Mette Westerholt is a danish Ayurvedic coach with a background in human biology that wants spread the knowledge of Ayurveda. She is also the founder of AYUS which is the danish Ayurveda platform with recipes, lifestyle tips, yoga practices and guided meditations.
We had a wonderful conversation with Mette about Ayurveda and how we can combine an Ayurvedic practice with yoga.
How were you first introduced to Ayurveda?
I have a background with a long academic education in human biology and biochemistry and I started working in research for a couple of years after I had finished my education. I just started my Ph.D. about medicinal plants that could help stress, anxiety and depression and we collected the plants in Latin America. It was at this point that I had a huge mental breakdown and got stress, depression and anxiety. So I really needed to work on myself and to build up myself from scratch. In a way it was the irony of fate. I was forced to rethink what I wanted because what I had built up with my career did not make sense anymore. So it was at this time during my depression that I by coincidence found Ayurveda and started to treat myself by using Ayurvedic practices, herbs and methods. It is since then I have been into Ayurveda and decided to educate me within Ayurveda. So I took my Ayurvedic education with Charlotte Bech, that is also a medical doctor, because the perspective of combining the holistic way of thinking with scientific biological knowledge spoke a lot to me.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a holistic health system from India that is a sister science to yoga. Besides focusing on treatment of diseases it looks upon prevention. This is a somewhat of the opposite of the western world that focus more on the symptoms and how to relive them. So Ayurveda is trying to see the bigger picture; body, mind, and spirit. Ayurveda is not a quick fix though. You cannot just take a certain herb and feel good, you must want to work with yourself in a more profound way, because Ayurveda is also a way of thinking and living.
My clients often get surprised by the Ayurvedic practices they get because the practices are a lot of common sense that we all are aware of. We just have to be reminded of it. For example Ayurvedic practices recommends to go to bed early, get a good night's sleep, and make sure that we eat nourishing food. The problem in today's world is that we are so disconnected from nature and that is why in Ayurveda we need to reconnect to nature that surrounds us. But most importantly to connect with our inner self, our own true nature, because everyone is unique which is something we need to keep in mind in Ayurveda. We all need different things and are different from one another. So in Ayurveda, we are focusing on our uniqueness, that we all for example should not eat the same food. And this is done by using the different Ayurvedic types also known as doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha to understand a person's uniqueness and nature.
How do you know what Ayurvedic type you are?
The easiest way is of course to contact an Ayurvedic counsellor. There is also a lot of test on the internet, but that are superficial and does not give the full perspective. It is also important to remember that people are mostly a mix of two ayurvedic types and when we work with Ayurveda we typically treat and focus on the most dominant one. Your Ayurvedic type also changes throughout your life and that is why it is necessary to regularly make sure which of the Ayurvedic energies that are out of balance.
How does it work if you are one Ayurvedic type while your partner is another - how do you cook that with your meals when you need different food?
That is a really good question which I get a lot. People often think that it is very complicated to incorporate Ayurveda as some of the family members maybe are different Ayurvedic types. But it is not so difficult. If you for example are not supposed to eat a lot of spicy food, while your partner needs spicy food - you can just add the spices afterward. In that way everyone gets what they need. In reality, it is a very good thing if you and your partner is different Ayurvedic types because in that way you are balancing each other.
How is Ayurveda connected to yoga?
Ayurveda is very much related to yoga. Back in the accent times in India, it started as two interconnected disciplines, but it got separated when yoga came to the western world. So for me, it makes the most sense to do yoga if you also do Ayurveda. Because originally yoga focused on the mind, but if you don't eat the right food and have a healthy lifestyle then your yoga practice does not make so much sense. That is why, as I see it, it is so important to combine the two practices, the Ayurvedic way of living together with yoga.
What yoga should a person practice depending on their Ayurvedic type?
You Ayurvedic type will influence what type of yoga is best for you to practice, for how long time, and at what time of the day you should practice it. If you for example are a Kapha type that is the slower type: then you should do a more fiery yoga that gets your pulse up as for example a kind of flow or ashtanga yoga. If you on the other hand is Vata that is dominated by the airy and wind energy you should focus on a slow and calm yoga practice building up grounding. While if you are a Pitta type with a lot of fire in you, then you should do some cooling yoga exercises. So you should do the opposite to what your Ayurvedic type is in order to balance it.
How was the idea of AYUS born?
I can see how many positive and good effects Ayurveda does has both for me and my clients and I just want to spread that knowledge with everyone as much as I can. The idea actually started when my clients first started to ask me about where they could find Ayurvedic recipes online in danish and good meditations for them to practice - but I did not know where to send them because online recipes did not exist anywhere. So I thought about collecting my own tings where I could 100% guarantee that it is content that I stand behind. So that is when AYUS was born.
How do you practice Ayurveda in your daily life and what changes have you made in your life?
Ayurveda has really changed my entire life. People who I knew before would probably not even recognize my new lifestyle (in a good way). I truly use Ayurveda from when I get up in the morning to when I go to sleep in the night. But I think the biggest change I made when I first got introduced to Ayurveda was moving from the big city life in Copenhagen to a calmer life in the countryside.
Daily, I have a lot of Ayurvedic practices:
- I always start the day by waking up before 6 every morning and straight away as I wake up, I take sesame oil into my mouth which is a very common Ayurvedic practice.
- I then brush my teeth and use a tongue scraper which is known to be a detox procedure in Ayurveda. It is actually said in Ayurveda that our tongue communicates our health and the more toxins we have in our body, the more of that white layer on our tongue we will have. That is why this has become such an important practice for me in the morning.
- Afterward, I make sure to drink a big glass of hot water to cleanse and detox my body from the night.
- I then like to have my golden latte with turmeric, warm milk, and ghee in it. I really like to use ghee as it is a good fat that balances the fire I have in me as I am the ayurvedic type Pitta. I also use ghee to cook my food.
- I do my morning meditation to have peace in my mind before I start my day and this has become such an important practice that I cannot live without. It feels like my day cannot start if I have not done my meditation practice.
- I also really like to do an oil massage on myself before I shower and use aromatherapy with essential oils.
- Another Ayurvedic practice I do is that I also go to sleep early every night. So I do so many different Ayurvedic practices in my everyday life and it has become a part of my way of living.
If there are any of our readers who are interested to learn more about Ayurveda, where would you advise them to start?
I would say that they should follow their intuition and take the path that feels right for them. While some people want to start with diving into the food aspect of Ayurveda, others want to dive into the essential oils and the aroma therapy. There is no right way to start. Ayurveda is all about listening to yourself. It should never be something that you push yourself to do - it has to come from your inner motivation and because you feel like it.
If you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda I do also recommend contacting an Ayurvedic counselor to really learn how you can practice Ayurveda in your everyday life.
Do you want to get to know more about Mette? Follow her here! ♡