Who doesn’t like the idea of a fresh start? It’s an opportunity to clear out the accumulated junk from the past, move out any stagnation, and rebuild a healthy foundation. This is exactly the idea behind Ayurvedic rejuvenation.
In Ayurveda, the most traditional way rejuvenation is done is AFTER a cleanse. This makes sense, as it allows all of the accumulated toxins and wastes to be moved out, leaving behind a cleaner slate. Then, the tissues, which can become depleted during cleansing, are given rejuvenation treatments in order to nourish and rebuild them in a healthy and robust way.
But the reality is that our modern world often leaves us feeling depleted, and we must find ways to rejuvenate on a regular basis. Doing a cleanse is always a blessing, and it can especially be helpful at the transition of seasons as well as during transitions in life. But even without a cleanse, many steps can be taken to make sure that our bodies and minds are receiving the nourishment, rest, and replenishment that they need on a more frequent basis. Careful attention to rejuvenation plays an incredibly important role in not just preventing illness, but giving wellness, vitality, and strength.
According to traditional Ayurvedic texts, the benefits of rejuvenation therapy are as follows:1
- Memory and intelligence
- Freedom from disorders
- Youthful age
- Excellence of luster, complexion, and voice
- Optimum strength of physique and sense organs
- Successful words
- Respectability and brilliance
In modern concepts, rejuvenatives (including food and lifestyle) are said to work through a variety of mechanisms, which could include:2
- Immune supportive action
- Rejuvenation of the blood and lymph systems
- Helping the body adapt to stress
- Promotion of naturally healthy aging of cells
- Building tonics
- Antioxidant action
- Support of healthy nervous system
Rejuvenation can be taken in the form of food, lifestyle and herbal supplements. These can be employed on a daily basis to optimize and nourish one’s health and obtain the life-promoting benefits of rejuvenation.
In terms of rejuvenating foods, one can look for those foods and spices known to have high antioxidant capacities, kindle the digestive fire, build ojas (the essential vitality of the body), and support immunity. Some foods said to build ojas specifically include ghee (clarified butter), dates, almonds, figs, organic milk, mung beans, sweet whole grains, and nutritive vegetables like greens and yams. Spices that kindle the digestive fire and boost the immune system, including turmeric, ginger, fennel, saffron, cumin, and cardamom, can also assist in the rejuvenation process.
As much as possible, choose fresh foods, as these contain the highest levels of prana (life-giving energy), and choose organic, as this will help you avoid toxins that have become all too common in our society.
Activities that support rejuvenation can be added to your daily routine. Healthy, adequate sleep is of utmost importance to allow the tissues to repair and renew; for deep sleep, maintain a consistent daily bedtime and waking time; massage the soles of your feet and your head with massage oil before going to bed; and try a cup of warm milk boiled with ½ teaspoon of ashwagandha powder (and the sweetener of your choice for taste) an hour before bed. For your daily routine, a self-massage with oil can be nourishing and energizing, adding to the body’s ability to age gracefully; for rejuvenation, consider Ashwagandha Bala Oil or Vata Massage Oil.
Grounding yoga and pranayama, as well as practices that kindle the digestive fire, provide the benefit of rejuvenating the body, mind, and prana (life energy). Consider poses such as twists, legs-up-the-wall, gentle sun salutations, and all three bandhas/locks (mula bandha, uddiyana bandha, and jalandhara bandha). Pranayama practices can include anuloma-viloma, bhramari, and ujjayi.
A meditation practice or other reflective activity is also key, as it allows one to step out of the dramas that are playing out in daily life and into one’s divine nature.
The final category of rejuvenatives is herbs, of which Ayurveda has many. Two of the most common formulas include the following:
Chyavanprash: Made in a base of Ayurvedic superfruit amalaki, this traditional jam is full of antioxidants, and it is said to have been created by an ancient sage to promote energy, vitality, youthfulness, and longevity. This nourishing mixture is an excellent support for the immune system, used even by children in India to avoid the usual ailments like the runny, sniffly noses and common colds that kids pass to each other. It’s also great for those dealing with a stressful lifestyle as well as the elderly. The jam brings together many of the major Ayurvedic rejuvenative herbs (including ashwagandha, shatavari, guduchi, punarnava, pippali, etc.), so that 1 to 2 teaspoons daily can bring replenishment and balance to the immune system, metabolism, respiratory system, nervous system, and musculoskeletal system.
Triphala: This combination of three powerful Ayurvedic herbs is most well-known for its ability to help keep bowel movements regular, which is key in rejuvenation as this regularity removes wastes and toxins. But its uses and benefits reach far beyond that. Its antioxidant and detoxifying effects nourish the body, allow the cells to naturally replenish themselves, and support a healthy immune and cardiovascular system.3 To use triphala in this rejuvenative way, every morning take ½ tsp triphala powder combined with ½ tsp ghee and ½ tsp honey.
By combining nourishing foods with restorative activities and replenishing herbs, you can rejuvenate your body and mind on a daily basis, bringing a fresh start with each new day.