The year has just begun and you must have had your fill of parties and feeling hungover. To kickstart your year on a positive note, Reenita Malhotra Hora’s book, Forever Young: Unleashing the Magic of Ayurveda, a 150-page compact treatise on how to apply the healing powers of Ayurveda into our day-to-day lives, might come as a breath of fresh air into the New Year.
The book gives you a brief introduction to Ayurveda, teaches you how to balance the doshas (vata, pitta or kapha), how to prepare household beauty treatments, practise yoga, eat balanced meals and stay fit and beautiful throughout the year.
Hora says her grandparents were her inspiration behind writing the book and her objective was to re-awaken the mind-body wisdom so that people live healthier lives.
Excerpts from an interview with Hora:
What made you write the book Forever Young?
My late grandparents, Pushpa and Gopal Krishan Vij are my inspiration for this book. Their longevity mantra was synonymous with Ayurveda’s objective: to live long you must live life to your full potential.
What is the message at the core of your book?
Today, we live a complicated life than our grandparents did as we have consciously brought complexity into the framework of our life. At one time, we patterned our habits according to the natural rhythm of seasons, but, today we control our existence through the flick of a switch.
We have evolved as human beings but with this evolution comes ill health, disease and perhaps shorter life spans. Is it progress or simply a series of impediments to it? Ayurveda offers us ways and means to disconnect from our remotecontrolled existence and follow a way of life that is simpler and attuned to the natural patterns of the universe. For most of us, our mind-body already has a natural tendency towards this but it has gotten suppressed by ‘modern living’.
What would be your top 5 tips for readers as they ring in the new year?
1. Know thy dosha. You don’t have to become an expert but understanding your dosha is like understanding your own mind-body blueprint. If nothing else, it will equip you with better information about yourself for your next conversation with your doctor or healthcare provider.
2. Get your Zzz’s. The body’s cells and tissues regenerate during sleep so getting your rest is as vital as exercising and nutrition.
3. Drink plenty of water in the new year. This is one thing that all of us just don’t do enough. You need to drink as many glasses of water as the hours you are awake in a day.
4. Don’t over-eat. For most of us, our eyes are bigger than our stomach. Your stomach is designed to digest one anjali (i.e. two handfuls) of food in any one given meal. So don’t stress it by eating more. It’s far better to eat again, once your meal has been digested.
5. Make abhyanga a habit. Ayurveda has given us a wonderful legacy of abhyanga — oil application, which helps us detox and strengthen our immune system. Don’t shun the practice of oil and abhyanga in favour of creams, cosmetics and chemicals created in a lab. Get into the habit of having a regular abhyanga massage treatment with natural, unprocessed herbal oils. And if you cannot then learn the technique of self abhyanga. You’ll be doing your skin and your immune system a huge favour.
What is the USP of Forever Young?
Forever Young is based on the 5,000-year-old Indian tradition of Ayurveda. The book demonstrates how to make Ayurveda’s benefits work for you — whether it’s through yoga routines, relaxation techniques, diet, massage or beauty treatments. It points the way to health and beauty that comes from inside and lasts for as long as you live.
Yoga rituals for everyday
>> Vata yoga routines like Sukhasana, Bhujangasana, Virbhadrasana and Vajrasana focus on stabilising the tissues, calming the body and enhancing digestion.
>> Pitta Yoga routines like Dhanurasana, Vakrasana and Shavasana create coolness and cleanse impurities in the blood.
>> Kapha yoga routines like Tadasana, Utrasana and Navasana stimulate the mind and create a feeling of lightness in the body.
Ritucharya — Seasons of Ayurveda
The Ayurvedic year can be roughly divided into three seasons, each of which has its own influencing dosha.
>> The Vata season consists of the winter, approximately October to March. At this time of the year you can eat heavier, warming foods with plenty of natural oils and protein. Avoid salads and drying foods such as chickpeas or dry lentils as they exacerbate Vata.
>> The Kapha season runs from late winter to spring, approximately March to June. Eat light, fresh foods such as vegetable soups and light stews during this season. Avoid dairy foods, ice cream and excess oils.
>> The Pitta season runs from summer into early autumn, approximately June to October. Eat colder, sweeter foods and cool drinks. Avoid hot, spicy foods and excess alcohol as these create inflammation.
Know your dosha
Vata: Vata tend to be small-boned with a tendency towards dry, thinner skin, drier more brittle hair; cold extremities; and erratic eating patterns, behaviour and habits. They might have a hard time sitting still.
Pitta: They tend to have oily skin and hair with a patchy quality to it (uneven skin tone), thinner hair and a certain flush to the skin. Their hair and skin react easily to hormonal sensitivity and they are prone to feeling hot and miserable.
Kapha: They are heavier, stable people with skin that is cool and moist to touch, thick hair over the body and thicker, spongier skin. They tend to feel cold and break out into cool, clammy perspiration.
Coconut oil: This cooling oil is ideal for balancing Pitta. Used as both a hair and body oil, either alone or enhanced with medicinal herbs and flowers.
Ghee: This is an ideal moisturiser for Vata as it is extremely penetrating and Pitta as it is sweet and cooling.
Mustard oil: This healing oil is ideal for Kapha. A common ingredient in cooking, it can be used as a moisturiser or in bath water and skin scrub.
Tips for perfect digestion
>> Maintain a state of calm while eating. Eating under stressful circumstances turns your body into a pressure cooker causing fermentation of the food in your digestive tract and creates gas.
>> Condition yourself to drinking water that is slightly warm or at room temperature, rather than ice-cold water as this dampens the ‘digestive fire’.
>> Eat nutritious, whole foods. Canned or over-processed foods that have lost their colour and flavour will also have lost their nutritional value.
>> Adjust food quantities according to your dosha. Vata types have a smaller food intake capacity but a more rapid metabolism. They need 4-5 smaller meals in a day. Kapha types have slow metabolism and should eat 2-3 meals a day and avoid snacking. Pitta types have a strong metabolism and do well with 3 regular meals a day.