“In the West we are so fixed on the masculine way of thinking, we want time frames, fixed goals, check lists and finish lines, but Ayurveda gives you the permission to surrender to all of that when it comes to health and healing. It invites you to adopt a more gentle feminine approach, to step into ease and grace, to take the pressure off your body.”
Carina is the founder of the wellness lifestyle brand CiCis Ayurveda, a digital platform focused on blending modern living with Ayurveda. Through this space she provides educational content, tools and services to guide the collective to take the power of their health and wellbeing back into their own hands naturally, with Ayurveda. Carina first became devoted to the holistic health system after its simple but powerful logical and metaphysical tools helped her to begin to heal many years of chronic mental and physical illness. After years of exhausting various avenues with no hope, Ayurveda was the light she had been searching for all along. The results from her own health transformation were so inspiring, and led her to become certified in Ayurvedic Diet & Lifestyle, Life Coaching and Mindful Mental Health. Carina is now deeply passionate about sharing its empowering knowledge, intuitive wisdom and fulfilling way of life in a way that is adaptable for modern conscious living.
“[AYURVEDA] It is a path of empowerment that teaches you how to be your own healer.”
What does Ayurveda mean to you?
Ayurveda means gracefully harnessing our innate nature to dance with the ebb and flows of nature itself. To me it is about the daily compassion and nurturing of our sacred vessels, so we may navigate a fulfilling way of life that is supportive of internal peace, health and harmony. Beyond the logic and complexity of the medical system is a science of interconnection and unconditional love for your Self, humanity and planet Earth. How to think, eat, act, speak, move, rise and sleep with conscious awareness in alignment with the rhythm of nature, so the wellness you reap may overflow from your cup and into the lives of others. It is a path of empowerment that teaches you how to be your own healer, there is no greater gift than to be able to live in the home of a body that is balanced, nourished and well. Ayurveda gives you this gift.
When did you discover it? How long have you been practising it?
I first discovered it when I had just turned 20 and was in the depths of my health journey, and exhaustingly navigating the wellness industry searching for ways to heal. I was back and forth between Western medical experts, hospitals and waiting rooms, desperate to find answers about my health and the root cause of my chronic issues, but no one had any. I remember when I first came across the rather intriguing word “Ayurveda,” my spirit instantly lit up in a way that I had never experienced before, and I had a deep sense of knowing that everything was about to change. I felt in the dark and lost about my health until I discovered Ayurveda. For the first time ever it felt like someone had come and switched the lights on. Every question I had, Ayurveda answered it. Every mental and physical imbalance I was dealing with made sense for the first time, and I finally had tried-and-tested knowledge on how to begin healing as a whole, not just as a symptom. Although my health journey pushed me to my ultimate limits, it led me to the discovery of my life passion and purpose of Ayurveda and that I will be forever grateful for.
What drew you to Ayurveda?
It’s complete 360 approach to health and wellness, with the vast understanding that every thing is interconnected, everything from your behaviour to your digestion, emotions and dreams. The Ayurvedic approach to the mind- body connection was the point of liberation for me, with its logical awareness that each part of the body holds its own unique intelligence, and a high majority of physical imbalances are a manifestation of imbalance first within the mind. It’s the understanding that undigested emotions are more toxic than undigested foods, and cause the accumulation of Ama (toxins) in the mind-body, being the root cause of many modern illnesses we see today. What drew me to it was also that for the first time in my life I was seen as a whole person with unique emotional, mental and physical needs, not just a symptom and number on a prescription slip. Seeing a Vaidya was the first time the word “root cause” was ever mentioned, and everything that I had been so desperately searching for had been answered.
Has it helped you with anything major?
I’ve always been very sensitive by nature, and my soul chose to test this nature with a challenging life path for me for the beginning of my life’s journey, one which would lead me down many years of suffering and confusion, but through to empowerment, liberation and to the discovery of Ayurveda. From then I would heal and share its healing with others. It has definitely helped me and that’s why I feel so passionate about the science. I first began suffering with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic fatigue, insomnia and panic disorder from the age of 12, during a time when mental health was still completely taboo. The mental health issues I suffered with so deeply would then manifest later in life as physical illness. By age 20 my body had been desperately trying to send me signals for a long time that it was reaching its limit with my mental health, first as chronic digestive issues, a completely burnt out digestion and a food intolerance list so long that I was barely eating at all, and when I did eat I would pass out for up to 6 hours and not recall what happened. This was followed by cystic acne all over my face, chest and back — my body was physically trying to make me see what was going on inside. Eventually, enough was enough, and one day I ended up collapsing, and from that day spent months bed-ridden with burnout, adrenal fatigue, hypoglycaemia and anemia on top of the all the mental health issues, skin and chronic digestive disorders I lived with daily. It’s safe to say my mind and body were an extremely confusing place to be. What I know now is that all the physical imbalances where manifestations from undigested emotions, trauma and pain which had been stored in my cells and creating ailments in my body. It was working with a Vaidya and following those practices that led me onto a path of healing, rebuilding and rejuvenation. It can’t be denied that it takes true courage, patience and faith in the healing process, but to watch your Self unfold and transform in ways you never thought were possible is unbelievably empowering. Thanks to Ayurveda I see the world through new eyes and for that my love for it will always continue to grow.
Is Ayurveda part of your everyday life or just for your medicine cabinet or fall-back routine?
Ayurveda is part of my everyday life and I absolutely love it that way. I really couldn’t imagine it any other way! It is the foundation of sustaining my health and wellbeing, which I am very conscious about after experiencing way too many years of my life without stable health. Ayurveda is my trustworthy guiding hand on how to always restore balance between my mind, body and spirit. I see Ayurveda like a wise elder who holds all the ancient knowledge and wisdom humanity needs to stay balanced and well. It is so empowering to have the tools and knowledge to keep you centred in day-to-day life, and that no matter what environment, circumstance or challenge you may be faced with, when you work with the Gunas and Qualities you can always find the solution to what your mind and body intuitively need. But most importantly it gives me great joy to embody its practices every day. How can you not love something which tells you to love, nourish and care for yourself daily in the most simple yet sacred ways?
What are your top 3 Ayurvedic tips that have worked for you?
Wow, this is a tough question! So many of the practices have been a saving grace for my health and healing journey. Although there are the classic Ayurvedic rituals such as tongue scraping which are daily non-negotiables, these three have personally been the most powerful for my healing journey.
1. Daily Journalling
This is not the most common Ayurvedic ritual that’s talked about, but it was the first prescription from my Vaidya before we even started to discuss herbs and lifestyle, and little did I know it would change my life forever. Journalling is extremely grounding for the Vata Dosha, it soothes the nerves, calms an overactive mind and connects you to the heart chakara, which is governed by Vata. This aids healing emotional imbalances, allows you to release stagnant energy stored in the subtle bodies, which causes the accumulation of toxins that then manifest as physical ailments in the body. It is also a powerful tool for stress management, expressing your gratitude, self-reflection and personal development. The Vedic texts suggest 15 minutes daily for good longevity of health, healthy function of sensory organs and a sharp functioning mind.
2. Abhyanga Hasta & Pada
One of my favourite rituals for grounding Vata and restoring balance of the nervous system, which always needs extra loving care with the modern world we live in. Part of my evening routine is to massage the feet and hands with warm sesame oil, particularly focusing on the soles and palms. I like to add balancing essential oils such as lavender, nutmeg and sandalwood to promote a deep and restful sleep. Before practising any Abhyanga ritual I will always share an intention of gratitude with my body while placing my left hand on my heart space, thanking it for working so hard for me that day and all that it does for me. It is a beautiful way to connect with your spirit and nurture the relationship with your Self. Everything that the mind thinks and says, every single cell in the body hears and responds too, so be mindful of your thoughts and the way you treat yourself. You are a sacred gift and deserve to be honoured that way.
3. Starting The Day With Hot Water
Understanding the importance of keeping a healthy digestive fire with the right tools has been hugely beneficial for my overall health. Starting my morning routine with fresh hot lemon, ginger and turmeric to stimulate the Agni in preparation for the day ahead is so simple but effective for aiding detoxification, cleansing the liver, stimulating the digestive system and bringing mental alertness to the mind. It is always the little things in Ayurveda that have the biggest impact and that’s why I love it!
What surprised you most about Ayurveda?
How simple, logical and powerful it is, and how easy it is to integrate into one’s lifestyle. The power of Ayurveda knows no limits in its ability to restore balance between the mind, body and spirit. Also how humbling it is: living an Ayurvedic lifestyle awakens the innate wisdom and power of self-healing that we all have within, it acts as a gentle reminder to come back to your nature, and connect to the world outside of you which is a reflection of the world inside of you. What also surprised me is its cosmic wisdom on humanity and how it raises your awareness of how far we have drifted from our own nature as a society, and how we have lost connection with each other and the Earth we inhabit. In Ayurveda we say, “As is the microcosm so is the macrocosm, as is within so is without.” With the current crises we face as a collective, the harm we are causing our planet and each other is a mirror reflection of the harm we are causing to our own selves. The global warming crisis is a reflection of the global health crisis; everything is interconnected. To harm another is to only keep harming yourself, and I truly believe that to heal the world we live in begins with healing one’s connection to Self, and Ayurveda is the exact guide humanity needs to do just that.
Did you integrate it gradually or overnight for any particular reason?
I definitely integrated it gradually over time, implementing the different healing modalities it has to offer into my lifestyle as I adapted to the changing needs of my mind and body. It is such a vast science with so much depth and ancient wisdom, one that I think deserves respect, patience and humility. Rebuilding your lifestyle or reversing imbalance does not happen over night, but is an infinite journey of learning, unfolding and blossoming. Every day your body is changing, and each morning you rise is a whole new path of discovery to explore and that is the beauty of it. In the West we are so fixed on the masculine way of thinking, we want time frames, fixed goals, check lists and finish lines, but Ayurveda gives you the permission to surrender to all of that when it comes to health and healing. It invites you to adopt a more gentle feminine approach, to step into ease and grace, to take the pressure off your body.
Do your family eat an Ayurvedic diet? Do they know it’s Ayurveda or do they just think of it as home cooking?
It is just known as home cooking now unless I am following a traditional Ayurvedic recipe. It really is a beautiful cooking science that you can adapt according to everyone’s Doshas, tastes and season. I like to follow the Ayurvedic principles but apply it to a more modern approach to cooking. There is a huge misconception that Ayurvedic food is only Indian food, but that is just not the case. Once you understand the basic principles you can apply it to any type of cuisine that will excite all family and friends. The society we live in is completely different to ancient India 5,000 years ago, and for Ayurveda to provide its healing wisdom through food for the many that need it, naturally like anything in society, it must be relatable and adaptable for the world we live in. Learning to work with the qualities, spices and seasonal ingredients is an art form within itself. Get your loved ones, grab Jasmine’s East By West book and get creative in the kitchen!
How does Ayurveda fit into your day-to-day routines?
Ayurveda has really just become second nature, and the way I approach my lifestyle for looking after my wellbeing and ensuring my spirit is nurtured in the way it needs; a balanced life is the result of a balanced spirit. Having an established Dinacharya is the best way to have Ayurveda as a foundation in your day-to-day. My Ayurvedic morning routine ensures my body is nourished and energised for the day ahead, while my evening routine allows me to unwind for sleep. Key ways are preparing homemade warm cooked meals with healing herbs and spices which can be put into a thermos if you are on the go, staying hydrated with warm water throughout the day (I use a 1-litre glass water bottle which can be filled up anywhere when you’re out and about). I prioritise daily mental health care with either meditation, journalling, reaching out for emotional support from a loved one, or creating space to fully feel and express any emotions that need processing, and a daily non-negotiable is spending time in nature without any digital distraction. If you’re in a city this could be as simple as a walk in the park at lunch time or in the evening. I always take my shoes off and ground to earth if it’s not too cold! If you are really stretched for time you can even pop into a florist to get your nature fix that way — there really is no excuse! Regaining our connection back to nature is so vital for overall health and vitality, and especially important if you live in an urban environment.
What do you wish was easier in our society to make an Ayurvedic lifestyle more accessible?
For Ayurveda to be recognised as a formal medical system in the West, and co-work with GPs and hospitals to stop patients ending up in there in the first place with its prevention-focused approach to health and lifestyle. People don’t know what they don’t get taught, and this is why education, collaboration and sharing the message is vital. As a society we are slowly moving toward a higher level of consciousness about what the terms “wellness” and “holistic health” actually mean, we are beginning to understand that we are not just physical bodies, but have emotional, mental and spiritual layers that need just as much care. What Ayurveda has been saying for over 5,000 years we are just waking up to here, everything from mind-body connection, to gut health and stress management. In the West many are skeptical of anything that includes the words mind or spirit — as a society we have been deeply conditioned with the “if you can’t see it it doesn’t exist” mentality, but it is this archaic way of thinking that has seen a global health epidemic in mental and physical dis-ease like never before. There are an extreme number of adults, teenagers, children and elderly across the globe suffering with chronic illnesses and mental health issues directly resulting from stress and emotional imbalance alone, being told that they must spend the rest of their lives dependent on pharmaceuticals with no other way out, when the answers truly lie within your diet, lifestyle, human connection and nature. Everything the body needs to heal is already provided for us. It is this global health crisis that is influencing the rise of people seeking out natural health alternatives to healing, no one wants to be told this is it for your life when you don’t even feel like you’re living. They want hope, happiness and health. My heart wishes for Ayurveda to enter the mainstream so it can reach the lives of those who need it more than ever.
Do people around you/in your circle of friends know about Ayurveda?
Everyone close to me definitely now knows about Ayurveda since it came into my life, but before that no one had ever heard of it. Close family and friends who have been by my side on my journey and saw how much I was suffering before Ayurveda came into my life have watched my transformation first-hand and the peace, joy and harmony it brings. That alone has inspired them to adopt the holistic practices in ways that suit their lifestyles. My best friend was inspired to choose the Ayurvedic route for managing her Crohn’s disease, which is now 98% healed thanks to Ayurveda. In Ayurveda we also know and respect that the student will always find the teacher when they’re ready, and not to preach about it. Every person is an individual of free will navigating their own unique path in life — choosing to live an Ayurvedic way of life may be a part of that or may not.
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?
Eating your biggest meal at lunch time and having your evening meal no later than 6pm! This allows your circadian rhythm and digestive system to align to its natural cycles, so it can perform at optimum function to give you the strength, vitality and energy you need to go about your daily life. Having a light and early dinner gives your body the sufficient time it needs to fully digest your meal before a night of sleep, assimilate nutrients, detoxify, and eliminate waste without the accumulation of toxins in the mind-body. With the confusion of the wellness industry and society we live in, most are eating their meals in the opposite order, having small lunches when their Agni is burning at its strongest, followed by heavy dinners late at night to compensate. This creates a viscous cycle of waking up feeling sluggish, not feeling natural hunger in time for breakfast and continuing the cycle again. Just changing your meal times and portion sizes can have the biggest impact on your health, energy levels and mood stability. When adjusting to earlier dinners, you may want to opt for Jasmine’s Golden Milk recipe to pacify any evening cravings you may get! It’s light, easy to digest and will promote a deep and restful sleep.
Anything else to add?
Thank you so much to Jasmine for making Ayurveda fun, accessible and easy to understand. She is a torch-bearer for shining the light on Ayurveda during a time when it is needed more than ever. The gratitude for your work is felt deeply by so many! Thank you beautiful soul for your light in this world!