I was seeking for a practical guide to help me with my health issues after being diagnosed with chronic Leukemia. My search led me to Ananta Ripa Ajmera and the Wellness Ambassador Program. When I signed up for the program, I didn’t realize it would shift my thinking, and my approach to life in a profound way.
We went on an Ayurvedic journey to establish some foundational principles, to build a conscious connection to the body, and thus to our mind and spirit. To achieve the ultimate physical, mental health, and spiritual freedom, Ayurveda suggests following some simple lifestyle practices. Though it was not easy at first, I made the changes with the encouragement of Ananta and the group of people in the Wellness Ambassador program, one at a time. After adopting these changes, I can attest to the positive impacts they have had on my digestive system and my overall health.
First, we learned about eating according to our doshas. My health is based on my unique constitution or “doshas.” These doshas are believed to be responsible for a person’s physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual health. I was born with a primary dosha type, which determined my personality and health. There is a secondary dosha at play, based on my habits. It was very easy to determine my doshas by completing a simple questionnaire. I love how Ayurveda understands each one of us is a unique being and it provides us with customized solutions rather than one size fits all approaches.
Once I learned my own constitution, I was able to adopt proper foods to eat and most importantly avoid those foods that I thought were healthy but were harming me. For example, I was eating salads which are not great for my vata-pitta constitution. It was dampening my digestive fire, known as “agni”. Agni is responsible for digestion and absorption of food, which gives us the vital energy needed for optimal health. Furthermore, combining foods with vastly different properties can overwhelm your digestive fire.
I was suffering from indigestion, gas, bloating, and mental fog. I was so grateful to learn small yet profound practices to overcome this. For example, any milk and dairy products must be eaten away from all meals, on their own. Same with fruits, they have to be eaten on their own, preferably at room temperature. And proteins like meats, and fish should be eaten with vegetables only and not with grains.
Ananta taught us we are what we digest! According to Ayurveda, raw foods are considered cold, dry, light, rough, and Rajasic—a Sanskrit term that can be translated as activating or exhausting. Consuming foods with these qualities can strain our digestive fire and decrease our digestive capacity, particularly in someone like me who has weak digestion to start with. This can lead to poor absorption of nutrients, lack of nourishment to our tissues, imbalances in our body, and, ultimately illness or disease. In addition to eating warm and cooked foods, drinking warm water is encouraged.
Though it sounds obvious, I didn’t realize the impact of good oral hygiene. Your mouth is the first pathway to healthy eating, and it is crucial that you maintain optimal oral health. I learned to incorporate tongue cleaning/scraping as the first thing I should do upon waking. While we sleep, the entire body goes through a repairing and detoxing process and expels ama, a Sanskrit word for toxins. One way the toxins are eliminated is through the tongue – I learned that there’s a coating on the tongue at waking, that’s ama. By scraping your tongue, you’re helping the body’s natural detoxing process.
Ananta is a great teacher because she practices everything she taught us. As an example, she invited us to her kitchen (virtually) and taught us how to cook which was amazing. We literally cooked alongside with her via Zoom. I respect and admire her integrity. She is also very personable, and able to articulate the Ayurvedic principles in a simplified way for us to learn easily and quickly. I love Ananta’s spirit and her energy, she always has a smile, always willing to help and her unwavering support and can-do attitude inspired to also follow Ayurveda. I wanted she has!
I recommend anyone wishing to take control of your physical and mental health, to give the Wellness Ambassador program a try. The way Ananta structured the program, allowed the students to become “community buddies” and support each other while we’re learning; we became each others’ cheerleaders.
Going through the Wellness Ambassador Program was a transformational experience for me, as it has given me the tools and spirituality to not only understand myself as a physical being but also as a spiritual being. Once I was able to make the connection to my higher Self, I learned to respect my body in such a way I have never thought before. This mental change made it easier for me to add the Ayurveda practices to my everyday life consistently and reap the benefits. My digestion has improved, I have mental clarity and most importantly I have peace of mind.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SUGANTHI LEM is a 2021 Wellness Ambassador Program Graduate. She was a Senior Manager at Metrolinx, a Transit Agency in Toronto, Canada, part of the construction team that builds major transit projects. In addition to working in construction to build public transportation, Suganthi loves traveling around the world and building homes and schools for those in need. She has co-led a team of volunteers to Mongolia to help build a school in the Tsast-Altai Region and participated in building homes in Chile, Macedonia, Portugal and New Orleans USA to name a few countries.