maintain the quality and longevity of life.  We can do this by understanding and honoring our own unique qualities, our dosha or body type.  To find your body type, it’s qualities, and ways to balance its imbalances head to http://www.ekayogaseattle.com/ayurveda/

Finding your dosha will bring clarity to a number of things you’ve thought or wondered about yourself and your body. Please keep in mind, not one dosha is better than the other. We are all a combination of the three, but most of us are dominant in one.  Each dosha requires it’s own unique lifestyle regime; exercise routine, eating habits, and sleeping patterns. However there are other simple Ayurvedic practices to incorporate into your routine that benefit all body types. 

4 Ayurvedic Rituals to Add to your Routine 

                                                                                                                Gandoosh - Oil Pulling

                                                                                                              Gandoosh - Oil Pulling


1. Tongue Scraping (Jiva Shodhana) 

Need: Metal or plastic tongue scraper 

How to do it: Let it be the first thing thing you do when you wake up in the morning – do on empty stomach. Scrape tongue from back to front as many times as needed until tongue feels clean. Rinse scraper after each scrape. 

Benefits: Removes accumulated toxins from digestive track (ama) – these toxins would otherwise be absorbed by your body. Removes oral bacteria that causes Halitosis. Activates saliva, which aids in digestion or keeping your internal fire (agni) burning. Opens pores on tongue and stimulates taste buds. Promotes teeth and gum health – helps reduces plaque, tooth decay, gum infections and gum recession.

2. Oil Pulling (Gandoosh) 

Need: Oil (coconut or sesame - coconut oil is known for having antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory properties)

How to do it: Take about 1tbs. of oil and swoosh it around mouth for 15-20 minutes. Do not swallow oil. Spit out in garbage and then rinse mouth with warm water. 

Benefits: The fat enzymes from the oil pull out bad bacteria, congestion, mucous and expel it from the body. Helps reduce inflammation in the gums and gum disease.
Eliminates bad breath. Soothes sore throats. Enhances the senses, increase mental clarity. Reduce fatigue and Kapha imbalances.


3. Dry Brushing (Garshana)

Need: Brush with natural and thick bristles or silk glove (Try to avoid synthetic fibers)

How to do it:  Start with the bottoms of your feet and work your way up to your hips using upward strokes (moving toward your heart). Press as hard as is comfortable. Next, start with your hands and move up toward your shoulders using upward strokes. Move circular around your joints. After your brush your limbs, move to your back, stomach, and then chest, neck, and face.  (Move clock-wise around your stomach) Pay special attention to your inner thighs and armpits- areas where we stimulate the lymphatic system.

Benefits: Stimulates the skin and lymphatic system- enhancing blood circulation and the release of accumulated toxins. Promotes exfoliation and skin renewal. Helps balance Kapha imbalances – the increase of blood circulation increases energy levels.  (Especially good to do during the winter) Calms the nervous system. Rejuvenates cells and helps prevent premature aging. 

4. Self-Massage (Abhyanga)

Need: Warm oil (Jojoba oil is good for all 3 doshas and as a facial moisturizer)

How to do: Massage entire body beginning at the crown of your head. Massage up along your arms and legs (moving toward your heart). Massage in upward circular motion around face and joints. Massage in clockwise motion around your stomach and chest. Take extra time on feet and earlobes - where nerve endings and marma points are that connect to essential organs.  Let oils soak into deeper layers of skin for 15-20 minutes – follow with a warm bath or shower. (Don’t scrub off oil – only wash off excess oil using a mild soap)

Benefits: Increases circulation, specifically at nerve endings. Calms of the nerves. Lubricates the joints. Helps eliminate toxins from the body. Helps with sleep. Promotes soft and healthy skin. Helps increase energy levels.