Most people in the Western world have never heard of Ayurveda. But that is slowly changing as more and more of its practitioners spread the word about this most ancient healing and preventative health care practice.
The Roots of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is likely the world’s oldest healing and preventative health care practice, with roots at least as far back as 5,000 years ago in India.
Ayurveda starts with the five basic elements in the universe: air, fire, water, earth and ether. Since we are all made up of these elements, we are in essence one with the universe. It’s important to understand how they function, because it’s also a reflection of how we are meant to function.
Each of the five elements are grouped in different ways in three essential governing principles called “doshas.” Ayurveda focuses on balancing the body, mind and spirit and attuning oneself with nature. This is achieved by addressing potential imbalances in the doshas:
Vata relates to the elements of air and ether. Vata is the bioenergy that is the catalyst for all bodily functions related to motion. It’s the force behind our heart beat, blood circulation, breathing and eliminating process. A balanced vata leads to creativity and vitality. When it is out of balance, there is fear and anxiety.
Pitta is the energy that pertains to fire and water, and thus controls our bodies’ metabolism, which is not just about calorie burning, but how we absorb and digest nutrients. When pitta is balanced, a person has plenty of energy, a healthy appetite and digestion. When not in balance, it can lead to anger and being argumentative.
Kapha represents water and earth and is related to the body’s structure. It promotes our physical growth, creation of new cells, and provides the fluid necessary to lubricate the joints and skin. Kapha also maintain our immune health and healing wounds. In balance, we are loving and forgiving. When our kapha is not balanced, there is a tendency towards envy and feeling insecure.
When treating health issues through Ayurveda, the focus is not on the condition itself, but the person as a whole. That means looking at your emotional and physical state, what stressors are present in your life, and identifying the ideal dosha balance for you.
While each dosha is present in everyone, which ones are more pronounced varies in each person. This gives us our own unique physical and psychological traits.
When a dosha is imbalanced, it can manifest itself as a disease. Once you know where your imbalances reside, they can be addressed through dietary changes and anti-stress activities. There are also environmental factors that may come into play, such as the weather and interpersonal relationships.
Starting a meditation and/or yoga routine can have a profound impact on our physical and emotional well-being. Studies have shown not only a calming benefit, but may help with conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, pain and asthma.
Herbs also play an important role in Ayurvedic medicine. The following are just a few and can be found in our potent Ayurvedic Formula:
- ¬†Ginger is an Ayurvedic herb familiar to Americans, partly due to its well known digestive health properties. It may also fight acute or chronic inflammation.
- Ashwagandha is sometimes referred to as “Indian ginseng” due to its rejuvenating properties. It has been shown to protect the immune system, reduce anxiety and inflammation, stabilize blood sugar, and lower cholesterol.
- The extract from the boswellia tree has been shown to treat inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, asthma and ulcerative colitis.
- Studies suggest curcumin (found in turmeric) reduces inflammation, including the easing of symptoms related to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
While Ayurvedic medicine may be new to many people in the U.S., the basic principles and goals are very easy¬†for everyone to relate to: finding ways to balance our lives, reduce stress, and look at our overall health in a preventative and protective way.