"Ayurveda’s genius is in its simple teaching to live mindfully and follow the principles that are life-enhancing and oppose those which are not. You know the basics: follow the rhythms of life, eat foods that help your digestion, do exercise that brings you energy, spend time in nature, celebrate with friends, avoid negativity, keep off the chip butties. Ayurveda is really the expert in helping you find a rejuvenating rhythm in your life. Like a flowing river, it loves a steady routine."
Sebastian Pole is co-founder and Master Herbsmith of Pukka Herbs, producer of organic herbal teas and wellbeing supplements. Pukka started life in the year 2001 when Sebastian answered an advert in a local magazine, placed by his future business partner, Tim Westwell. The advert called for a like-minded, green business partner who wanted to promote natural wellbeing and grow a sustainable business. Sebastian is passionate about sharing the benefits of herbs, the sustainable supply of organic herbs as well as working with communities to protect both their livelihoods and local ecosystems.
As well as formulating all Pukka Herbs’ organic products, Sebastian also runs his own herbal practice. Sebastian has been in clinical practice since 1998. He is a registered member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association, Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and the Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners. Fluent in Hindi, a registered yoga therapist and passionate about running a business that brings benefit to everyone it connects with, Sebastian is on a mission to bring the incredible power of plants into people’s life.
"Ayurveda offers us a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realising their full potential."
After getting my degree in Hindi and Religious studies, I spent my early twenties wandering around India, learning yoga, becoming a vegetarian, sleeping under the stars and walking for weeks in the Himalayas. I was searching hard to find what my life was all about. These were wild and formative times. After a couple of U-turns, I realised that I wanted to spend my life working with people and plants. The dream of becoming an Ayurvedic practitioner and herbalist became a huge inspiration in my life.
I went back to college to study Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western herbal medicine. I fell head-over-heels in love with the poetry of traditional medicine and was blessed to have some great teachers who nurtured this kernel of passion. Traditional medicine is so person-centred with such deep insights into the workings of nature that I was completely inspired. And the plants just lit me up.
Ayurveda offers us a body of wisdom designed to help people (and the whole planet, actually) stay vibrant and healthy while realising their full potential. The simplest way to work with Ayurveda is to learn that it is simple. There is a system it uses to describe our experience of life that with practice we are able to fine-tune our health with. Just like yoga or meditation, this ancient health system is not a quick fix (though once you know what you are doing, it can be) or fad diet plan, it’s a way of living wisely.
Ayurveda’s genius is in its simple teaching to live mindfully and follow the principles that are life-enhancing and oppose those which are not. You know the basics: follow the rhythms of life, eat foods that help your digestion, do exercise that brings you energy, spend time in nature, celebrate with friends, avoid negativity, keep off the chip butties. Ayurveda is really the expert in helping you find a rejuvenating rhythm in your life. Like a flowing river, it loves a steady routine.
Ayurveda is brilliant on digestion. Unlike much of the tribal food warfare we seem to inflict on each other, it's not moralistic about foods; it’s all about who is having how much of what and when – if it suits you, we’re all good. If not, you have the choice to change or not. You can keep digestion strong by eating the right amount of foods that suit you at the right time. It also offers great insights into cleansing and keeping all your inner organs and tissues working at their best. Ayurveda teaches us to tap into what we love so that we are deeply nourished. One way it does this is to encourage us to use special plants throughout the day to help enhance digestion, clarity, concentration, energy or relaxation.
One of my favourite Ayurvedic herbs is tulsi, also known as holy basil (as it’s a sister of our basil we use in pesto – and very precious). From Ayurveda’s "energetic" world-view, tulsi increases Prana (our vital life force) by encouraging a more calming, deeper breathing, and increases our body’s resistance to physical, emotional and environmental stress. It’s said to clear negativity and prepare you for life ahead. Pukka’s Three Tulsi tea is a blend of three varieties of this revered plant: aromatic Krishna purple, Rama green and fragrant lemon-scented Vana.
I’ve been connected with Ayurveda for so long now that it’s infused with my everyday, from the daily bath, to regular massage, to morning meditation, to all our specific diets at home. From building regular cleanses, nourishment and rejuvenation into my life, to spending time studying nature – especially the herbs (I can’t help it!).
Diet-wise and depending on the weather and how I am feeling I’ll start my day by taking some herbs — usually some turmeric and something green — with some ginger tea, eat toast with honey, blueberries and almond butter for breakfast, then drink green tea in the morning, have some home-cooked soup or leftover dinner for lunch, drink our Mint Refresh tea after that. I’ll be taking some of Pukka's Wholistic Ashwagandha in the day too – it’s my favourite helper on the path to a stable and peaceful day. I love cooking, so I’ll often rustle up some spiced kitchari with some greens, pickle and ghee for dinner. And I’m always available for some crystallised ginger or a bit of chocolate followed by a cup of Love or Night Time to soothe the end of the day.
For those interested in trying to include a bit of Ayurveda, I would suggest looking into your constitution — it’s an empowering way to learn more about yourself. It gives you an insight into who you are, how you can live, what you should eat and how to get the most out of life. It brings you knowledge of yourself and what is best for you. Although we are all beautifully unique, Ayurveda divides us into three main constitutions: Vata, Pitta and Kapha (otherwise known as the Doshas). The Doshas are qualities that influence all of the body’s functions, from biological processes to thoughts and feelings. To find out your Dosha, you can try Pukka Herbs’ online Dosha quiz [or take Jasmine's quiz here]. Once you’ve learnt about your constitution – think of it as your unique "blueprint" — and start to follow the appropriate guidelines with your diet, habits and lifestyle, you can really know how Ayurveda’s theories apply to you in your life. As you get more connected you will be able to better follow your intuition with regards to what suits you when you eat, drink, sleep, love.
And this is what Ayurveda is all about: following your inner nature, in balance with your outer world, so that your spirit can blossom. Enjoy your Ayurvedic journey. If you want to read a bit more about what Ayurveda, have a look at my book here.