I have been relatively healthy so far in the three months I’ve been traveling. I’ve had a nagging cough/phlegm thing since sometime in December and a week ago I had a sore throat for a few days. Other than that, I’ve been fine. Before I left New York, I had everything checked out and had a string of doctor’s appointments for vaccinations, contact lenses, and stocked up on prescriptions for cipro, z-pack, etc. I felt as if half of my bag was filled up with my medication, sunblock, insect repellent, vitamins, and ant-bacterial lotions and wipes. I’m using the sunblock everyday but almost everything else hasn’t been touched at all. In fact, I’m regretting having brought so much stuff and carrying them around for so long. I can find everything here and I find the quality of the products quite comparable and so much more affordable. It’s hard to believe but I wish I didn’t buy the lotions and creams in Paris- the local natural beauty products are amazing! Every woman at school has been raving about the line of Himalaya products we can easily find here; their products are ayurvedic herbal/natural and I’m sure much better suited for the Indian weather and environment.
Aside from the personal care products, I am finding the natural ayurvedic medicine and homeopathic methods of wellness very effective. I have come to really appreciate the integrated approach ayurveda takes. I was breaking out quite a bit when I first arrived at Ayurveda Yoga Villa and the doctors there talked to me about how I eat and digest/process food has an effect on everything. Ayurvedic principles state that if your agni (digestive fire) is weak and the food you take in is not very well processed, the un-digested food can turn toxic and develop into diseases. I’ve had a few problems that I learned to live with for many decades and always thought I was just going to have those chronic conditions as part of my life. It never occurred to me that any of external symptoms and internal problems were related to each other at all. With the help of the doctors at AYV and then again at a local ayurvedic center here in Chennai, I’ve seen an amazing improvement in how I look and feel. I have an assortment of ayurvedic tablets, tonics, powders, and ghee I take everyday at various intervals; it’s a lot but it’s been helping. It’s also been great for me to be surrounded by wonderful yogis and yoginis who are so aware of their physical and mental wellbeing. Everyday they, along with my teachers at KYM, make me think about keeping my mind and body in balance, using natural supplements (like flax seeds, nuts, and herbs) and through the practice of yoga.
This doesn’t mean that I will never have a nice glass of wine or will always refrain from eating meat. But for now and for where I am, the healthy and ayurvedic thing for me to do is to keep vegetarian and not drink. It feels great and I don’t miss anything. A wise ayurvedic doctor told me that I should look for “ayurvedic” foods and medicine wherever I go in the world, explaining that ayurveda isn’t Indian. Ayurveda is a way of life (ayurveda literally means the science or knowledge of life) and each country and culture has its own. I need to eat and lead a lifestyle appropriate for where I am, what I’m doing, and based on seasonality. If it’s winter where you are, you have to be outside doing physical work, and your body needs animal protein, what is ayurvedic is to find what is in season, local, and fresh, and to taken in what your body requires.
I love my vegetarian life here in Chennai but when I travel to Japan later this year and there is fresh fish, I may eat some sushi. And have some sake. I’m looking forward to it!