Dr Shaun Matthews and the Art of Balanced Living


 From his most memorable meal in an Indian village to yoga for your body type, Dr Shaun Matthews, whose regular visits to the ‘Shire’ are his way of rejuvenating, explores how to live a balanced life in his latest book, writes Tanja Taljaard.

Have you ever experienced a meal so delicious that the memory endures for decades? A meal where a combination of factors has to come together to leave this lasting impression – the loving intention of the cook, the physical setting and the company.

In The Art of Balanced Living Dr Shaun Matthews recalls his most memorable meal in a village in India, and how the purity of the experience impressed itself indelibly on his mind. From an Ayurvedic perspective this meal met all the necessary requirements for a truly nourishing meal, creating contentment that lasted long after he had finished eating.

The right diet and lifestyle for your body type introduces us to the essential principles of the Ayurvedic approach to nourishment; an approach that encourages us to enjoy our food to the maximum and at the same time to use it to balance our body, mind and emotions.

Dr. Shaun Matthews

The Art of Balanced Living: Dr. Shaun Matthews

Ayurveda is a time-honoured system of healing from India. In Ayurveda, the relationship between the grower and the food is fundamental to understanding the qualities of the ingredients. It encourages us to have a more intimate relationship with the food we consume. When we favour fruit and vegetables grown locally, it will reflect the season and climate we live in. Ayurveda also encourages whole, unprocessed food which vital force has not been diminished, as food is seen as energy that can restore balance to your body. It understands the energy of food through its qualities – warm or cold, light or heavy, moist or dry, rough or smooth, oily or non-oily. Using this understanding will help you see what kinds of foods are most likely to balance your body type. Dr Matthews shares the principles of the three body types or doshas– Vata (air and space) Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (earth and water). Using the Ayurvedic body type self-assessment chart to identify your body type, it can help you to gain a better understanding of your own physical and psychological nature.

Let food be your medicine (Hippocrates)

With a basic understanding of which dosha or doshas are dominant in your body type, you can begin to get a sense of what kind of food, drinks and activities are most likely to keep you balanced. Our doshas are constantly in a state of flux and are influenced by our diet, lifestyle, the weather, our state of mind and our emotions. The book shows how, using Ayurveda, we can create habits in our lives that really work for us and at the very least counterbalance activities that have a negative effect on our wellbeing. It gives practical tools to retain our vitality and mental equilibrium, as well as insights into relationships and living with other body types. When you’re in balance you’re more likely to be understanding and equipped maintain happy and satisfying relationships.

Matthews also shares a series of gentle yoga postures, and explains how you can adjust your yoga practice for your Auyruvedic body type. He includes conscious breathing exercises and pranayama (breath control) practices that are safe, easy to learn and appropriate for all body types.


The lost art of oil self-massage is another wonderful tool that the book introduces us too. It is known as abhyanga, and an important part of preventive medicine in Ayurveda. It’s a practice that can easily be incorporated into your daily routine, and truly has a rejuvenating and nourishing effect on both body and mind.

The chapter on cultivating a quiet mind in an increasingly fast-paced and frenetic world focuses on mindfulness and meditation. The practice of meditation can also help support your intuition. It’s an integral part of the practice of yoga – yoga preparing the body-mind for the practice of meditation. The book also gives a brief overview of the four main yogic paths – karma, bhakti, raja and jnana yoga and is designed to suit different human temperaments. Vedic astrology and its importance as a sister science of Ayruveda and yoga is discussed, and can be a powerful tool for personal guidance and helping you live to your full potential.

Ayurveda says that establishing a daily routine that creates habits of self-care is a sacred duty. The book suggests practices that are both inspiring and flexible, so that integrating them into your lifestyle doesn’t feel unrealistic or overly ambitious.

There are many delicious recipes included in the book, herbal teas to balance Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas, as well as meal plans for the three body types.

The Ayurvedic approach to the Art of Balanced Living is beautifully presented in this book. It combines practical guidelines and ancient wisdom in a very approachable and holistic way.

The Art of Balanced Living by Dr. Shaun Matthews is published by Finch Books, rrp $29.99, e-book $12.99






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