Sahara Rose has been called “a leading voice for the millennial generation into the new paradigm shift,” by Deepak Chopra—powerful stuff, for a woman who hasn’t even hit her thrities.
We sat down with Ayurvedic expert and healthy chef Sahara Rose to learn more about Ayurveda, her upcoming book, and why it’s so important to eat right for your mind-body type. Keep scrolling for a fascinating (and informative!) break down on this ancient dietary tradition.
What peaked your initial interest in Ayurvedic Theory?
My own health issues! I suffered from chronic digestive issues that no Doctor could figure out the root cause of. I was told it was something I would just have to deal with or take a pill to mask the symptoms of. I decided to become my own investigator and really dove into the intricacies of the digestive system, which eventually brought me to Ayurveda. Ayurveda is based on finding the right diet for your unique digestive system- in fact, according to Ayurveda, it’s not you are what you eat but you are what you digest. I became fascinated by this science and ended traveling to India to study it alongside Doctors and Practitioners for over two years, later writing my book The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda (out August 8th) with foreword by Deepak Chopra (who wrote the first-ever Ayurveda book to hit the US mainstream audience!) I realize now my health issues were given to me to allow me to become a better healer. I am now certified in Ayurvedic, Holistic and Sports Nutrition, as well as a wellness blogger, Plant-Based Chef and Recipe Developer.
So what IS Ayurveda?
Great question! 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 must always be practiced together for complete mind-body balance, which is what a lot of people are missing. Ayurveda contains nutritional suggestions, morning and nightly routines, lifestyle suggestions, meditation practices and more for living your optimum life.
Ayurveda means “the knowledge of life” in Sanskrit because in order to have health you must have full knowledge of your life. While in the West, you tend to just look at symptoms isolated from one another, in Ayurveda, everything is interconnected. As an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I ask people just as much about their dreams as I do their digestion. The mind and body are interconnected and every single part of us has its own intelligence.
Ayurveda is rising in popularity as people are realizing the benefits of living a yogic lifestyle, outside of just the asana practice. So many people, like myself, have jumped from one diet to a next and Ayurveda offers a solution: there is no one diet for all people or even you. I’m really excited for my book The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda to bring Ayurveda further into the mainstream and empower people to become their own healers. Our bodies contain so much wisdom- it just takes learning about its subtleties to access it.
What makes an Ayurvedic diet and cooking different from others?
Ayurveda is catered to your unique mind-body type, called a Dosha, so no diet will look the same for two people. On top of that, what we need as individuals is always changing. In the summer we need more cooling foods while in the winter we need more warming foods. We also have different nutritional needs depending on our age, exercise levels, digestive qualities, environment, season and even the time of day.
What makes an Ayurvedic diet different from others is that there’s no such thing as one! It just depends on your unique body’s needs at the time. Some unique features about Ayurvedic cooking are that its focused on the digestive system, so it contains lots of spices such as turmeric and ginger which help increase nutrient absorption and elimination. I like to apply Ayurvedic theories to all types of cuisine, however, not just traditional Indian ones and that’s how my approach is a bit different than others out there!
What are some do’s & don’ts of Ayurvedic Theory?
1. The number one rule is you must eat right for your mind-body type. There are three mind-body types, called Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. I like to call them Wind, Fire and Earth because that’s really what they are.
2. Think about wind-like characteristics in the mind and body. That’s Vata. Vatas have cold, dry, ever-changing, unpredictable physical and mental characteristics. Think bloating, gas, constipation, dry skin, creativie but also sometimes anxiety or insomnia.
3. Think about fire-like characteristics in the mind and body. That’s Pitta. Pittas have hot, sharp, acidic and powerful characteristics. Think heartburn, getting hot easily, sharp appetite, oily skin, determination, strength but sometimes impatience or anger.
4, Think about Earth-like characteristics in the mind and body. That’s Kapha. Kaphas have cool, dense, stable, heavy minds and bodies. Think tendency to gain weight easily, moist skin, thick hair, calm personalities but sometimes a little lazy or resistant to change.
5. Your do’s and don’t will depend on what ratio you have of each Dosha, which can change throughout the course of our lives. I have a free quiz on my website, iamsahararose.com, that helps you determine how much of each Dosha you have in your mind and in your body. Unlike any other quiz, I separate the results between the mind and body to give you a complete overview of what’s going on in you. The quiz goes into a free three-day mini course to educate you more on the do’s and don’ts for each mind-body type!
Your new book, Idiot’s Guide To Ayurveda, which will be released August 8th, congrats!! Tell us a little more about what we can expect and why you decided to write it.
Thank you! I wrote it as the exact book I wish I had when I began my Ayurvedic journey. I was intrigued by the concept of eating right for your mind-body type but felt confused by all these “Doshas” and elements and confusing Sanskrit terminology.
On top of that, I really wasn’t vibing with a lot of the suggestions, such as eating rice and mung beans for every meal. I come from a raw vegan and sports nutrition background so I wasn’t going to go from kale smoothies to rice, lentils and ghee for the rest of my life. However, as my own health problems began to deteriorate, I decided to give Ayurveda a try, but in my own modern, vegan way.
I was living in India at the time teaching Health and Sanitation in the slums and decided to take an Ayurvedic Nutrition and Cooking Class to become more acquainted with the subject and complement my Holistic Health Coaching Practice. The moment I got that first Ayurveda textbook handed to me and looked at how confusing it was and how much of it contradicted with the nutrition I learned in the west, I knew it was my dharma, life’s purpose, to write a book bridging ancient Ayurvedic healing wisdom with modern western nutritional science and plant-based recipes. There was so much incredible insight in this health system but it was so inaccessible to everyday Western people like me.
On top of that, I realized the reason raw foods were forbidden in Ayurveda is because no one can eat them in India- you’ll literally get sick from the bacteria in the soil. I began creating my own approach to modernizing this ancient healing tradition in a way that could be used across the globe.
I began writing a book, which I called Eat Right For Your Mind-Body Type, merging ancient Ayurvedic wisdom with modern Western nutritional science. I wasn’t sure who would ever even read it, but something deep within me called to keep going. I ended up spending two years in India studying Ayurveda and writing over 1000 pages of material.
No one understood why I was dedicating my life to this ancient healing system that even most of my Indian friends knew nothing about. However, something inside me told me I would be the one to share it. I immersed myself in Ayurveda and the more I learned about it, the more it felt like I was remembering something I was once knew for a thousand years before. All of the concepts came very intuitively to me- I often had the answers to many of my own questions, which was crazy. There is no doubt in my mind that this isn’t the first life I’ve been practicing Ayurveda.
What is some advice for people interested in Ayurveda and want to begin incorporating Ayurvedic practices into their daily health regimen?
One simple rule that applies for all three mind-body types is to never drink ice cold water (or anything.) In Ayurveda, your digestion is like a fire and must be treated as such, gently kindled to brighten it’s flames. Drinking ice cold water, smoothies or soda is like pouring ice-water over a fire. It’ll put it out. When your digestion isn’t strong, you aren’t able to break down foods, absorb its nutrients and release its toxins. The first thing I had on my 31 Day Transformation Challenge that I am currently hosting with Deepak Chopra on his app, Jiyo, is for everyone to start their day with hot water. Then I instruct them to add lemon, then ginger, then make a tea with like cumin, coriander and fennel. Just with that progression, you’ll notice huge improvements in your digestion, skin, mood and overall health.
Where can we learn more about you and what you’re up to?
My Instagram is my second home, which is Instagram.com/IAmSaharaRose. I post Ayurvedic recipes, tips, quotes and suggestions multiple times a day.
My podcast is Highest Self Podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud, which goes more into the spiritual side of becoming your highest self through self-knowledge and reflection.