Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom Book Review

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the publisher of a new book, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom,* and asked if I was interested in reviewing the book. I have been practicing yoga on and off for many years and have attended a few Ayurvedic workshops so naturally I was interested in the book. I was sent a prerelease copy of the book, which is being released on February 1, 2017.


The author of the book is Acharya Shunya, who studied Ayurveda with her grandfather as her teacher and guru. She is the founder of a spiritual foundation, Vedika Global, and the president of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine.

On of the key points of Ayurveda is the belief that our body can heal itself. In the book, Shunya outlines the principles of an Ayurvedic lifestyle and gives many examples of people who have been able to heal themselves. She covers daily self care rituals, self massage, skin care, food, food and lifestyle routines by time of day and the seasons, and more. I think the book is a great read for someone who is completely new to Ayurveda as it provides an engaging and comprehensive discussion of the subject. And it’s also a great book for those who want to delve deeper as it is filled with a plethora of detailed information.

Personally, I also like that readers are able to pick out a few simple lifestyles changes that can bring about positive changes in their lives if they don’t feel like embarking on making all the changes. For example, right at the beginning of the book, there is a simple list of 5 things everyone can do that can bring a positive change (from p. 2 of the prerelease copy):
  1. Wake up early each morning at a set time. 
  2. Have an altar in your room and put fresh flowers on it every day. 
  3. Every morning meditate to your healing for fifteen minutes. 
  4. Stop eating (or minimize your consumption of) harmful foods - which foods are harmful, and which foods are best eaten at certain times of the day and the year are discussed throughout the book 
  5. Eat beneficial foods - there is a big section toward the end of the book that discusses food and includes recipes. 

One interesting topic that is discussed is oral hygiene. Ayurveda has a complex oral hygiene system. Tongue scraping and oil pulling are part of it. My dad has been an avid believer in oil pulling for more than twenty years, but I could never bring myself to consistently do it, but after reading the book, I’ll give it another try. The oral hygiene steps that are recommended (each is described in great detail on pp. 115 - 125 of the prerelease copy) are as follows:
  1. Toothbrushing (with botanicals)
  2. Tongue scraping (with specialized scrapers)
  3. Gargling (with rejuvenating and protective substances) in one of two ways: (a) oil pulling: swishing a small amount of liquid in the oral cavity; or (b) oil pooling: holding to full capacity a large amount of fluid in the oral cavity. 
The book also covers self massage and beauty regimens. Shunya offers detailed descriptions of self massage and its benefits. This is an area I want to get more consistent about. There is a detailed discussion of what effect different massage oils have. Since I’m very interested in putting fewer chemicals on my skin, I’m going to try many of the natural beauty treatments in the book. The list of face and body packs and scrubs is quite extensive.

Food is a topic that is discussed throughout the book. In Ayurveda, food choices are based on the seasons. For example, while in late winter heavy foods can safely be included in one’s diet, in spring it is advisable to eat lightly. Toward the end of the book there are lists of foods that are best consumed in each season.

According to Ayurveda, the taste of a food indicates which effect it will have on your body. For example, sweet tastes promote growth and bitter tastes improve digestion. The author describes the six flavors - sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent - in detail, including their benefits and possible problems that may arise. She also points out very useful information such as which foods are sleep inducing (for example warmed cow’s milk) and which could disrupt sleep (for example chips and salsa). Again, I love the plethora of information in the book and that one can pick up countless helpful pieces of information that can have an effect on one’s life. I know I won’t be eating chips and salsa close to bedtime again!

I really enjoyed the Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom.* The stories make it interesting and really illustrate the author’s points. Plus, the stories about her grandfather, teacher and guru transport you back into a different world and a different time.

Questions: What do you know about Ayurveda? Are you interested in the Ayurvedic lifestyle? If so, do you practice any or all of it? Are you interested in learning more about the Ayurvedic lifestyle? 

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Be well,

*Disclosure: I was provided a free prerelease copy of the book. All opinions are my own. Links in this post are affiliate links, and will benefit from actions taken on the links.