The ancient healing system called Ayurveda originated in India 5000 years ago. Ayurveda focuses on the individual as a whole; physically, emotionally and spiritually. Ayurveda uses various techniques and tools to unlock the human potential that has been buried within a being to bring about healing and a return to wholeness.
More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential.
The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda are 1) the mind and the body are inextricably connected, and 2) nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind. Freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body.
In Ayurveda, the aim in all aspects of life – physical, emotional and spiritual – is balance and moderation. Suppression and avoidance are seen as contributors to disease and illness. In treatment, the goal is to release and eliminate toxins that have accumulated in the body, as well as restore balance and harmony. Forms of Ayurvedic treatment include meditation, herbal oil treatments, skin and lymphatic detoxification, relaxation therapy and massage.
Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. Its concepts about health and disease promote the use of herbal compounds, special diets, and other unique health practices.
Key concepts of Ayurvedic medicine include universal interconnectedness (among people, their health, and the universe), the body’s constitution (prakriti), and life forces (dosha), which are often compared to the biologic humors of the ancient Greek system. Using these concepts, Ayurvedic physicians prescribe individualized treatments, including compounds of herbs or proprietary ingredients, and diet, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations.
When fully balanced, living a lifestyle in harmony with nature and one’s type, stilling the mind with techniques like yoga, breathing and meditation along with proper diet, exercise, and herbal support, as needed, one can set the stage for optimal health and emotional growth.
Ayurveda attributes 80% of all disease to imbalances of the digestive system and, therefore, much attention is given to its maintenance.
In Ayurveda, as the digestive system is also our detoxification system, when the digestion breaks down, so does the ability to detox.
Ayurveda is a personalized approach to health, and knowing your mind-body type allows you to make optimal choices about diet, exercise, supplements, and all other aspects of your lifestyle.
We are a reflection of the Earth around us, comprised of her elements: Air, Ether, Fire, Water and Earth. These five elements come together to create the three Doshas or energies: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is comprised of Air and Ether; Pitta is comprised of Fire and Water; Kapha is comprised of Earth and Water. These Doshas exist within us, the foods we eat and the environments we live in. Everything can be related to the Doshas — they’re essentially the language we use to describe things in Ayurveda.
Eat a colorful, flavorful diet
Next to breathing, eating is our most vital bodily function. To create a healthy body and mind our food must be nourishing. Ideal nutrition comes from consuming a variety of fresh foods that are appropriately prepared and eaten with awareness. A simple way to make sure that you are getting a balanced diet is to include the six Ayurvedic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent) in each meal. Doing so will ensure that all major food groups and nutrients are represented. When you include all six tastes, you will also notice that you feel satisfied and that the urge to snack and overeat will diminish.
Along with the six tastes, filling your plate with the colors of the rainbow promotes a long and healthy life. Foods that are deep blue, purple, red, green, or orange are leaders in antioxidants and contain many nutrients that boost immunity and enhance health.
Strengthen your digestive power
As Ayurveda teaches, good health is dependent upon our capability to fully metabolize the nutritional, emotional, and sensory information that we ingest. When our digestive energy, known as agni (fire), is robust, we create healthy tissues, eliminate waste products efficiently and produce a subtle essence called ojas. Ojas, which may be envisioned as the source of our vitality, is the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength, and immunity. On the other hand, if our agni is weakened, digestion is incomplete and lead to an accumulation of toxic residue known as ama. The buildup of ama in the body mind leads to obstructions in the flow of energy, information, and nourishment, and is the basis of all disease.
Here are a few Ayurvedic practices to strengthen your digestive fire:
- Always sit down to eat (don’t eat in front of your computer or TV or while you’re driving).
- Eat in a settled atmosphere and not when you’re upset.
- Don’t eat until you’re definitely hungry.
- Dine at a moderate pace. Don’t gulp down your food or eat too slowly.
- Minimize raw foods, which are much harder to digest than cooked ones.
- Include all six tastes at each meal.
- Drink hot water with ginger throughout the day.
- Practice some form of moderate exercise on a regular basis.
- Perform a daily oil massage with herbalized oil that balances your mind-body type. Find instructions for a self-massage.
- Spend time in the quiet of meditation every day.
- Use detoxifying herbs such as triphala, ashwagandha, guggulu, brahmi, ginger, turmeric and neem.
Get abundant restful sleep
A lack of restful sleep disrupts the body’s innate balance, weakens our immune system, and speeds up the aging process. Human beings generally need between six and eight hours of restful sleep each night. Restful sleep means that you’re not using pharmaceuticals or alcohol to get to sleep but that you’re drifting off easily once you turn off the light and are sleeping soundly through the night. If you feel energetic and vibrant when you wake up, you had a night of restful sleep. If you feel tired and unenthusiastic, you haven’t had restful sleep.
Exercise: Tune in to your body
Sports, martial arts, yoga, Tai Chi and other disciplines.