Ayurveda had been knocking on my door for quite some time before I chose to delve into it and incorporate it into my everyday. I wasn’t always sure that something so ancient could possibly hold the answers for modern life, but I’ve realised that the new health rules are actually the old ones. This tried and tested philosophy has thousands of years on its side, and so much healing power to embrace.

It was around the year 2000 that I first started going to yoga, where I first heard the word Ayurveda and got a taste of meditation, as I kicked back in savasana and had a quick snooze, or battled the to-do list buzzing around my head. Back then, meditation was this very ‘hippie’ thing and not necessarily associated with health; if you were considered to be ‘healthy’ and ‘aware,’ you were all about low-fat, low-calorie diets, eating soy and punishing workouts. There was no understanding of the pros and cons of food provenance and preparation, no restrictions on sugars, no knowledge of the food industry, or of misleading labels and 'facts' like the now-disproved idea that saturated fats are just bad for you. Most people’s idea of healthy living revolved around salads, deprivation, tasteless meals – boring and self-obsessed.  Healthy meals were salads of tinned tuna and iceberg lettuce, processed foods like margarine and ‘brown wholemeal bread’, refined health foods like ‘breakfast bars’ and low-fat cream cheese on a celery stick... You get the idea! Then, you would pound the gym for a few hours if you’d had a blowout meal. That was the status quo of ‘health’.

This way of living and eating just didn’t make sense or appeal to me. The mentality of eating whatever you want as long as you go to the gym to burn off that food felt kind of bizarre; I loved wholesome stews like the recipes my mother made and real butter, and I just couldn’t get my head around the gym obsession. Meanwhile, yoga had become part of my life — first purely from the physical perspective, then from the mental and spiritual as I grew with it, and the word ‘Ayurveda’ kept floating around. I know now that Ayurveda and yoga have the same roots; Ayurveda means the science/knowledge of life, whilst yoga is basically the implementation of that knowledge. As well as that, I kept getting sign posts pointing me towards meditation – specifically, Vedic meditation, my learning of which coincided with turning 30 and a trip to Sydney where I first met my coach, Gary Gorrow. This Vedic path comes from the same roots as Ayurveda; in a nutshell, ‘Veda’ means ‘knowledge’.

While it may have been a slow burn, Ayurveda has offered me such rich wisdom over the years. It has given me the tools to observe myself, nature and life around me, and therefore, inform myself and others on self-care. Ayurveda gives me a way and a simple framework to question what is good for myself.

All images courtesy of Nick Hopper.

If you look around us, there’s an incredible knowledge out there in the universe that’s untapped; call it the reason why Mozart wrote those symphonies as a child, or that Einstein came up with all those equations out of seemingly nowhere. It’s also a greater awareness of the words ‘consciousness’ and ‘intention’. Essentially, one element of Ayurveda is about questioning what your intention is in doing something. If, for example, you hurt somebody... was it your intention to hurt them? Or, was it a hand-on-heart unconscious accident? In the case of the latter, Ayurveda teaches us to remove the guilt – providing a way of honouring our emotions without letting them rule us.

It’s a bit like the law of gravity; it doesn’t belong to everyone or a single person, but it flows within our environment to provide a mode of interpretation that affects us all. Ayurveda is about working with the natural laws to get balance on your side, as well as seeing what works for you. Rather than ‘selfishness’ per se, it’s more about self-love, communication and awareness. Obsession with the self often comes from a position of fear – be it fear of looking stupid or fear of failing, or any other fear we have – self-love, as taught by Ayurveda, is about being the light you want to be and the light you want to see in others.

You’re not going to find me in the lotus position (although I do dream of that sometimes), and you won’t see me doing crazy acrobatic yogi stuff on Instagram. The mindfulness aspect of yoga and meditation may not be as good-looking as doing 20 different poses, but the philosophy and wellness systems of Ayurveda, with its beautiful framework of balancing mind, body and spirit for optimum health, is open to all and extremely important for anyone who wants to access it. I could talk about it all day… After all, it’s so very refreshing to know that thousands of years ago, people were suffering the same sort of rubbish that we do today – but, more importantly, had a system to deal with it and thrive!

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