Ayurveda 101: Interview with Sahara Rose Ketabi

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The word Ayurveda comes from ayur, meaning “life,” and veda, meaning “science” or “knowledge.” It is the world’s oldest health system, originating from India over 5000 years ago it centres around balance, however, can often be quite intricate and overwhelming to decipher. Well known Ayurveda expert and nutritionist, Sahara Rose Ketabi’s new book: Idiot’s Guide: Ayurveda breaks it down in a beautiful, simple to understand way and reveals methods to discover your unique dosha (mind-body type) and balance your chakras, as well as simple plant-based recipes designed to promote healing. Deepak Chopra has hailed it as Ayurveda’s evolutionary step and: “A must-read for anyone coming to Ayurveda for the first time or as a readable brush-up for all. Sahara offers a contemporary explanation of Ayurvedic wisdom that resonates with today’s readers.” We sat down with the beautiful Sahara to discuss all things Ayurveda, find out what health and wellness means to her as well as discover some Ayurvedic tips and tricks from the guru herself!

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What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness is the total balance of the mind, body and spirit.. When I feel connected with my physical, mental and spiritual bodies and am totally in alignment with my truth.

Your wellness non-negotiable?
Yoga. It is the one thing that keeps my body open and my mind free. No matter where I go, I will spend at least the first 30 minutes of the day stretching and at home I practice 60 minutes of heated vinyasa daily.

Can you give us a break down of Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the world’s oldest health system, originating in ancient India 5000 years ago and the sister science of yoga. In fact, the two were meant to always must be practiced together for complete mind-body balance. Ayurveda contains nutritional suggestions, morning and nightly routines, lifestyle suggestions, yoga and meditation practices for leading your most radiant life. In fact, the Sanskrit word “Ayurveda” actually means “the knowledge of life” because in order to achieve health you must have complete knowledge of your entire life- mind, body and spirit.

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How can we incorporate Ayurveda into our everyday lives?
In Ayurveda, self-care is sacred because the way we treat our physical body is how we will feel emotionally. Our bodies are our temples and self-care is our worship.

I start my day off with tongue-scraping to remove the ama, toxins from my tongue surface. I follow it up by oil-puling, which is essentially Ayurvedic mouthwash. However, unlike antibacterial mouth-washes, it doesn’t kill the good bacteria along with the bad, so it only strips away the bad-bacteria that causes bad breath, toxicity and disease. Dry-brushing is another great practice to remove dead-skin cells and open up our pores, which is important for detoxification as our skin is our largest organ. Abhyanga self-oil massage is incredible for stimulating the lymphatic drainage system and toning muscles. I have entire chapters dedicating to your morning and nightly routines in my book, Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda, because they’re so essential!

What chakras are our bodies made up of and what does each one mean?
Yes, I have an entire chapter in my book all about the chakra system, which is so important for our personal healing processes! We have seven chakras: root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat and third eye. Each is located in a particular area in our body and has san associated physiology. We can tell when a chakra is balanced or imbalanced based on how we are feeling.

Root chakra= survival. When in balance, we feel secure and grounded. When out of balance, we feel fear and primal instincts.

Sacral chakra= sensuality. When in balanced, we are in good relationships. When out of balance, we have trouble with intimacy.

Solar plexus= identity. When in balance, we have a strong sense of self. When out of balance, we feel angry and power-hungry.

Heart= love. When in balance, we can give and receive love freely. When out of balance, we feel closed off to connections.

Throat= communication. When in balance, we are expressive and outspoken. When out of balance, we are unable to speak our truth and suffer from thyroid or sinus issues.

Third eye= intuition. When in balance, we have a deep inner-awareness of ourselves and surroundings. When out of balance, we are out of touch with our highest self and materialistic.

Crown chakra= When in balance, we have a deep awareness and understanding of the greater universe. When out of balance, we are out of touch with our Dharma, greater role in the universe.

How do you know if your chakras are unbalanced and do you have any quick ‘re-balancing’ tips?
See above for imbalance symptoms.

I have so many tips to re-balance the chakras and offer specific meditations, practices, crystals, essential oils and even colors that can help you balance each chakra in my book, Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda. Here are some super quick-tips to help you rebalance your chakras right away.

Root chakra= Walk in nature with your feet in the soil.

Sacral chakra= Belly-dance, practice tantric sex.

Solar plexus= Play sports, engage in a healthy debate.

Heart= Practice back-benders, which are called heart-openers in yoga.

Throat= Sing, speak your truth.

Third eye= Write down your dreams.

Crown= Meditate.

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Your favorite way to move your body and why?
I love practicing heated vinyasa yoga first thing in the AM to open up my physical body, which opens up channels in my mind. As a Vata-Kapha Dosha, I tend to run cold, so being in a heated room feels so nourishing to my entire system. It’s tough for me to break a sweat normally but in a heated class, I feel like I took a shower from within and it really detoxifies toxins from pollution, food, makeup and a host of other pollutants we are constantly exposed to, called garvisha in Ayurveda.

What does self-care mean to you?
Self-care means paying attention to the signals of your body while they are still whispers and not screams. It means doing what your body needs before you have no choice but to. It means taking time for yourself because you’re worth it.

Why is plant-based healing important?
Plants are life. They are radiant with prana, vital life force and you can feel the difference immediately when you switch to a plant-based diet. Meat is difficult to digest and extremely heavy on the digestive system. We take on the energy of everything we eat, so if we consume a cow that was violentally killed, we take on the fear and anger it felt at the time of it’s execution. Now research how shown our states of consciousness is altered by the foods we eat and we are constantly breathing in our sweat, which contains food particles of everything we’ve consumed. Blind studies have shown that both men and women find the sweat of meat-eaters less attractive as those on a plant-based diet.

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Your favorite recipe and would you mind sharing it?
Oh I have so many to choose from and post many on my website here. As part of my 31 Day Ayurvedic Challenge I recently hosted with Deepak Chopra, I had participants make this Easy Ayurvedic Cauliflower “Fried-Rice”-recipe which is both vegan and paleo.. not to mention delicious! Get the recipe here.

On a typical day, what would we find in your fridge?
Lots of greens (I always rotate to expose my body to new nutrients, avocados, cilantro, berries, vegan cheese, sprouts, cucumber, sprouted hummus, jicama, coconut yogurt, coconut water, mustard, probiotics, quinoa bread, flax seeds, coconut milk. I live in southern California where it’s very hot so I favor more cooling foods.

What does mindfulness mean to you?
Being aware of your breathe, your surroundings, your place in the universe.

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Do you have an easy meditation practice for someone just starting out?
I love guided meditations because they can take you places where you can’t go on your own and expand your consciousness. I teach meditations to help people heal their relationship with food, overcome emotional eating, connect with their mind and body, give up unhealthy habits and more in my Eat Right For Your Mind-Body Type 12 Week Program! I believe the missing step to leading a healthy lifestyle is the mindfulness aspect. We can know intellectually what foods to eat and how often to exercise but if we don’t reprogram our brains, our negative habits will just come right back. Instead of hiring a trainer, train your mind! I’m all about teaching self-empowerment so you can learn the tools you need to become your own healer.

Can you share any tips for mediating while traveling / on-the-go?
Ask yourself:

What do you hear?

What do you smell?

What do you taste?

What do you see?

What do you feel?

That will instantly take you back into yourself and can be practiced anywhere, anytime. We often forget where we are, which is what triggers anxiety. Come back to this day and place. You are safe.

Your number one tip for changing your mindset?
Ask yourself why. Why do you want to change your mindset? What’s the point? How would the world be different? If you don’t believe it yourself, you’re never going to do it. Get clear on WHY you want to change your mindset in the first-place. To make lots of money? Then what? You need to have a reason that is bigger than yourself.

Do it so you set a good example for your daughter who watches your every move. Do it so you can create a sustainable business that changes the world. Do it so you can become the leader you need to be to teach children in need. You have to have your why. It’s everything.

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Advice on manifesting?
Just like changing your mindset, you have to get clear on your why and make it bigger than yourself. If it’s just to benefit your own personal needs, the universe won’t respond. If your personal needs are aligned by the greater needs of the universe, your manifestation will come true. Make it bigger than you and state that you will use this opportunity to serve the planet. And when it happens, make sure you follow through otherwise karma will ensue. I have a whole podcast episode on my podcast Highest Self Podcast all about how I manifested collaborating with Deepak Chopra, so I truly believe you can manifest anything you desire.

Can you tell us more about doshas? Any tips on discovering our own?
We are a reflection of the Earth around us, comprised of her elements- Air, Ether, Fire, Water and Earth. These five elements come together to create the three Doshas or energies- Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Vata is comprised of Air and Ether; Pitta is comprised of Fire and Water; Kapha is comprised of Earth and Water.

To make the Doshas easier to comprehend, I like to call Vata the “wind” Dosha because it has wind-like characteristics; cold, dry, ever-moving and erratic. In the body, excess wind causes the gas, bloating constipation, dry skin, cold body temperature, cracking joints and other related symptoms.

Next, I like to call Pitta the “fire” Dosha because that’s what it’s like: hot, sharp and mighty. Pitta is the Dosha in charge of all transformation in the body; metabolism, digestion, nutrient absorption and assimilation. Those with excess Pitta in the body may experience heartburn, overheating and acne. They may also be hot-tempered and easily agitated.

Lastly, I call Kapha the “Earth” Dosha because it’s soothing and grounding like the Earth. Excess Kapha in the body can lead to weight-gain, heaviness and mucus accumulation and excess in the mind can cause depression, lethargy, binge/emotional eating and nostalgia.

I have a free quiz on my website IAmSaharaRose.com you can take to discover your unique mind-body type. Unlike any other Ayurvedic quiz out there, I separate the results of the mind and body and break them down into percentages, giving you a deep overview of your unique Doshic constitution. Take the quiz here.

Your top 3 Mind-Body Transformation tips?

  • Start your day with warm water
  • Eat the foods your current Doshic constitution needs.
  • Do the right kind of exercise for your body.

I go into great depth about the importance about these three things in my book, Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda!

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Do you have a bedtime ritual?
I love rubbing coconut oil on my whole body, reading a book and writing in my manifestation journal. If I have more time, I’ll take a bath filled with luxurious essential oils- always makes me feel like a goddess!

Your all time favorite affirmation/mantra?
One of my favorite that I teach on my program is:

I eat when I am hungry.

I stop when I am full.

Food is my nourishment.

I am already whole.

Sahara Rose is the best-selling author of the Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda (Penguin Random House) and has been called “a leading voice for the millennial generation into the new paradigm shift” by Deepak Chopra. She is a 26-year-old Certified Ayurvedic, Holistic and Sports Nutritionist, wellness blogger and host of the Highest Self Podcast, listed as top 7 podcasts by Yoga Journal. Sahara’s mission is to awaken people of their innate potential so they can share their gifts and fulfill their purpose on this planet.

Website: iamsahararose.com

Instagram: @iamsahararose

Twitter: @iamsahararose