Posted on in Healthy Living by Simone Winter

The Science of Rejuvenation


Ayurveda, the medical science from ancient India, prescribes a beautiful lifestyle—one that allows the body/mind to continually renew itself. First, it prescribes that we flow with the tides of the universe. Ayurveda says that our bodies function in the same way that nature does. The processes of birth, life, and death are experienced by us, as well as by everything else in nature. All plants and animals experience this life cycle, and even the stars in the sky are born, live for some time, and then die. On a daily basis we wake, spend time being productive, and then rest. There are cycles of feeding, digesting, absorbing, and eliminating.

Joining in the momentum of these movements creates a lot of ease in our bodies as well as in our minds. There is a natural flow in the way our organ systems work, similar to other diurnal animals. So if we eat, are active, and rest according to this natural flow, our bodies are in a greater natural rhythm; they don’t need to do the work on their own—it’s already being done. On a mental and emotional level it creates the feeling of belonging, of being in the flow. Give it a try—put yourself to sleep early. Then rise just a little bit before the sun rises so that you can be present for the full glory of this daily event. It brings a lot of fresh and productive energy, and witnessing its beauty will stimulate the right neurotransmitters to help you feel good. And try to eat your food during the day, especially around midday, when the sun is highest in the sky. That strong, fiery energy corresponds with a strong, fiery energy in your digestive system. Eating your main meal then makes for good digestion and feelings of well-being. When we live in rhythm with nature, we don’t need to put out so much energy and effort, so we grow old a bit slower.

The rising and setting of the sun are healing times of the day
The rising and setting of the sun are healing times of the day

Another way in which Ayurveda can support a life of rejuvenation is its qualitative approach to life. It tells us to pay attention to the quality of everything in us and life around us, and to balance by applying the opposite quality. It’s really quite simple: when you’re hot, apply cold; when you’re dry, apply moist; when you’re heavy, apply light. When you’re a lot of different things at the same time, go see a practitioner to get help sifting through the layers and rebalancing them. But it is something you can start doing yourself. Think of the quality of your body and your food, and see if they balance one another. Is your life balanced? Remember that a heavy diet will make a heavy body. It needs to be balanced with lighter food and lightening activity, like exercise. A very active life will make for an overactive mind and a tired body. It needs the balance of rest and relaxation. So remember: opposites balance.

One of Ayurveda’s eight branches of practice is rasayana, the science of rejuvenation, described in one of Ayurveda’s ancient textbooks, the Sushrut Samhita, as “a science which restores youth, alleviates suffering (disease), and bestows longevity” by augmenting the vital and nutritious fluid that comes from digesting the food we eat. So at the core of rejuvenation is hydration. And even though we must drink water too, we hydrate much better when there is real nutrition in the fluids we take in, so drinking herbal teas and fruit juices, and consuming soups, stews, and broths go a much longer way toward hydrating ourselves. Here is a recipe for a rehydration water: boil 1 quart of water and melt 1 tablespoon of unrefined salt and ½ teaspoon of raw sugar into it. Finish off with a squeeze of hydrating lemon or lime juice.

Rejuvenation brings healthful longevity, mental ability, resistance against disease, and delay of aging. Ayurveda offers lifestyle routines, dietary regimens, specific health promoting practices, and rasayana herbal medicine. Here are a few recommended practices from this branch of medicine:

» The rising and setting of the sun are healing times of the day. Spending a few minutes in this light stimulates your own fire, which is needed for digestion of all things entering you through your five senses.

» Eat a rejuvenating diet of fresh, whole foods. As Michael Pollan says: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Prepare them in such a way that your body can digest them with ease:

• Prana-rich, seasonal, right off the land

• Soft, light, and smooth through cooking, chewing, fermentation, and sprouting

• Different foods and food habits in different seasons

» Use oils to rejuvenate and protect your skin and mucus membranes. Warm oil applied to the skin and in the nostrils, ears, and mouth dissolves and removes fat-soluble toxins, nourishes the tissues, builds immunity, and brings feelings of well-being.

» Take medicinal plants such as amalaki, haritaki (both in the formula Triphala), ashwagandha, and tulsi. Research shows that these plants—adaptogens—offer protection against physical and chemical stressors, and produce immune system stimulation.

» Yogic practices such as meditation and pranayama—conscious breathing exercises—promote concentration, improve vitality, and counteract stress and anxiety.

Last but not least we are rejuvenated when we feel loved, when we feel support, when we feel seen, when we trust. Healthy relationship is good for the immune system. Being touched and making love help our juices to flow and our bodies to stay young.

Simone de Winter is a longstanding Ayurveda practitioner and the founder of Marin Ayurveda. MarinAyurveda.com

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