In Andhra, we celebrate and usher in the Telugu New Year by savoring our traditional Ugadi Pachadi, a unique combination of fresh ingredients – neem flowers, raw mango pieces, new jaggery, red chilli powder, tamarind juice and salt, symbolizing ‘shadaruchulu’ or ‘six tastes. Tasting this unique flavored pacchadi signifies that we need to prepare for a life that is both bitter (sorrow) and sweet (joy) and we should experience ups and downs with equanimity.
One of the joys of food blogging is meeting some wonderful bloggers (living very far away from my country) and building relationships. I feel blessed to know them and learn from them. In early 2006, I met blogger and friend, Claudia Davila, who shared the same passion as me â€“ Ayurveda and Food. Although we’ve never met in person, through our correspondence and as I’m sure you can read below, she is a warm, incredibly talented and fascinating person. Claudia lives in Toronto, Canada with her artist/illustrator husband. She is an artist, freelance illustrator for children’s books and comics, book designer and art director and is passionate about good food, natural health, the environment, and living sustainably in our homes and communities.
Claudia has a food blog, Fran’s House of Ayurveda, where she blogs about the principles of Ayurveda, how to eat the Ayurvedic way, Ayurvedic cooking, Vegan and Ayurvedic recipes. She is self-taught and has a vast knowledge of our Ancient Indian Medicine. I am inspired by her knowledge of Ayurveda (from a Westernâ€™s perspective) and how she has incorporated ayurvedic traditions in her lifestyle. I invited Claudia to do a guest article series on Ayurveda, her interest in learning about it, how it is helping her and how we can apply these principles in our lives and she has been kind to share her insight into Ayurveda & Wellness. I am pleased to introduce Claudia, our guest blogger, and I thank Claudia for writing a wonderful article for us.
GUEST BLOGGER – Claudia Davila
Ayurveda – An Ancient Indian Healing System for Wellness
~by Claudia DÃ¡vila
Hello and welcome to my first guest article about Ayurveda! This ancient healing system has been around for many centuries and is even believed to be older than Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ayurveda is an intricate and complex method of diagnosing, treating and preventing illnesses, but although it requires years of study to master this form of natural medicine, there are simple guidelines that anyone can follow to feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. Iâ€™m self-taught and try to implement simple ayurvedic principles in my cooking and life-style.
Ayurveda is based on the natural elements that make up all of life in the universe: Space, Air, Water, Earth and Fire. These elements exist in food as well as the human body. As certain elements become unbalanced, we exhibit certain symptoms, and can regain balance by addressing the elements in question. For example, if we lack fire — manifested in the form of weak digestion or lethargy — we can increase it by eating foods with fire qualities, including ginger, spices and pungent foods.
Because it can be tricky finding out which elements need balancing in our bodies, it helps to determine our mind-body constitution, called “dosha” in Ayurvedic terms. Our doshas inform us of our specific balance of elements, and therefore what our tendency might be. The three main doshas are Vata (predominantly air and space elements), Pitta (predominantly fire and water elements) and Kapha (predominantly earth and water elements). A person can be one of these, or a combination — I myself am Pitta-Kapha, so the predominant elements in my system are fire and water plus earth. This means I generally need to balance myself by eating foods with air (Vata) qualities, such as dried fruits, mild spices, puffed grains, dry and astringent foods. Eating too much food with Pitta or Kapha qualities (spicy, deep-fried, stewy, juicy or oily) will aggravate” my dosha.
I first became interested in Ayurveda when I was searching for a health-balancing philosophy that recognized my mind and body as a part of Nature, as opposed to separate from it. Learning through Ayurveda that I am composed of the same elements that make the mountains, oceans, forests and stars was a thrilling and enlightening discovery. Now I can look at myself and understand when my elements are unbalanced, what might have caused it, and how to calm it, all the while feeling connected to all of life around me.
If you’d like to find out your dosha, visit an Ayurvedic practitioner to find out, or you can try some online tests:
This is the first article of my series on â€˜Ayurveda & Wellness’ and you can look forward to more articles in further posts where I will elaborate on how we can introduce Ayurvedic principles in our lives. I will also share some delicious international recipes with dosha-friendly recommendations for good health!