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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What’s your Passion?

Last night I rediscovered “What’s your Passion?” from past blogs on an older website.  On the memorial date that changed the world’s events forever, and thus our lives, I felt it was appropriate to repost it.  Especially now as the spouse of an active duty Marine Corps Infantry Officer, I find this post more meaningful than when I first wrote it.   May you continue to find gratitude in all parts of your life including the stranger or person standing next to you.  Every-body is extraordinary with an extraordinary story.  

February 7, 2010 by Haunani Chong

About two weeks ago I was truly blessed to attend a reception sponsored by the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine with special guest Naomi Judd in San Diego, California.  The reception, titled  “Journey into Healing,” turned out to be spiritually uplifting and confirmed the path I’m walking on now and the path that lies before me.

Starting off as an inspirational speech, inviting doctors to consider the more subtle aspects of whole-being (like emotional and spiritual health), the reception turned into a night of promoting and advocating integrative health and wellness solutions for ALL, including our service men, women and veterans.

Towards the end of an hour-long, interactive, and surprising, funny speech, Miss Judd concluded by reading a letter from her lifelong friend.  Miss Judd’s friend was a mother who watched her son’s life change, transform, and eventually end because he chose to live his life’s purpose (dharma)—serving in our Country’s military.  This letter was brutally honest, heart wrenching and at the same time life-promoting.  What struck my heart-chords the most was the line, “Will my country ever learn to love the way he loved for our country?”  Tears filled my eyes.

For the past two weeks I’ve taken this same question personally.  Will I ever learn to love the way he loved for my country and me?  I am touched by this young gentleman’s selflessness.  He was willing to sacrifice it all for my freedom.  And yours.  My freedom to be here now writing this blog, to attend a post-graduate degree in Asian Medicine, to teach yoga and to have the ability to share my ideas and thoughts in public.  That’s love, unconditional love—to serve in a way that allows others to live their dreams.

So, what’s your love?

My love is humanity.  My love is you.  My love is medicine.  My calling is to serve all of humanity by improving medicine by integrating holistic mind-body solutions into clinics, hospitals and all lives, especially the military system.

Today, I ask you: what do you love so much that you’d be willing to sacrifice it all?

The First of Many

Breathe.  Connect.  Be. came to me a few months ago during a meditation.  So much for really stilling the mind, right?!  Haha.  That’s typically how my “meditations” go.  Nonetheless, here it is Breathe.  Connect.  Be.  A new blog dedicated to uplifting you to your highest potential through education, inspiration, humor, honesty and passion.

What you’ll find are articles, videos, photos, how to’s, and links on the topics of: Yoga, Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, holistic living, holistic health and wellness solutions for all ages, Feng Shui, Meditation, motivation, Integrated Medicine and real life experiences.

Who is Breathe.  Connect.  Be. for?  Primarily YOU!  It’s no coincidence you found this page, or this page found you-a matter of perspective or belief.  However, if you found something helpful, heartful, wise or just plane unbelievable or insane, PLEASE SHARE IT!  Add it to your Facebook, Twitter, blog, next group email or even as a gift to someone.

Specifically, you may have been drawn here for one of the following reasons because:

  • you feel a deep calling to change something in their life.
  • you are sick or have been diagnosed with a disease or illness and is looking for another option.
  • you are looking for a like-minded community or connection to others who also appreciate a holistic way of life.
  • you need a laugh…or a cry.
  • you are a yoga teacher and want to learn more.
  • you are an editor and want to republish something on this blog.
  • you are passionate about humanity.
  • you love life.
  • a friend recommended this blog site to you…you should read more and figure out why.
  • you need inspiration for your own blog, clinic or work.
  • you are searching…again, it’s no coincidence you found this blog.

Regardless of why you are here, my intention is to share my authentic self and experiences with you.

In a very influential time in my life I read a quote from Mohandas Gandhi which read “My life is my message.” My life changed forever.  From that day forward, I dedicated my life to uncovering, discovering, learning and living a life that was in alignment with what I valued in myself, others, the Earth and eventually the presence of something higher than myself.  I decided I wanted to live a life that served others and created positive, mindful and well-intentioned footprints on this World.  From a young 20 year old who thought she had it all as the Restaurant manager of a four-star fine dining restaurant, to the yogi who lived in the jungle, to the weak and out of balance shaved-head girl who preferred to sleep on the ground, to the strong and energetic business professional and now wife of a United States Marine Corps Infantry Officer, I’m living a life that is dedicated to respecting and loving each person as a WHOLE AMAZING BEING (body, mind and spirit) that is an integral, much needed and unique gift to this World. Each one of us is here with unique and varied paths and journeys.  It’s not for me to make everyone choose the path I did or even pretend I know what someone else’s path is.  What I have discovered along my own path are tools and little gems that have turned suffering into freedom, aggression into love and abuse into forgiveness.  To not share these gems and tools would be selfish.  Choosing a life of adventure, Truth, Soul searching, healing and radiance was, and is still, the best path I ever decided to take. Like the famous poem of Robert Frost proclaimed “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

May you always remember to Breathe.  Connect. and Be.

Aloha & Namaste,
Haunani