Ayurveda — An Introductory Guide
Ayurveda is a mind-body healing system that recognizes that an individual is the totality of their experience. So a person’s condition is affected by everything in their life, including diet, what one thinks, feels, what behaviors one inherits from parents, lifestyle patterns, and stress levels. While a person may not have imbalances within all those arenas, the Science of Ayurveda helps address each area and find a state of balance where it is needed.
Ayurveda, The Science of Life
Ayurveda — meaning “The Science of Life,” or “Life Knowledge” — is one of the oldest holistic approaches to health in the world, and originated in a region which is now known as India thousands of years ago. “Health”, according to Ayurvedic theory, is achieved by addressing the root cause of disease, understanding that the mind, body, and spirit are all part of the picture. This is a profoundly different approach from the one of Western Medicine, which tends to treat individual symptoms. Ayurveda has many acute treatments available for diseases/symptoms – but the real focus is on avoiding sub-optimal nutrition and lifestyle choices that cause disease.
How Ayurveda Works
Ayurveda focuses on bringing balance into your life through:
- food as medicine,
- herbal remedies,
- lifestyle choices & habits,
- body therapies,
- and contemplation.
Ayurveda Recognizes Your Unique Constitution
Ayurveda places a great deal of importance on you and your unique constitution, called your dosha.
Ayurveda believes that “nothing works for everyone, but something will work for everyone.” You are an individual, not a stereotype, and not your symptoms. You must be treated as an individual if you wish to bring balance into your life. What helps one person achieve balance, can completely throw a person with a different constitution out of balance (this is why Ayurveda cannot and should not be practiced by yourself). It is important to work with someone who has a great deal of education to help you identify your constitution, sort through your habits and lifestyle choices, and help you choose new patterns which will bring you into balance.
What throws a person out of balance? Life. Just being alive on the earth and interacting with the environment and other humans throws you out of balance. Food choices, daily life activities, your job, the weather, changes of season, physical pain, sleep patterns, genetics, environmental toxins, bacteria/viruses, and interactions with other humans all have their effects.
Ayurveda Teaches You How to Restore Balance
The science of Ayurveda looks at the root cause of disease in order to assist self-healing and optimize the body’s natural ability to create wellness and healing in the individual, taking into account all of a person’s unique characteristics. Through analyzation of digestion, psychological tendencies, emotional tendencies, aptitudes, physical characteristics, and their unique combination in the individual, Ayurveda helps us find our natural rhythm in the seasons, in the aging process, and in Nature. This promotes harmony, balance, and health in the body, mind, and soul. An Ayurvedic consultation can inform you about how and what to eat, which herbs to take, how to exercise, when to sleep, how to work, how to meditate and breathe, and how to pattern your daily life and routine in order to create a peaceful mind, a strong body, and a resilient immune system. To bring balance in Ayurveda, the imbalanced or dis-eased state of the individual is opposed to bring balance through the application of the opposite quality. For example, if someone is hot, cool them down; if someone has inflammation, apply an anti inflammatory diet, anti inflammatory herbs, anti inflammatory lifestyle choices. The culprits, or the causes of disease, are removed and replaced with new, harmonious, factors that support healing.
Your body and mind are always being pulled out of balance by a multitude of factors, and Ayurveda helps you to identify those factors, and determine what you must do to restore and maintain balance.