We all know aging is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be a downhill struggle. With the wisdom of Ayurveda for longevity, we can learn how to age gracefully and with ease. By getting to know how we are made, cultivating healthy habits and practices that suit our constitutions, and understanding this perennial wisdom properly, we may be able to achieve optimal health.  

What is Optimal Health?

Ayurveda means The Science of Life in Sanskrit, so you can bet it understands how to keep a person in optimal health. But what does that mean? The ancient sages of Ayurveda said that health is the result of:

  • Proper digestion and elimination of waste materials
  • Proper formation of tissues
  • Proper functioning of mind
  • Proper use of the senses

The actual Sanskrit word for health is Swastha. Swa meaning Self, and Stha meaning stable, established and steady. So the Ayurvedic definition of health is to be properly established and stable in the self. Properly rooted and comfortable in one’s own being. This is a body, mind, spirit thing: as in all three factors of our being have to be well in order for us to be healthy according to Ayurveda. 

The Tenets of Optimal Health for Longevity

Understanding these tenets becomes the bedrock for achieving optimal health and supporting longevity in Ayurveda.

Proper Digestion & Elimination of Waste Materials 

The first line of healing in Ayurveda is getting a person‚Äôs digestive system in proper working order. This means understanding what type of digestive system we have (is it fast and hot, slow and cold, or balanced). We need to understand what type of constitution we have, what the season is, which foods we should eat and at what time of day, and proper food combinations (meaning we understand which foods can be digested together and which cannot). All of this then leads to proper assimilation and absorption of food. This is wisdom, and there is a whole cause of disease in Ayurveda entitled ‚Äúcrimes against wisdom‚ÄĚ!

So, we need to get rid of any toxicity that might be lurking first. We need to know that the waste disposal system is functioning properly and that toxicity is leaving the body in the form of sweat, urine, and feces. All this can be aided by an Ayurvedic practitioner and is the first step of treatment in Ayurveda. 

Proper Formation of Tissues 

In Ayurveda, there are seven layers of tissues; these are called the Dhatus. They have an order ‚Äď and that is relevant because if an earlier layer / level is not healthy, it is likely the latter layers will be out of whack too. The first layer is rasa (meaning the circulating fluids and lymph). This is the most pervasive of all the dhatus. Then it is rakta (blood),¬†mamsa (muscle), medas (fat), asthi (bone), majja (nervous tissue and bone marrow), and finally¬†shukra (reproductive tissue: sperm and ovum). Shukra is the smallest amount but the most potent and concentrated of all the tissues.

So, in order to have a properly functioning nervous system and reproductive tissues, the circulating fluids need to be healthy. This is why we have Rasayana in Ayurveda. Rasayana is rejuvenative therapy, which heals the rasa dhatu and breathes life and longevity into the whole body.

The proper creation of tissues leads to the formation of the eponymous 8th dhatu: Ojas. Ojas are the drops of nectar housed in the heart that lead to a properly functioning immune system, glistening hair, sparkling eyes, and radiant skin. I know that aging gracefully isn’t all about how you look, but the proper formation of all these tissues and Ojas sure does help!  

A Properly Functioning Mind

Ayurveda tells us that the spirit gives power to the mind, and the mind rules the senses. This means that if we want clarity and strength of mind, we need to cultivate a sturdy spiritual life according to Ayurveda. Ayurveda gives us directions for this via the Eight Limbs of Yoga: aka Astanga Yoga. Astanga Yoga tells us to use discipline, determination, observance of the path as it’s been laid out for us by sages, Pranayama breathing, Asana postures, withdrawal of the senses from material cravings, and meditation. 

A mind that is yoked and steady is a great first step. We can harness the mind by using this ancient wisdom. Then, once it is under some control, we have clarity and can get to know ourselves better. We can discern what is for us and what is not for us rather than being at the mercy of our fleeting sense of lust, addiction, craving, and desire.

Misuse of the Senses 

A mind that runs amok and misused senses lead to overeating, indulging in too much junk food, overusing mobile phone technology, scrolling senselessly through social media apps, partying too hard, losing sleep, and getting satisfaction from addictive behaviors and intoxicants, as well as listening to violent music and scaring yourself repeatedly with horror films. Proper use of the senses can be cultivated by observing the Eight Limbs of Yoga as mentioned before, getting to know yourself and your deeper needs, and then, in turn, living in harmony with the seasons and tuning into nature. In the next section, we will discuss specific ways to live per nature through Ayurveda for old age to increase your lifespan.

Knowing Oneself 

I know what you’re thinking: surely health is feeling well and free from disease? It is, but Ayurveda is always looking for the root cause of disease, and Ayurveda sees the ultimate root cause of disease to be separation from self. Separation from self is when you are unable to discern what is good for you and what is not; to not know how to look after yourself. In its essence, Ayurveda is trying to lead you back to yourself. Ayurveda shows you how to clear the confusion and toxicity from your mind and body so you can eventually be liberated from an entangled mind and a life of suffering.

So the KEY to longevity and optimal health is to know yourself. Know how your system works, what you are able to digest and what you are not, what is good for you and what is not, and how to keep the channels of your senses, body, and mind clear and flowing properly. 

8 Ayurvedic Practices and Remedies for Longevity

Ayurvedic practices and remedies for aging focus on inviting us to tune into the natural workings of nature and ourselves, helping us increase the longevity of our lives. Here are some of the most important Ayurvedic practices and remedies that you can apply to your daily life.

1. Practice Meditation

Meditation is a time-tested practice that slows our stress response rate. Stress = early aging (both internally and externally). But meditation allows our minds and bodies to settle back into a parasympathetic state (rest and reset) rather than remaining in a cortisol-perpetuating, sympathetic fight-or-flight state, which is harmful to longevity. 

Research studies have reported that consistent meditation practices increase our sense awareness, anchor us in the present moment, and allow us to get to know ourselves properly, leading to positive cognitions and increased acceptance of emotional experience. This results in a reduction in stress, which slows the rate of cellular aging.

2. Establish a Daily Routine a.k.a. Dinacharya 

Ayurveda for old age and longevity promotes living in accordance with the cycles of nature for optimal health. By aligning ourselves with the circadian rhythms of the earth, we get in tune with nature, ourselves, and our hormones, and stress responses are kept in check.

Establishing a dinacharya (daily routine) to find peace and harmony is the best way of anchoring ourselves and giving our being stability and reassurance. While there are many different ways you can incorporate a daily routine, here is a common 30-minute Ayurvedic morning dinacharya you may try for optimal health.

  • Wake with the sun
  • Enjoy warm water and a spoonful of Chyawanprash or Ghuta, depending on the season
  • Clean your tongue and promote oral hygiene
  • Eliminate
  • Practice pranayama (10 minutes)
  • Practice meditation (20 minutes)¬†
  • Practice yoga asana (15 minutes)
  • Eat breakfast

3. Consume Herbal Rasayanas and Anti-Aging Herbs

Rasayana is the Ayurvedic branch of knowledge that deals with rejuvenation and longevity. 

  1. Although there are a number of herbal rasayanas that are intended to enhance the body and mind to prevent degenerative changes that lead to disease, Chyawanprash is the most popular and versatile. Chyawanprash is a powerful medicinal herbal supplement designed to facilitate healthy tissue growth in every system of the body. It contains a number of anti-aging herbs, such as ashwagandha and amla berry, and is considered the nectar of longevity. For sustained energy and optimal health, take 1 tsp of PIOR Living Chyawanprash in the morning before breakfast. 
  2. Ghruta ghee is another Ayurvedic rasayana that supports overall wellness, including cognitive health, tissue nourishment, and detoxification. To experience these benefits, use Ghruta ghee in place of butters and oils.
  3. Consider taking an herbal supplement like PIOR Living Longevity, which contains 48 organic and wild-harvested herbs and spices that have been used for centuries to promote a longer, healthier life.

To learn more about herbs for longevity, check out our guide to Anti-Aging Herbs.

4. Build Ojas

To understand Ayurveda for longevity of life, Ojas is key. Ojas are the golden drops of nectar that are the essential energy of the immune system. Ojas is a subtle substance that can only be built after all the other dhatus are nourished. When ojas is strong, there is health, as well as a sparkle in the eyes and luster to the skin and hair. When Ojas is deficient, disease will develop.

Ojas is built by maintaining good digestion and proper eating habits, having good quality sleep, and managing energy output. In addition, there are special rejuvenating foods, herbs, and food products that build ojas, including peeled soaked almonds, dates, ghee, and bamboo salt.

5. Restore Prana

While Ojas is the essence of the immune system, Prana is the breath of life and the difference between someone being alive and dead. When a person’s Prana is strong, they experience energy, health, and vitality. When Prana is low, the person will feel dull, lethargic, lacking in energy, and disconnected. 

Pranayama practices are for increasing levels of healthy, balanced, life-enhancing Prana throughout the body, mind, and spirit. 

A chronic low-prana state will likely lead to illness, thus negatively impacting longevity. Read these 12 steps to increase prana.

6. Move Your Body

Movement is a crucial factor for optimal health. It is vital to move our bodies daily to keep our bones, muscles, and joints healthy and mobile. Daily yoga practice and walking is a great way to build strength and cardiovascular health. Getting regular aerobic and cardio exercise is also beneficial. 

7. Live Aligned with The Seasons

To further increase optimal health, choose foods and activities that align with the seasons. Tapping into nature’s wisdom means listening to her cues and aligning with what nature is doing, including eating the foods that the earth is naturally producing at certain times of the year. Read our guides to the seasons for tips on how to navigate each season with health and ease: 

8. Balance Vata Dosha in the Winter Years

One angle to consider when it comes to anti-aging herbs is the Ayurvedic perspective on the life cycle. Ayurveda teaches that each stage of life is characterized by one of the three doshas. The doshas are constitutional types, and are composed of the five elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth.

Vata dosha, in particular, is made of air and ether. The qualities of Vata dosha are light, cool, dry, mobile, unstable, and subtle. The end of the life cycle is considered to be the Vata time of life. So, the later years (approximately menopause and beyond for women) is the time of life in which Vata dosha dominates.

By reducing and balancing Vata, you can also buffer the aging process. This is because Vata dosha naturally increases with age. Learn how to balance Vata for optimal health.

Tying it All Together

Living according to Ayurveda for longevity is the practice of realigning ourselves with our Higher Self and the Divinity above us. We are no longer at the mercy of our cravings, addictions, lusts, and desires, which are fleeting in their pleasure and destructive to our bodies, minds, and spirits. Ayurveda wants us to Know Ourself, understanding what creates harmony in our being and what does not. By retraining ourselves according to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, slaying negative loophole habits, and following personalized remedies, you can find your way back to optimal health to live a long, satisfying, liberated life.

Selina Van Orden is an Ayurvedic Physician living and working in the UK, specialising in the mind, female health, auto-immune disorders, and digestive health. atyourbest.one
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