What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 5,000 years ago in India. It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.
Ayurveda emphasizes good health and prevention and treatment of illness through lifestyle practices (such as massage, meditation, yoga, and dietary changes) and the use of herbal remedies.
A Holistic Approach
Ayurveda is a holistic approach where physical existence, mental existence, and personality is a unit, with each element being able to influence the others.This holistic approach is used during diagnosis and therapy, and is a fundamental aspect of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda has eight ways to diagnose illness, called Nadi (pulse), Mootra (urine), Mala (stool), Jihva (tongue), Shabda (speech), Sparsha (touch), Druk (vision), and Aakruti (appearance). Ayurvedic practitioners approach diagnosis by using the five senses. For example, hearing is used to observe the condition of breathing and speech.
Ayurveda follows the concept of Dinacharya, which says that natural cycles (waking, sleeping, working, meditation etc.) are important for health. Hygiene, including regular bathing, cleaning of teeth, skin care, and eye washing, is also a central practice.
Ayurvedic Care for Health and Wellness
Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create this balance of body, mind and consciousness according to one’s own individual constitution and how to make lifestyle changes to bring about and maintain this balance.
Principles of Ayurveda: Balance and Harmony
Ayurveda considers person healthy when his physiology is balanced, his digestion and metabolism are functioning well, his tissues and excretion functions are normal, and his mind and senses are in a constant state of profound happiness. It considers individual as a unit formed by his mind, body and soul.
Each living being is attached to the universe through five fundamental elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. The proportions in which each of these elements are present in the human body and the degree of the benefits that these elements offer vary from individual to individual depending upon their compositions and other important factors.
These components manifest within each individual in the form of three vital forces called doshas that represent three types of constitutions: vata, pitta and kapha.
Ayurveda states that a balance of these doshas results in health, while imbalance results in disease. Also each individual is born with a certain proportion of the three doshas that work together on the mind and body. These doshas are not static and vary throughout the life of an individual changing according to their age, environment, physical activities or external factors such as climate, food or pollution.
Thus, health and wellness is dependent on the balance between the doshas. To protect them or to find them, the Ayurveda possesses a whole arsenal of treatments: preparations from medicinal plants, massage with oil, stimulating cares and detoxifiers. It also advocates practicing yoga and meditation regularly and recommends an adapted diet, preferably vegetarian.
Balance and Detoxification: Curing the Ayurvedic Way
It is recommended to detoxify the body once-a-year as the toxins are considered to be the source of imbalance, diseases and fatigue. Certain treatments can help in losing weight or improving the skin quality in addition to the cleansing of the body.
The Ayurvedic cure includes massages, taking natural medicines and following a complete dietary routine, complemented with light physical activities.
If you wish to learn more about Ayurveda, we highly recommend Vasant Lad’s book.
Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing: A Practical Guide