A decent part of yoga teacher training involves learning about Ayurveda. Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine traditionally practiced alongside yoga. At its core, Ayurveda is about living in harmony with nature. It’s about working to harmonize our mind-body systems so we can practice yoga and meditation from a more centered, grounded place. The particular imbalances we experience are a combination of our own constitution, our lifestyle, and outside influences (to name a few).
During my Yoga Therapy studies, I was required to read “The Book of Ayurveda: A Holistic Approach to Health and Longevity” by Judith H. Morrison. (It’s a lovely, readable and reference-able book, if you’re curious about this topic.)
Morrison describes triphala as “an herbal compound made up of three fruits or herbs”. As such, it help to balance all 3 Ayurvedic constitutions: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It’s often used to help with chronic constipation. While I did suffer that problem around this time, I was also particularly intrigued by the idea of taking it before bed. Would it help me sleep better?
On page 129, Morrison lists out several different ways to prepare triphala powder.
To start, I boiled some water and brewed 1/2 tsp of the powder for 5 minutes, like tea. (The instructions on the bag said I could use 1/4 or 1/2 tsp.) With or without drinking “the dregs”, it was gross. The L.A. Story Steve Martin quote, “It’s exactly like licking a shag carpet” randomly came to mind. Truly.
The next day I decided to try 1/4 tsp and the method of soaking the triphala powder in room temperature water ALL DAY. I thought this just HAD to be more disgusting; even though it was a bit smaller dose, it would have a longer time to steep. Oddly, it was somewhat tolerable.
Day 3, I decided that I’d just mix that 1/4 tsp into “tepid” water and drink. Who has time for all that soaking anyway? Hmmmph. MUCH better when soaked. (This was back to the shag carpet.)
When I went back to the book, I noticed that Morrison DID say that the strongest preparation is via simmering; the weakest by soaking.
Drinking even the weak version before bed seemed to help me sleep a little bit better, at least temporarily. Some nights I noticed that drinking just half the cup made me feel tired. At the time, that feeling of sleepiness, which I craved so much, was totally worth putting some powder in a mug and letting it sit on the counter for 8 hours. But it was worth the odd taste and this effort for only so long.
Several years later I realized that what was most helping me feel tired and sleep better was the self-care–the very ACT of sitting down with a warm beverage and nourishing myself.
Since I focused my work on Sleep Wellness Coaching, other practitioners and businesses often reach out to me. They ask me to recommend their sleep products, drinks, and pills. I hate to disappoint them, but I do. I now know that no supplement, no powder, no pillow or blanket provides a lasting solution. Sleep and our issues with it are much more complex than these band-aids.
Now, it’s my pleasure to help move people from feeling frustrated and fatigued to feeling refreshed and energized: without any nasty tasting fluids (“natural” or otherwise)!