Gill South: A matter of balance

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Gill South turns to the ancient ayurvedic science of life to address her body thermostat problems and comes away with plenty of lifestyle changes to make.

Turning to a holistic ayurvedic method of treating an out-of-sync body thermostat means looking at balancing the mind, body and soul. Photo / Thinkstock
Turning to a holistic ayurvedic method of treating an out-of-sync body thermostat means looking at balancing the mind, body and soul. Photo / Thinkstock

There are baby photos of me wrapped in a blanket on a hot summer's day with my face scrunched up in an expression of extreme disgust. "What possessed you people to put me out here in the direct sun?" I seem to be saying. And sitting, shivering in intermittent showers at the New Zealand vs South Africa ODI cricket game last weekend, despite several layers of clothing, I was chilled to the bone. Meanwhile there were people strolling past in T-shirts and jandals.

I have come to see ayurveda doctor, Priya Punjabi, to see if she can do something about my rubbish body thermostat. From the superficial research I have done, it is linked with my low blood pressure and poor circulation.

Ayurveda, for your information, is the ancient Vedic science of life which brings balance in mind, body and soul through holistic methods, herbs, diet and lifestyle changes. The healing science has more than 6000 years' spiritual history and maintains that your body is made up of five basic elements. Whenever there is any disorder, these elements become imbalanced and they affect bodily channels and tissues, creating various illnesses in the system.

Priya says she doesn't diagnose or treat diseases but she can classify it into Dosha. The ayurvedic Dosha concept says your balance is governed by three principles: Kapha (earth and fire), Pitta (fire and water), and Vata (ether and air), which orchestrate a person's mental and physiological functions, including metabolism and mind/body type dosha. Diet and lifestyle affect dosha, says Priya. My low blood pressure and poor circulation are a Vata disorder, she tells me.

My diet, she says, is pretty good but the Vata imbalance leading to low immunity, is coming from my lifestyle and constitution. Priya recommends self-massage with cold-pressed sesame oil all over the body which will balance my Vata straight away. She recommends around 20 minutes of meditation and 10 minutes of breathing exercises daily. She also suggests twice-weekly yoga. I need grounding, apparently.

Priya analyses my constitution, checking my tongue. Not too bad she says though there are signs of toxins. She thinks she notices a slight tremor as I stick out my tongue. Do I have a deep-seated fear she asks? I wrack my brain. Um, no.

On the diet front she recommends chewing fennel seeds and my cooking should have some olive oil or ghee (clarified butter), black pepper, ginger, garlic and cinnamon but not much chilli. The three ayurvedic tastes that help balance Vata are sweet, sour and salty so I should include milk, citrus fruits, dried fruit or salted toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds in my diet. Try soaking almonds in milk overnight, suggests Priya.

The ayurvedic doctor also gives me various recommendations for starting my day.

When I get up, I should brush my teeth, then scrape my tongue with a copper tongue scraper. Sounds like an instrument of torture, doesn't it? A glass of warm water should be the first thing I drink with a teaspoon of honey, lemon juice and grated ginger. Twenty or 30 minutes later I can have my green tea and breakfast. I should drink around two litres of warm water/green tea a day and no black tea or black coffee.

Rather than chocolate, Priya suggests licorice for my circulation. I immediately rush out and buy a bag. It's much softer than it used to be. Yum. Not sure what my dentist is going to say about this.

Next week:

I'm going on an AA defensive driving course, for the sake of my health and the health of others. I'm going to try to learn to curb my impatient driving style.

- NZ Herald

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