What is Ayurveda?

Airuuveeda? huh?

Let’s start at the beginning.   Say it with  me. “Eye-ru” “Vay-duh”…”eye-ru-vay-duh.”

Ayurveda is a word from the Sanskrit language of old India.   Ayur = Life   Veda = Science, Wisdom or The Way.  Therefore, Ayurveda is the Science of Life.  Its origins date back to 1000-700 B.C.E. and continues to be a tradition of professional practice, research and education world-wide.  In India, it is an inseparable part of the culture and daily living.

Today, the word and practice of yoga is more well known.  In fact, in Southern California where I currently live, yoga has become one of the hottest commodities and businesses.  Ayurveda on the other hand is still relatively unknown.  Traditionally, the practices of Ayurveda and Yoga were inseparable.  Inseparable because Ayurveda is considered to be Yoga’s sister-science.  They are complementary systems that address the whole person, body, mind and spirit towards wise living or how to live a long and healthy life.  The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda informs us of daily health and wellness practices that, like yoga, also relieves the mind and body from attachments, unhealthy desires, habits, stagnation or poor health.

Ayurveda honors you as a whole, unique person (body, mind and spirit) who is deeply connected to nature.  Nature expresses itself slightly differently in each person, thereby creating diversity and individuality of physique, personality and even how you respond to stress.  By determining your particular “constitution,” or prakriti, a well-trained practitioner of Ayurveda can offer specific lifestyle solutions (exercise, yoga poses, stretches, activities, daily routines), dietary recommendations, herbal remedies, breathing exercises, aromatherapy and mantras (or sacred sounds).  In the past, and in most parts of India that I traveled to in 2007, Ayurveda and Yoga are practiced together.  They are practiced together to help bring the whole-body into health, balance and inner peace by reducing suffering, pain and relieving physical and energetic stagnation.  Traditionally, a person would spend years practicing and living a lifestyle as prescribed by a Doctor of Ayurvedic before he/she would begin their path of yoga.

One of the most fascinating things I learned during my formal studies of Ayurveda through the Kerala Ayurveda Academy was how detailed, developed and in-depth Ayurveda medicine is in its original form.  While most Ayurveda, as practiced primarily  in the United States are day-to-day activities and choices each one of us can do, Ayurveda is a whole and complete medical system developed in what is now India by the most enlightened physicians and surgeons.  In its entirety, Ayurveda has eight departments of medicine including:  Internal Medicine, Surgery, Ear, Nose, Eyes and Throat Diseases, Pediatrics, Toxicology, Psychiatry, Science of Rejuvenation and Science of Aphrodisiacs (fertility).  Did you know the first records of plastic surgery, particularly rhinoplasy, come from ancient Ayurveda medical texts dating back to 600 B.C.E.?  Rhinoplasty was used to reconstruct noses damaged in battle.

Like I mentioned earlier, despite its age, Ayurveda is practiced around the world today.  In the United States, Ayurveda is not a licensed practice (at least not yet), so most trained practitioners use Ayurveda in combination with other licenses such as Physical Therapy, Western Biomedicine, Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Chiropractic Medicine or Massage Therapy.  A few trained in Ayurveda use their certification to start a small business as a health coach or in combination with teaching yoga.  For me, I use Ayurveda with all my clients in-person and long distance via Skype or Google+.

Who is Ayurveda for?  Individuals and families who appreciate being acknowledged as a whole person (not their disease) should consider Ayurveda.  It offers natural ways of treating dis-ease and focuses on promoting health by helping you determine foods, drinks, exercises and other lifestyle solutions that will help you at the root-level of health and well-being.  More importantly for modern times, it is complementary to most western medical treatments.  Herbal remedies should be carefully analyzed for potentially dangerous drug-herb interactions by a qualified licensed healthcare provider.  Because Ayurveda focuses on empowering you to take responsibility for your own well-being, most people find after they integrate individual recommendations they begin to have fewer health issues overall and have more energy for the parts of life they enjoy.

Others who might benefit from Ayurveda include:

  • Parents of children who have chronic health conditions
  • Individuals with chronic health conditions that are not improving under other medical care
  • Individuals who understand the importance of PREVENTION
  • Yoga instructors and other holistic health care practitioners

References:

Textbook of Ayurvedic Medicine. Published by Kerala Ayurveda Academy.  2009.

Frawley, David.  Yoga & Ayurveda, Self-Healing and Self-Realization. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 1999. Print.

Svoboda, Robert E. Prakruti, Your Ayurvedic Constitution.  Albuquerque: Geocom Limited, 1989.  Print.

Tiwari, Maya.  Ayurveda, A Life of Balance.  Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 1995.  Print.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This is a reference work.  It is not meant for diagnosis or treatment and it is not substitute for consultation with a licensed health care professional.

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