“Ayurveda says you metabolize experiences with all five senses, so every moment what you hear, taste, smell, and see, you’re taking in all of those things,” says CEO of VPK by Maharishi Ayurveda Alan Marks. So if you’re in stressful environment—whether it’s family, work, lack of rest—it can pull you off balance, the theory goes. “It’s when we’re out of balance that we’re more susceptible to stress,” Marks explains.
Ready get some of the oft-cited joy of the season instead? Here are five Ayurvedic tips from Marks and Ayurvedic expert Renee Posner that will help you find balance and banish stress. Consider it a present to yourself. —Lisa Elaine Held
In Ayurveda, balancing any part of your body (or life) starts in your gut, Marks says. Why? If you’re not digesting food properly, the nutrients you’re eating and kale you’re massaging is wasted instead of absorbed (bye bye, brain-boosting omegas).
Your gut is also super important to keeping your immune system healthy, and because of its serotonin receptors, your brain happy. If things are out of wack in the gut, “everything starts to spiral in a negative direction,” Marks says.
Don’t fret: Ayurveda has lots of simple practices that can help your digestion, like eating your main meal at lunch rather than dinner, and Marks says blends of Ayurvedic herbs like Digest Tone may help.
If getting on a massage table once a week is out of the question (a girl can dream), you can practice the art of Abhyanga, Ayurveda’s daily oil massage, on your own. It’s just a matter of taking however many minutes you can spare—from two to 20—to give your skin some love. “It’s a very powerful tool before or after a shower,” says Posner, and has healing qualities. Look for Ayurvedic sesame oil blend or one with herbs suited to your dosha. “The gentle massage will increase circulation, loosen toxins, and stimulate nerve endings, she says, resulting in a sense of calm you can carry with you. Follow these how-to instructions the first time, and soon you’ll be a pro.
Whether you sign up to learn TM like Lena Dunham or just practice one of these mini-meditations for five minutes on the subway, learning to find some silence within will go a long way towards keeping cool when otherwise your feathers may have been ruffled, Marks and Posner say. “Unlike sleep, where you lose awareness, you actually stay restfully alert [when you meditate], so your body is very very relaxed, but your body is also tuned in,” Marks explains. “The more you experience restful alertness, the more silence underlies every activity, where we’re just grounded in ourselves, in silence. And that silence grows over time.” It’ll come in handy to deal with the noise.
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