Updated: Jul 4
Ayurveda is an ancient system of holistic healing from India. It is believed to be the oldest system of healing on the planet. Ayur means life and Veda means knowledge. Sometimes referred to as the "Science of Life", Ayurveda is a medical science that unites the body, mind, and spirit in its approach. Though Ayurveda is widely practiced in some way throughout India and Nepal, it has only been explored in Western culture since the middle of the twentieth century. As more and more Americans are looking towards natural healthcare to promote and maintain healthy lifestyles, Ayurveda should be considered as one possible solution to our health crisis in the United States.
Many people view allopathic medicine, or "Western medicine" as a pharmacological approach to healthcare. Here in the West, we tend to treat symptoms of disease in a highly specialized way. For example, when you suffer with muscular pain, you may visit an orthopedic doctor or a rheumatologist or even a pain management facility, and be prescribed drugs specifically for pain. But when you take the Ayurvedic approach, you might talk to your Ayurvedic health practitioner about your gut health and stress levels and be asked to change your behaviors and routines to manage your pain. Followers of ayurveda believe in an integrative, holistic approach to healthcare.
In truth, there are benefits to both systems and both should be integrated and utilized appropriately. Western medicine has excellent diagnostic tools and can treat acute situations much faster than Ayurveda; however, an Ayurvedic lifestyle will improve your chances of living a long and healthy life free from chronic illnesses. Even allopathic medicine now sees the value in prevention for all conditions.
Ayurveda = Balance
Connecting to ourselves and the laws of nature makes us happy. Crucial elements of this connection are diet and nutrition, behaviors, our environment, and what's going on in our mind. When we live in tune with the cycles of nature, we tend to be more healthy. The root of all good things in life is being healthy. Our health should come first, but so often, our health comes last.
When we focus on our jobs --or even our families-- first, we tend to fall out of balance with our innermost self. It is not being selfish to take care of one's self. I am sure you have heard the saying, "You cannot serve from an empty vessel." Your vessel - which is a combination of your mind, body, and spirit - contains an inner intelligence that knows how to keep you healthy. When we are in tune with that inner intelligence, we will know when something is out of balance and address it right away, before we need a doctor. This is the beauty of Ayurveda.
According to the ancient Ayurvedic texts, the definition of a healthy individual is: "One whose doshas are balanced, whose digestive fire is balanced, whose bodily tissues and elimination processes are functioning normally. and whose senses, mind, and Self are filled with bliss."
How to Start
There are many things you can do to start living the Ayurveda way. Ayurveda is not limited by culture, geography, or ethnicity. It is open to all people everywhere! However, it is an individualized system. Many qualities of your own physiology must be considered before diving into a plan of action for a specific illness or disorder. It is not recommended that you start taking herbs without first consulting with your Ayurvedic health coach and your primary care physician.
Unlike Western healthcare though, where medicine is the often the first recommendation for illness, with Ayurveda, herbal remedies are the last line of defense. We prefer to start with removing causative factors and introducing positive behaviors that tend to work for everyone!
Eat warm, well cooked and freshly prepared meals as often as possible.
Avoid large amounts of raw foods. This includes salad!
Avoid processed packaged foods.
Eat with awareness. Some call this practicing mindful eating.
Always sit to eat.
Eat in a quiet, settled environment.
Sit for at least 5 minutes after eating. This dishes can wait!
Lunch should be the main meal of your day.
Breakfast and dinner should be lighter in both quality and quantity.
Sip warm water throughout the day.
Consider a consultation with an Ayurvedic health coach to learn your dominant dosha, as well as your areas of imbalance and what to do about them. I will be teaching a workshop on this very topic every month online. Register here! You can also contact me directly to schedule your first consultation or with any questions you may have regarding the consultation process at email@example.com Follow this blog for more information about Ayurveda!