Herbs and Spices ayurveda

Why Everyone Should See an Ayurvedic Doctor

Herbs and Spices

By Angelica Olstad

When it comes to my health I can be a little inconsistent. I’m a yoga teacher so it goes without saying that I am mindful of my well-being. However, I’m also a yoga teacher who occasionally eats cheeseburgers, drinks whiskey, and indulges in lattes, cappuccinos and sweet treats. On the flip side, I drink my fair share of green juices, eat daily salads , and while working at coffee shops, really do try to limit the amount of bagels/pastries I consumed on a regular basis. I know though, at the end of the day my packed schedule makes it difficult to stay consistent with a regular health regimen. With all the conflicting health trends out there (paleo, gluten free, etc.) it’s hard to know which dietary advice to take to heart. After taking stock of my inconsistent regimen, I decided to seek a healthy eating style that could be tailored for my specific needs and for the requirements of my body type. Enter, Ayurveda. I first learned about Ayurveda during yoga teacher training and decided to dig deeper to see how Ayurveda could help me live a healthier lifestyle.

When looking for information about Ayurveda, one can easily find books, online quizzes, and boutique spas that offer Ayurvedic-inspired services, but I was having a hard time finding information or a practitioner that felt authentic, genuine, and grounded in history and practice. After months of asking around, I was referred to Vaidya Chauhun. Vaidya is the name of a doctor who specializes in Ayurvedic medicine. Vaidya Chauhun has more than 30 years of experience and comes from a long line of Ayurvedic practitioners. He is a published author of over 90 books and founded the Ayur Research Foundation in India. I knew that this was someone who would understand the practice of Ayurveda well. Ayurveda is a system of Hindu traditional medicine that focuses on a person’s doshas – our inherent genetic and emotional composition. The doshas are signified by different elements, vata (wind), pitta (fire), and kapha (water). Each dosha has certain characteristics. Kaphas are generally heavier set, rooted and tend to be down to earth. Vatas tend to be thin in build with light appetites and a mind that shifts quickly. Pittas are fiery, possess strong builds, and have quick moving habits. Ideally all doshas can be balanced and brought to equilibrium through a consistent regimen, composed for each individual, of hygienic practices, diet, and exercise.

When I first met Vaidya Chauhun, I walked into a small, bare, white room where he was waiting for me. No thrills, no frills, just the vaidya and his assistant who took notes and helped with some translation and my examination. He listened to my pulse, looked at my eyes, and checked my tongue. First thing he said to me was: “You need to drink more water and breathe more air. Water is the essence of everything and prana, air, is the entryway to all health. You will need to stop drinking coffee as much as well, it dehydrates you”. My heart sank a little bit on that one. He also told me that I have low hemoglobin and a vitamin D deficiency. The vaidya then told me specific foods to eat that would help correct these conditions and improve my overall health. According to the vaidya my dosha type is Pitta so I need calming, cool foods such as fresh vegetables and more protein. He suggested roasted fish and chicken for breakfast, sprouts, tofu, poppy seeds, homemade almond milk, chia seeds, bananas, quinoa, barley, and a glass of orange juice every day. Foods to avoid were the usual culprits of hard alcohol, baked goods, and processed sugar. Surprisingly, kiwis and pineapple were also foods to avoid- two fruits I eat because of their health benefits. He also told me that I need to do a dry oil rub everyday, morning and night to help circulate the lymphatic system and assist with tight muscles (something I do have a problem with). For my vitamin D deficiency he suggested that I sunbathe before 1 p.m. He told me that I need to work on my anxiety and prescribed alternate nostril breathing once a day in addition to lukewarm water with lemon twice a day. He also prescribed a variety of herbs to help with my new and improved health regimen. And his special tip for when I was feeling really anxious? Comb my hair. He said it would make me feel better.

So how has my life changed since my visit to the vaidya? Two months later I am still drinking coffee and eating the occasional baked pastry, but it’s admittedly significantly less than before. I still have a hectic lifestyle, but when I am out grabbing a quick bite on the go I make small tweaks to my normal purchases. I get a dish with tofu, I buy a side of quinoa or veggies, or instead of buying a cup of coffee for an energy blast, I’ll buy a fresh squeezed orange juice at a local deli instead. Have I followed all of the vaidya’s suggestions perfectly? No, but since my visit I’ve been able to make more informed decisions about my health and dietary choices, and I have gained invaluable insight on addressing certain health needs through diet, nutrition and self care. There’s also something so healing about following a health regimen that is designed specifically for you.I feel that I now have a guidebook on the kind of lifestyle that works for me and with some time I will meet my goals for creating a healthier routine. To learn more about Vaidya Chauhun visit his website at www.rasayurveda.com/ayurveda-nyc.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Angelica Olstad is an assistant editor for The Culture-ist. In addition she is also a yogi, musician, and traveler living in Brooklyn, New York and is a regular contributor for MindBodyGreen. Follow: @yogipianist

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