The 5,000-year-old science of Ayurveda – the holistic approach of treating body and mind together – is growing in popularity. Here’s a heads-up on what it’s all about…
Ayurveda is the oldest surviving complete medical system in the world and has been practised for the last 5,000 years. The main concept is that each individual is different and has to be treated to balance his or her body, mind and soul to achieve best possible health and wellbeing.
Ayurveda literally means ‘the art of living wisely’ and is an ancient medical system that originated in India. Under-pinning Ayurveda is the basic belief that all things in the universe, living and non-living, are joined together and made of the same five gross natural elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. We remain healthy if we retain balance, interacting with our environment in an effective and wholesome way.
Choices about diet, exercise, profession and relationships all have the potential to create physical, emotional, or spiritual imbalances. This imbalance causes a lack of harmony and makes us more susceptible to disease. Ayurveda therefore is not simply a health care system but a form of lifestyle based on a vision of wholeness, not one of fragmentation. This is why the word holistic is used when speaking about this system.
Ayurveda is based on the principles of three doshas. Doshas are the energies that make up every individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body: The Tridosha is an Ayurvedic scientific law originating in India of experiences by practitioners of Ayurveda through observation and experiments over thousands of years. Any problem can be solved when the three doshas are balanced. The Tridosha are Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata, the catabolic dosha – This dosha is associated with all the movement in the body, whether spiritual like flow of thought or physical, like blood circulation, breathing and blinking. One major function of this is the flow of neural impulses. Since this dosha is characterised by movement, it can get easily unbalanced which can produce fear and anxiety.
Pitta dosha – This dosha is associated with the energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition. The change can be mental, as well as physical and if out of balance can cause anger.
Kapha, the anabolic dosha – The third dosha is associated providing structure and vitality to the mind and body. It also governs the water content of the body, even at the cellular level; and filling the empty parts of the body. At a psychological level, it is associated with primal emotions like love, envy, forgiveness, etc.
AYURVEDIC SYSTEM OF MEDICINE
Ayurveda teaches you to take responsibility for your own health according to the different stages of your life, the seasons and the environment you live, work and play in. A tailor-made, individualised personal wellness programme deals with your individual health requirements and encompasses diet and nutrition, medicinal herbs, massage, yoga, meditation, rest and relaxation, along with cleansing and rejuvenation programmes for healing the mind, body and spirit. When our body, mind and soul are in perfect harmony it is known as Sama Dosha (balanced Doshas).
TRADITIONAL AYURVEDIC THERAPIES
Abhyangam – general body massage. Abyangasnanam – medicated steam bath. Siroabhyanga – head massage. Pizhichil – medicated oil bath. Njavarakizhi – applying special warm herbal rice poultice on the body. Pathrapotlisweda – sweating by applying leaves and herbal steam. Udvarthanam – body massage with special herbal powders). Nasyam – nasal application of herbal oils and juices. Sirovasthy – therapy by retaining medicated oil on the head. Basti – Ayurvedic colonic irrigation. Tharpanam – therapy by retaining medicated oil on eyes. Marma –therapy for joints. Natural Facials, Mukhakanti, Ayurvedic Cosmetology and Facials.
Ayurveda recognises that the healthiest diet is different for each individual. An Ayurvedic expert will make dietary recommendations to restore or maintain balance in a person’s physiology. For example, sometimes these dietary recommendations will be for heavy foods for patients who are very Vata (Vata Dosha, derived from air and space), or for very light foods, hot foods, or cooling foods.
Ayurveda also recognises the importance of eating fresh foods which contain more life energy (Pranah). The foods from your environment nourish your bodily tissues. They nourish the bodily tissues in different ways and form the basis for Ayurvedic dietetics and herbology.