Book review: 'Forever Young'

High-stress lifestyles can be overcome with regimens based on ancient Indian teachings

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 10:49am

Inspired by my travels to India, I was drawn to what Reenita Malhotra Hora, a lifelong devotee of ayurvedic medicine, had to say about holistic ways to cope with the stresses of life.

And in her new book Forever Young: Unleashing the Magic of Ayurveda, I was not disappointed.

Ayurveda could be called the oldest medical science in existence, passed down by the Vedic gods more than 5,000 years ago, according to Indian folklore.

Unlike Western medicine, which focuses on the physical, ayurveda acknowledges that the mind and body are intertwined.

So if we have high-stress lifestyles, drink too much coffee and alcohol, spend long hours under bright lights (which interrupts our natural rhythms) and eat based on whims rather than the seasons, our mind and body are both under pressure.

These stresses, Hora explains, cause imbalances that deplete our life energy, or ojas, and lead to ailments such as a feeling of heaviness in the mind and body, and intolerances to certain foods.

These problems, she says, cover up our true, radiant selves.

To strike a balance, we must first start determining our natural tendencies, called doshas, which are classified as: vata (air and space), pitta (fire and water) and kapha (water and earth). Combinations of these doshas exist within us - although one type tends to be dominant - and in the world around us.

I learned, for example, that I am a fiery pitta type, so I am prone to acne, heat toxins and many ills that end in "-itis". (I do suffer minor acne, gluten and lactose sensitivity and have had stomach issues for most of my adult life.) I am advised to take up calming beauty routines, yoga and avoid yeast, spicy foods, and stimulants such as alcohol and coffee.

A handy quiz in the book helps readers determine their dosha type, after which Hora offers practical tips on how Ayurveda can heal through balancing one's doshas.

Her short guidebook is packed with daily rituals and traditional recipes for home-made care products for the hair, skin and body; yoga practices for dosha balance; seasonal practices for well-being and even instructions for a do-it-yourself home detox retreat.

She promises that readers can achieve a state of purity and balance, which in turn will unlock their true inner beauty.

While many of the exotic treatments and practices may seem impractical for some - such as an intensive, 10-minute morning massage followed by eye and feet washing and nasal cleansing - the tips point to a simple underlying philosophy: it is vital to take care of oneself and to take the time to do just that.

This is a lesson often lost in our fast-paced lives.

Hora offers an alternative, accessible way to make practical changes in your life so you can bring about a better state of well-being and maximise your energy.

She says in her introduction: "This book is for anyone who wants to end the cycle of stress and exhaustion and the toll this takes on our health and appearance by making simple, sensible lifestyle changes." I couldn't put it better.

A book launch and signing event will be held on Thurs from 6.30pm-8pm at Dymocks, IFC Mall