Written by John Immel,
Know Your Early Warning Signs of ImbalanceYou know that feeling the day before you come down with a cold? The warning signs of a cold include aches and pains, stuffy nose, cloudy thoughts, and general fatigue. These signs are 24-hour warning signs to stay home, get some rest, and eat healthy foods.
What if you could feel your illnesses coming a week in advance, or even two? Ayurveda teaches you to recognize your body's signs of imbalance so that you can maintain your resilience to diseases and illnesses. Surprisingly, the first signs of imbalance are often emotional. These emotions cause changes in your beliefs and behaviors, eventually stressing your body. Loneliness and inadequacy often drive people to behave as they wouldn't otherwise, from staying out late to falling into addictions. Eventually, physical symptoms manifest.
If you could recognize changes in your body and attitude as early as possible, you would have a chance to make choices that are supportive of your health ahead of time.
Learning how to discover your warning signs is a bit like filling in a crossword puzzle - you have to be a great detective and learn how to interpret the clues. My dad's warning signs, for example, are swollen hands. My warning signs are insomnia. Everyone has unique warning signs of imbalance, but here are some commons ones:
4 Steps to Find Your Warning Signs
JournalingBuy a notebook to use just for journaling about your health. This is something you can refer back to over and over again through the years and see very clear patterns emerge. Once you've recognized an early warning sign, take careful notes of your diet, activities, digestion, elimination, and the weather for the 48 hours leading up to the symptom. This will help you identify which qualities, doshas, and tastes are out of balance in your body, and what circumstances aggravate or bring those on most frequently.
Many diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, wax and wane. When diseases are intermittent, that's a sign they may be curable using basic Ayurvedic techniques. If your disease flares up on Tuesday, for example, you have an opportunity to examine your diet and lifestyle to figure out what's causing the imbalance. Journaling is important to capture the unique conditions and patterns that aggravate and pacify the disease.
Finding Your Reset ButtonEveryone falls off the wagon occasionally (more often than we'd like to admit). It's important to recognize this as part of the growth process. Accept it and learn from it instead of becoming discouraged. Use difficulties as a way to fill in another piece of the crossword puzzle. Then, when you do indulge, learn the reset buttons you can use to get your body back to square one. Gentle laxatives, easy-to-digest food, and an early night to bed will reset most Vata people. A day of rest and a walk in nature are often good reset buttons for Pitta. Kapha people could use a little exercise, light food with bitters, and hot teas to reset.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
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