THE WELL Q&A: Ananta Ripa Ajmera

Our Director of Ayurveda on living a healthy, balanced and spiritual life

What does wellness mean to you?

Living in integrity with my deepest values.

Three non-negotiables in your life?

Truth, freedom, honesty.

The book you own that is the most dog-eared?

Currently, it's Vedanta Treatise: The Eternities by Swami A. Parthasarathy.

On-the-go snack?

In Ayurveda, we are typically warned against too much snacking as it can disrupt digestion. So when I do snack, I like to have raisins, dates or figs as they are digestion-friendly and delicious.

Instagram account that gets the most likes?
Early bird or night owl?

Most definitely early bird! Waking up early (between 4 to 6 a.m.) yields tremendous physical and mental health benefits — such as healthy digestion (marked by timely morning elimination), greater ease in actually awakening, mental cheerfulness, clarity and so much more. The early morning hours are a magical time of spiritual inspiration, which is why this time, known as brahmamuhurta in Sanskrit, is harnessed for yogic practices of all kinds, including meditation. 

Top beauty secret?

Aloe vera is my favorite beauty product. It has an incredible cooling quality for the skin and even anti-wrinkle and anti-aging qualities. I apply it to my face and use it to wash my hair.

What are your wellness travel essentials?

Small packets of coconut or sesame oil, a tongue cleaner and jasmine essential oil.

Key to a good night's sleep?

A calm, resolved mind and a healthy kapha dosha (the Ayurvedic bioforce made of earth and water elements). Sleep imbalances are typically caused by an increase in vata and/or pitta doshas, which can be counterbalanced by introducing healthy kapha dosha foods, milk and oil into your daily lifestyle. Rubbing the feet with warm sesame oil before bedtime is one amazingly simple and potent way to promote healthy sleep. 

Rubbing the feet with warm sesame oil before bedtime is one amazingly simple and potent way to promote healthy sleep. 

When you really need to chill out, you...

I draw upon the powerfully grounding quality of smell. I will literally smell a flower (or flower-infused essential oil).

Instant mood lifter?

Jasmine and marigold flowers. Their scent uplifts the mood and their petals can be infused into teas that uplift the mind and soothe excess heat in the body. 

Food philosophy?

I truly believe that food is medicine. It, quite literally, creates the body and mind. Ayurveda has a deep and detailed seasonal food philosophy that gives incredible guidance for staying healthy year round.

Morning and bedtime rituals?

I always begin my morning with ancient spiritual rituals. The first of which is a practice of gazing at my hands, and affirming that the powers of creativity, abundance and knowledge live in my own hands. This single practice has empowered me to make countless changes in my life and to hold others’ hands as they did the same. I close my day with another affirmation from the Vedas, to be led from untruth to truth, from darkness to light and from identification with my changing body and mind to a deeper connection with the immortal soul.

Most used condiment?

Cilantro, basil and mint leaves

How do you take your coffee or tea?

I'm not much of a coffee or tea drinker, but when I do, I like jasmine tea.

In your salad?

Warm, cooked items always — this is one food practice that makes a world of a difference in terms of overall digestive health. 

Hydration strategy?

Drinking water boiled with coriander seeds once it has cooled down is an amazing thirst quencher. It also promotes great digestion.

Simple smoothie recipe?

Almond fig shake: Take 2 cups almond milk + 2 fresh figs chopped slightly (dried is fine, fresh is better) + 2 tsp sugar (or to taste) + pinch of cardamom powder. Blend together and enjoy! You can substitute coconut milk, if you like.

Go-to wellness gift?

My book, The Ayurveda Way, is designed as a gift book that I love giving as a present. I also love gifting people beautiful journals. 

Words to live by?

Stop outer seeking. Be love. Have high standards, healthy boundaries and courage, truthfulness and authenticity always.

When you feel a cold coming on, you...

Simplify and reduce my food content and include warm spices. (An oncoming cold is a signal that digestion must be strengthened.) When I feel a runny nose coming on, I will also make a paste out of dry ginger powder and water and apply across my nose to help prevent a full on cold. 

What's sacred to you?

I find so much sacredness in my daily routine practices — from waking up early in the morning to showering to the work that I do. I feel my whole life is sacred. I always aim to come from the deepest space within my being to connect with what is sacred within each person I meet. 

How do you reboot?

Simple meals and rest. And reading books on Vedanta (a spiritual system of philosophy on the nature of the soul).

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