"We are constantly dancing to the ebb and flow of everything and everyone around us, and this is the magic and uniqueness of Ayurveda. Ayurveda offers an incredible myriad of deep cleansing practices and herbal preparations to reverse health issues, but it also gives us a wealth of wisdom for preventative wellness that puts us in the driving seat of our own wellness."
Author of Ayurveda: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Wellbeing (2018), Geeta Vara is a UK-based Ayurvedic practitioner and founder of Geeta Vara Ayurveda. She encourages awareness of Ayurveda through her workshops and international retreats.
Since the set up her practice in 2008, Geeta has been working globally with clients to help them manage and heal from a variety of health issues. With the vision to make Ayurvedic wisdom accessible and understandable to all, Geeta focuses on gut health and stress management as the key sources of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
"I fell in love with the truly "whole-istic" approach and beautiful marriage of science and spirituality that addresses the root cause."
What does Ayurveda mean to you?
For me, Ayurveda is a way of life that encourages us to live aligned with nature. It’s almost as if the sages 5,000 years ago knew that the human race would become imbalanced from themselves and nature and gave us guidelines on how to live to stay healthy and happy – ingenious!
We are constantly dancing to the ebb and flow of everything and everyone around us, and this is the magic and uniqueness of Ayurveda. Ayurveda offers an incredible myriad of deep cleansing practices and herbal preparations to reverse health issues, but it also gives us a wealth of wisdom for preventative wellness that puts us in the driving seat of our own wellness.
When did you discover it? How long have you been practising it?
I grew up in an extended family environment and with my grandparents in my younger years and I adopted many of the daily cleansing and health rituals such as tongue scraping, eating dinner early, having a hot milk before bed and using spices for home remedies and eating kitchari when we were sick as children. It was just the way life was. However, I truly discovered and consolidated my journey into "Ayurveda" about 16 years ago, when I took the leap of faith from the corporate world to travel and study Ayurveda for nearly five years, and I haven’t looked back since. It is central to my personal life, and I’ve been practising in London since 2008 to help clients overcome numerous health issues including IBS, hyperacidity, colitis, allergies, skin conditions, insomnia, migraines, menstrual issues, to name a few.
What drew you to Ayurveda?
As cliché as it sounds, it really felt like "my calling." I’m not exactly sure at what point I realised that Ayurveda would become my life purpose but I just knew this was my path. I fell in love with the truly "whole-istic" approach and beautiful marriage of science and spirituality that addresses the root cause.
Has it helped you with anything major?
Thankfully, I have not suffered any major health issues, but it was my only resolve when I was going through a very stressful period of my life and I was at an all-time low, physically, mentally and emotionally. Ayurveda really helped me to stay grounded and balanced by being more in tune with myself and applying small changes to my routine and diet, breathing and meditation practices, supported by herbs and treatments.
Is Ayurveda part of your everyday life or just for your medicine cabinet or fall-back routine?
I am deeply immersed in Ayurveda on a daily basis and it is always my primary choice for health care. It’s my passion, it’s my work, it’s my life.
What are your top 3 Ayurvedic tips that have worked for you?
In my book I focus a lot on gut health as our key control centre for health and changing certain eating habits has been personally transformational:
Eating only when I’m hungry and preferring warm cooked foods
Not drinking too much water with my meals
Making lunch the main meal of my day
What surprised you most about Ayurveda?
It all becomes clearer when we become quieter. I was surprised at how intuitive it really is when we are taking a preventative approach. Ayurveda gives guidelines that really seem so obvious but we have become far removed from our truth. Simple rituals like sleeping aligned to our circadian rhythms (between 10pm and 6am) and followed a personalised diet and lifestyle plan, according to our Prakriti (Doshic makeup) can really keep us balanced.
Did you integrate it gradually or overnight for any particular reason?
There is no quick fix and my day-to-day routines have been refined over the last 10 years along with my awareness, spiritual growth and expansion in Ayurveda. Taking time to make changes means they become new habits and eventually a way of life. This is why I really enjoy hosting retreats where people can focus on themselves and learn practical tools to implement every day at home.
Do your children/family eat an Ayurvedic diet? And if they do, do they know it’s Ayurveda or do they just think of it as home cooking?
Hmm, I come from an Indian family who are accustomed to big bold flavours. Unfortunately, not all Indian practices and foods are Ayurvedic, but over the last 10-15 years, with awareness, we have made great positive shifts.
What is your favourite Ayurvedic recipe or go-to ingredient?
My all-time favourite dish is kitchari and not just because it’s the typical go-to dish in Ayurveda for cleansing but it is super versatile, you can vary the grains and I love to make it into a complete meal by adding lots of seasonal vegetables and spices. When it comes to spices my absolute favourite is cumin. It is fragrant and an excellent spice for maintaining good digestion –the focal point in Ayurvedic healthcare.
How does Ayurveda fit into your day-to-day routines?
I am by no means perfect but like everyone I am constantly evolving. On a daily basis, I manage to maintain my morning rituals that include: having gratitude, daily elimination, tongue scraping, neti pot cleansing, oil pulling, body massage, drinking cleansing teas, yoga stretching, breathing and meditation practices. During the day I pay attention to my hunger and eat accordingly, take breaks away from the laptop and remind myself to stay hydrated. I prefer early dinners and early nights (around 10pm). We all need time out to recalibrate from time to time so for me a seasonal cleanse or an Ayurvedic spa retreat in India is an annual event.
Do people around you/in your circle of friends know about Ayurveda?
Oh yes, sometimes even if they don’t want to – I always like to share the wisdom without forcing on people. My inner circles are supper supportive. You know you’re in my circle when I’ve convinced you that you need to scrape your tongue and drink warm water!
What’s the one thing you would encourage everyone to try or you think would benefit the majority of people’s health for the better?
Eat only when you feel hungry. No hunger, no food. Equally, do not skip a meal if you are feeling hunger. Listen to your gut – it can save you from toxins and subsequently many health conditions. There is a multitude of daily cleansing practices, eating guidelines and personalised healthcare habits based on your Dosha type – it’s all covered in my book Ayurveda – ancient wisdom for modern wellbeing.