Ayurveda (aye-yoor-VAY-deh) is a 5000-year-old natural medicine, teaching us how to live in harmony with our own nature (microcosm) and the world around us (macrocosm).
Ayurveda is a comprehensive health system, defining health as a balanced state of physical health, senses, mind, and spirit and using the tools of herbal medicines, foods, meditation, body treatments, yoga, and exercise.
Ayurveda ignites the body’s self-healing capacity by stoking the body’s digestive fire, increasing the body’s access to nutrition, enhancing its ability to assimilate nutrients, and releasing it of a burdensome toxic load. Practitioners offer practices to calm and strengthen the mind and regulate lifestyle choices to reflect the individual’s unique constitution.
Ayurveda is not a spa treatment; it is a widely practiced form of traditional medicine. Ayurvedic texts from thousands of years ago identify causes and treatments for various chronic and acute conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, infertility, and allergies.
Ayurveda is not a luxury item; it is one of the most utilized forms of medicine on the planet as recognized by the World Health Organization.
Ayurveda requires your participation. Lasting health is not the result of a monetary exchange for a bottle of herbs or a weekend retreat. Ayurvedic medicine is a partnership between the client and practitioner, knowledge and medicines; it will require active cooperation, participation and attention. Your Ayurvedic practitioner will counsel you about how to alter your food choices and lifestyle for optimum health; you are ultimately responsible for implementing these choices, with the support of your practitioner and community.
Ayurveda is based on a tri-dosha system, describing three elemental “building blocks” upon which the human body (and the larger cosmos) are based. These three doshas, or bioenergetic principles, are combinations of the Five Great Elements and associated elemental functions (motility, metabolism, and cohesion) and are responsible for both the anatomical structure and the physiological functioning of the body.
Everything in our inner and outer environment – food, lifestyle, thoughts, relationships, habits – are infused with these same characteristics. Our digestion is not separate from our anxiety is not separate from our sleeping patterns is not separate from our relationship to our jobs and our families. We are part of a natural living system, in which the subtle states of our thoughts affect the physical foundations for our tissues. Yet this should not be a reason for overwhelm; it merely shows how many doorways we may enter to embrace our own true, healthy self.
It is in understanding the nature of health that we come to understand the nature of disease: Ayurveda offers us a roadmap to living a healthy life, defined by its originators as a balanced state of physical functioning, metabolism, balanced state of mind, senses, and an exuberance and purpose.
What to Expect
Ayurvedic diet means Vegetarian diet
Nope, not true. In fact, medicines and suggested foods for certain disorders include meat as part of a medicinal diet. As with every food substance, different meats have specific qualities that affect the body and the mind. In this way, meat may be medicine to some and poison to others (and this may change depending on season, age, health condition, etc). Those practicing yogic lifestyles often choose a vegetarian diet as a part of a spiritually-focused, nonviolent lifestyle. In Ayurveda, the individual’s food preferences and history are respected.
Ayurvedic medicine has no side effects
Ayurvedic medicines are potent substances. They have specific and powerful effects on the mind and body. This much is true: when the correct medicine, properly administered, is given for a disorder then it has no adverse effects. Let’s define “side effects”: According to Ayurveda, if a medicine has an adverse effect (even if it addresses and solves the initial complaint) then it is not considered the correct medicine. For example, if an herb reduces swelling but creates heartburn, then it is not the correct medicine. That is why you will not see an Ayurvedic herb with a disclaimer noting potential side-effects, as we do with western pharmaceuticals. However, Ayurvedic medicines (as with any medicine or substance) used in a careless or ill-advised manner can create harm to the body.
Ayurveda is a Complementary Medicine
“Complementary Medicine” is a term coined by concerned western medical associations. Ayurveda is a fully comprehensive medical system, and is used as a primary medicine by many people in the world. In India, Ayurveda is combined with the best of Western medical techniques (including surgery and diagnostics), homeopathy, and other therapeutic and spiritual practices. The philosophies underlying the body/mind’s functioning, the root cause of illness, and the focus on the body’s immunity vs. the focus on the disease are some of the differences between eastern and western medicinal practices.
Ayurvedic treatments may include:
- recommendations around food and eating, including recipes and support with changing habits
- support for adjusting sleep/wake times
- identifying appropriate exercise: what/when/how much
- subtle practices, including yoga asana and pranayam (breathing exercises)
- instruction on self-massage and body therapies
- spiritual counseling
- herbal medicines
- practical stress reduction and meditation instruction
- teachings about digestion
It is my goal that you gather knowledge (not just information) during our time together, inspiring and enabling you to continually cultivate health and avoid states of disease.
If you have questions about how Ayurveda can help you specifically, please reach out to me.