Food is such a significant part of our lives, especially as city dwellers in Singapore where gastronomy is the national past time - and for a myriad of reasons. We are spoilt for choice with our vibrant cultures in a busy, bustling melting pot. That, and, food broadens our sensory world with salty, acidic, sweet, spicy flavours.
(Picture by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash)
But there's more to our relationship with food than meets the... palate. Why do we turn to our favourite dishes and snacks, affectionally call them 'comfort food', when we're not feeling our best? Why does the older generation implore us with their age-old wisdom to steer away from 'heaty' foods under some circumstances and to avoid 'cooling' foods in others?
To offer some insight and as part of a bimonthly wellbeing series in collaboration with Heealy, the Co. got to host Dr. Dharna Tiku, an ayurvedic physician and yoga trainer from ArujAyur and Ms. Srividya Rajaraman, a yoga therapist from Samatva Yoga. In the two-part workshop, the invited speakers spoke of the fundamentals of ayurveda and yoga and the part they play towards our holistic wellbeing, and presented targeted yoga postures and ayurvedic foods to participants.
What is Ayurveda?
The term ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). What makes it the science of life? Ayurveda is all about championing life by preserving holistic health. It aims to keep the mind, body, and spirit in balance and preventing disease rather than treating it. Dr. Dharna shared that ayurveda achieves this by focussing holistically on the following three pillars: diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
According to Dr. Dharna, ayurveda identifies three basic bio-energies that are present in everyone and everything, including food:
Vata - described as cold, light, dry, rough, flowing, and spacious;
Pitta - described as hot, light, sharp, oily, liquid, and mobile;
Kapha - described as steady, stable, heavy, slow, cold, and soft.
Every person is said to have a unique ratio of each energy, usually with one being more prevalent than the other two. For example, a person may be mostly pitta while another may be mostly vata. A professional practitioner of ayurveda can help determine the ratio of energy of a person, which is responsible for a person’s physiological, mental, and emotional health.
Yoga Poses For Your Body Type
Ms. Srividya, with her expertise in yoga, demonstrated various types of yoga postures to boost immunity based on the different bio-energy makeups.
For predominantly vata types, Ms. Srividya shared the benefits of encouraging the building of strength through standing postures. She also highlighted that heat can be generated to counteract coldness and dryness experienced by vata types through twists to release synovial fluid between our joints. Coupled with slower transitions, longer holds and longer exhales, these postures serve to ground the body and the mind.
Sampling Ayurvedic Foods
In the second part of the session, Dr. Dharna introduced various ayurvedic foods to participants. Ayurvedic herbs and spices are an important component towards improving holistic health. They are believed to protect our body from disease and offer a variety of health benefits, including improved digestion and mental health.
Dr. Dharna had thoughtfully prepared a spread of ayurvedic concoctions including various herbs and spices. She explained the various benefits of each of these towards specific bodily functions.
For example, turmeric, the spice that gives curry its radiant yellow colour, is a wonderfully charged ayurvedic ingredient that may help reduce inflammation and improve heart and brain health.
Another powerful ayurvedic ingredient is cumin. Cumin has been said to boost the activity of digestive enzymes and facilitate the release of bile from the liver towards improving digestion.
(Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash)
Ayurvedic practitioners like Dr. Dharna herself are adept at creating a mix of ayurvedic ingredients towards targeting specific ailments, and participants got to savour a variety of these ayurvedic foods and get a taste of how holistic health can be achieved.
By the End of the Workshop
We got to build strength and release tension in the body with the grounding yoga postures practised with Ms. Srividya, and were rejuvenated from within with Dr. Dharna's thoughtful concoctions of ayurvedic herbs and spices. The marriage of yoga and ayurveda in this month's Co. x Heealy wellbeing session is a reminder of the importance of holistic health. While calling to mind the Co.'s other wellbeing programmes, there are truly a multitude of ways to understand and care for the body.
At the Co., we see the importance of holistic health and strive to make mental and emotional wellbeing more accessible for our Co.mmunity and in our Duxton neighbourhood.
Interested in participating in our wellbeing programmes?
Check out our curated programming at www.jointhe.co/programmes.