Before we dive in… let’s play a word association game!
Please read the words below and notice what images first come to mind:
If you were born after the 18th century Industrial Revolution (which, let’s face it… you were), then you probably saw white lab coats, test tubes, needles, prescription drugs and fluorescent lit hospital hallways when you read the words above.
But what if there were different associations with illness and treatment? What if instead of lab coats you saw plant allies and creative expression?
Intro to Ayurveda
Thousands of years before modern medicine came to be, healers in India developed Ayurveda. This 5,000-year-old technology is based on creating a holistic, preventive, and individualized system of care for each person.
Rather than labeling a person with their dis-ease/illness and treating them with a “one size fits all” mentality, Ayurveda takes a more elemental and holistic approach to restoring balance. For example, if someone was struggling with depression, rather than treating them with long-term prescription drugs, Ayurveda would adjust diet, lifestyle and herbs based on the person’s elemental make up so that they could experience sustained vitality.
So, what does all of this have to do with coconut oil?
Ayurveda uses a lot of oil. Of course, oils are used for cooking and eating raw—but there is a whole world of oily practices to support your health and well-being.
Here are my top 3:
1.) Abhyanga: Self-massage
Benefits: improved circulation, lymph massage, adds moisture and softness to the skin, lubricates internal organs, bones and joints, and aids in better sleep.
Frequency: Daily if possible, 2-3 times per week minimum to see results
- Briefly warm oil until it becomes liquid. Be sure to test temperature on the back of your hand so you do not burn yourself.
- Grab a dry brush with firm bristles to remove dead skin, dirt and debris from the surface of your skin.
- Starting at your feet, move the brush towards your heart. Use gentle—but firm—pressure. This prepares the pores to receive oil.
- Ideally, aim for long strokes on limbs and short strokes over joints.
- Apply oil liberally all over body with same motion as you did when dry brushing.
- Allow oil to sit for 5-10 minutes so that the oil can penetrate the deepest layers of the skin and move closer to internal organs. You may do some deep breathing or meditation while waiting.
- Rinse off in cold or cool shower.
2.) Gundusha: Oil Pulling
Benefits: Kills harmful bacteria in your mouth, reduces bad breath, prevents cavities, reduces inflammation and improves gum health.
Frequency: 1-3 times per day, may increase over time
- Upon waking, use one tablespoon of coconut oil and swish in mouth for 15-20 minutes (yes, minutes). You may start with 5 minutes and work your way up.
- Spit oil into compost or trashcan once done. Do not swallow or spit down drain.
- Rinse mouth well, then brush teeth.
3.) Nasya: Nasal Drops
Benefits: lubricates nose, heals and soothes cracks in nostril, cleanses the sinuses, improves voice, vision and mental clarity.
Frequency: As needed
- Liquify coconut oil and place in a dropper.
- Drop 3-5 drops of the coconut oil into each nostril.
- Gently press each nostril closed, allowing the oil to spread throughout.
But there are tons of different oils, why coconut oil?
Great question! Lets roll our sleeves up and break it down a bit more.
According to Ayurveda, we are all composed of earth, air, fire, water, and space (also called “ether”). Although we all have these elements within us, there is always one or maybe two elements that are dominant. Your elemental constitution at the time of your birth is known as your “prakruti” and your current state is known as your “vikruti”. The goal is to create and sustain conscious practices in your diet (mental/emotional/physical) and lifestyle, so that your vikruti (current state) is as close to your prakruti (essential state) as possible.
The type of oil you use is based on your prakriti, vikruti and current season.
How can they tell what your make up is?
Ayurvedic practitioners and medical doctors of Ayurveda can identify a person’s prakriti and vikruti with pulse diagnosis, tongue reading, and by asking a series of seemingly unrelated questions.
A practitioner’s diagnosis can be very in-depth. However, you can also start to notice what element is dominant within you by taking a bird’s-eye view of how you are showing up in your day to day life.
The elements are organized into three main energies, called “Doshas”. Here is a very basic breakdown:
Pitta-dominant people are the ones that seem to have endless energy for work. They usually run warm and their bodies are naturally very strong. Pittas are highly intelligent and have incredible attention to detail.
Element: Air and Space (ether)
Vata-dominant people are the creatives. These are whimsical, artistic, imaginative, and at times unpredictable beings. Often, they have very active minds. Vatas usually run a bit cold and can be prone to dry skin.
Element: Earth and Water
Kapha dominant people are also known as the lovers. They tend to be easy-going, slow-moving and very grounded. Kaphas can be sluggish and have been known to overindulge in food, sleep and material things.
Coconut oil is best for pittas and some vatas. It is ideally is used in late spring, summer and early fall. Since coconut oil is considered cooling, it can be used at anytime by someone who is wanting to cool their fire.
Let us know if/how the techniques above support your transition into the fall. 😊
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.