Feel Better: Ayurvedic Digestion Rituals For Health and HappinessBy amelia richards
Digestion is at the core of everything and digestion issues can create and cause more issues than many of us realise. For many years, Indian chef and wellness wonder-woman, Mira Manek, struggled with poor digestion and what she thought was simply a weak digestive system, but has since come to realise that diet and what – and when – you eat is everything. According to Ayurveda, we all have something called the ‘agni’ or digestive fire, and keeping the agni ignited and strong is one of the key principles of Ayurveda. So here are a few tips and tricks that Mira tries her best to abide by when it comes to being her healthiest, happiest and best self:
Cook Your Food
Eating cooked foods rather than raw foods as much as possible, but especially later in the day. This rule will of course vary from season to season and depend upon the climate in which you live. However, as a general principle, cooked foods are much easier to digest.
Fasting for 12-14 hours (ideally 13 or 14 if possible) overnight, which means having an early dinner and not eating after dinner, then having breakfast 1-2 hours after waking up. Many people do this by default anyway, but knowing this principle prevents me from snacking after meals.
Take Breaks Between Meals
Fasting between meals is also very important, again to ignite that digestive fire and prepare us for the next meal. This doesn’t mean I don’t snack at all – my weakness is snacking! But when I don’t snack and when I’m actually hungry for the next meal, I feel a huge difference in the way I feel and in my digestion.
This is something I’ve written about in both my books Saffron Soul and Prajna. Boil cumin seeds in water (1/2 tsp seeds in 1-2 litres of water) or you can boil a mixture of cumin, dill, carom and fennel seeds – any combination you like. Let this cool down, fill it in a bottle or jug and drink this all day – instead of and as well as normal drinking water. This helps digestion and any other issues like bloating and flatulence.
Stretches and specifically spinal twists (all explained and illustrated in my second book Prajna) really help massage the colon and digestive system as well as other organs so I try to do these on an empty stomach and hold them for a few minutes. I usually love to do these in the evening as a way to relax, while I listen to my evening playlist from Prajna (which is now available on Amazon Alexa!), but you can do these anytime of day.
Cooking With Spices
I add spices to each and every meal I have, whether it’s a daal or curry, or simply sweet potato, vegetables and tofu. Adding cumin seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric powder, asafoetida – all these spices have a plethora of health benefits and aid digestion. Some are more potent and more effective than others and they all have different purposes. To get a stronger flavour, I use a spice mix like garam masala, something worth keeping – tastes delicious with roasted sweet potato.
This could mean brisk walking, running, yoga, a hit workout – a daily something to get the blood and oxygen moving, to keep you energised, to get that daily flow of serotonin and dopamine, the happy hormones, which get released when you exercise. This is a happiness ritual, but it plays a part in every element of life, including digestion. And getting some fresh air, getting out in nature, feeling the sunshine, just puts a smile on my face!
Mira Manek is a wellness consultant and the author of Prajna – Ayurvedic Rituals for Happiness. Her first book was Saffron Soul, a cookbook focusing on healthy Indian vegetarian and vegan recipes, published in 2017. Mira also has her own café Chai by Mira in Kingly Court, inside Triyoga Soho. www.miramanek.com @miramanek