Natural medicine comes in many different forms around the world. Recently, we learned about the east Asian practice of reiki; today, we’re going south on the same continent to India, where a healing practice called “ayurveda” has existed for thousands of years. Read about it here, then decide if you’d like to join millions of people by using the principles of ayurveda in your own life. |
The Philosophy of Ayurveda
Directly translated, ayurveda means “science of life.” Unlike many health practices which focus only on the body, ayurveda is more about uniting and balancing body, mind, and spirit for harmony and healing.
The core beliefs of ayurveda have a connection to elemental mythology through the description of three “energies” that rule our inner thoughts and outer behaviour. The first is movement, which corresponds to the element of wind, known as Vata. According to the system, people with strong Vata are enthusiastic, capricious, light, and happy. The second is transformation, with the element of fire, known as Pitta. Those with dominant Pitta are driven, smart, intense, and passionate. Lastly, there is structure, with the element of earth, known as Kapha. People oriented toward Kapha are said to be calm, nurturing, and practical.
As a system of health and healing, ayurveda is focused on balancing all of these elements, because if any becomes too strong, it has negative effects on mental and physical health. For example, too much movement (or Vata) can lead to anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and trouble with attention and focus. Too much transformation (Pitta) causes irritability, anger, and stress. Too much structure (Kapha) translates to sluggishness, boredom, and depression. Each of these negative emotions can have serious implications for physical health.
How Ayurveda Can Benefit Your Health
Ultimately, whether you believe in the philosophy behind ayurveda or not, at its core, the philosophy is about developing and maintaining a healthy, balanced mind and body through holistic lifestyle changes.
You begin by identifying any parts of your personality that you feel might be out of balance: for example, if you have difficulty focusing, are frequently stressed, or feel sad and unfulfilled, that indicates an unbalance that must be addressed.
Next, you’ll begin to incorporate ayurveda’s lifestyle practices into your daily routine. This includes, among other things:
A proper hygiene regimen: skin care, bathing, teeth cleaning, etc. Daily exercise, including yoga. Meditation to calm the mind and body. Proper diet, specifically a “sattvic diet” that focuses on clean, natural, plant-based foods and dairy. Relaxation techniques like massage and aromatherapy. Various minerals, herbs, and spices prescribed by practitioners to treat emotional and physical ailments.
Most of these practices have been studied and verified to have positive benefits on human health, with the one exception that modern doctors don’t recommend replacing Western medical care with herbal treatments.
In the end, although ayurveda is more of a philosophy than a science, it all comes down to knowing yourself and taking charge of your physical and mental wellbeing. And that’s something that transcends location and culture.
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