It is undeniable that conscious living seems to have taken ahold of the wellness world. Two key movements have emerged: a touch of sustainability here, frequent mentions of Ayurveda based teachings there. With good reason – both schools of thought have existed for centuries on end and been adopted across a plethora of cultures and nations.
While Ayurveda is the science of life, finding its origins in ancient Indian rituals from over 5000 years ago, the ever growing sustainability movement calls for a more considerate use of resources in order to preserve our world to the best of our ability. While seemingly different concepts, both undoubtedly call for a more mindful approach to living in order to safeguard the planet for future generations. They find common ground in adopting a simple, seasonal and sensible lifestyle that encourages synchronising with our surrounding ecosystem.
While the current cries for a more sustainable society are rising- and rightly so, some may be surprised to hear that it has an undeniable connection to the Ayurvedic practices and principles of yesteryear.
Think of Ayurveda as your own personalised toolkit for living the most optimal life. Optimal in mind, body & soul.
It is said that one truly connects with oneself upon discovering and living according to their prominent dosha, which are defined by the elements of air, fire and water, known in dosha terms as vata, pitta and kapha. It is not uncommon for many to have that ‘aha’ moment upon identifying with their doshic qualities; these very often explain and our body type and shape, common symptoms experienced when ill, how our digestion functions and even things as specific as the nature of our skin, nails and hair. For example, when air-y vatas are off-balance, they often experience dry skin, weak, sluggish digestion and cracked nails, while fire-y pittas may experience regular heartburn, rage and hot flushes.
Each dosha has a specific list of foods, daily rituals and practices to implement and focus on, in order to remain both grounded and balanced. Despite a few different ingredients here and there, on the whole Ayurvedic living favours cooked, warm foods in the winter, such as root vegetables and more cooling fruits in the summer, like berries and melon.
A more sustainable lifestyle is similarly pursued by eating in accordance with the seasons, sourcing produce from local suppliers and avoiding food waste where possible. Like Ayurveda, it proposes that we turn to ingredients that are ripe and abundant at particular times of the year. Plant power too takes centre stage. Sustainable living prioritises seasonal fruits and vegetables with minimal consumption of meat and dairy- two saturated industries, which are significantly more taxing on our environment.
From this gastronomical perspective it becomes clearer how close Ayurveda and sustainability truly are. Both show that optimal nutrition and nourishment comes from eating seasonally and organically where you can. Despite simplicity being at the heart of both, this most certainly doesn’t mean boredom or restriction. Rather taking enjoyment from nourishing the body, mind and planet, by consuming resources and delicacies that are already available to us. In this sense, and on a bigger note, both encourage us to rewire the way in which we think and the impact that this has on the way we treat our planet.
Instead of seeking out what we don’t have and always desiring beyond our means or availability, both Ayurvedic and sustainable living encourage us to fully acknowledge, appreciate and immerse ourselves in all that we already have around us, rather than that which we do not.
Both Ayurveda and sustainable living also have a similar hurdle to overcome: to educate and raise awareness of their multi-faceted nature. It’s important that we understand that Ayurvedic living goes far deeper than the media hitting headlines of today, championing the power of turmeric and meditation. It not only draws upon how one eats, but also thinks, breathes, moves and feels. When all these elements co-exist in balance, the individual is totally in sync and in harmony with oneself, and the environment in which they live.
Like Ayurveda, sustainable living is founded on the pretence of co-existing with one’s surrounding ecosystem, rather than fighting it and trying to create or push for resources and materials that are simply not there. When pondering on sustainability, many like Ayurveda, come to think predominantly of the food element; sustainable farming or eating. Again, making seasonal food choices that are in tune with the environment plays a key part in the sustainable movement, but it is not everything. Once more, it is important to move beyond the glaringly obvious and towards other equally important areas; think sustainable transportation, apparel, consumption of energy, and just generally looking to make each of our choices with the world and our surroundings in mind.
Both movements undoubtedly empower the individual by encouraging him or her to better align with not only themselves, but with all that surrounds them. With small tweaks in our lifestyles, we can all move towards becoming more balanced and conscious individuals that collaborate, rather than compete with the world we live in today.