Ayurveda is an ancient healing system that can improve your health and lifestyle. Ayurveda translates as the “science of life” coming from the Sanskrit words “ayu” meaning “life” and “veda” meaning science or knowledge. The knowledge of Ayurveda is over 5000 years old, making it the oldest healing system that is still practiced today.
If you have no prior knowledge about Ayurveda, it is easy to get overwhelmed by some of the information found in books on Ayurveda. Here is a brief introduction to Ayurveda, and some of the benefits of incorporating Ayurveda into your lifestyle.
The Origin and Proliferation of Ayurveda
Ayurvedic wisdom is believed to be of divine origin and was communicated to the sages of India through deep meditation. Ayurveda was part of a universal spiritual tradition that was passed down orally for generations. This tradition was written down in approximately 2500BC into sacred Sanskrit texts called the Vedas.
Around 1500BC Ayurveda was divided into two schools: the school of physicians and the school of surgeons. As a result, Ayurveda became easier to classify as a medical system and to verify scientifically. These two schools embody the eight branches of Ayurveda: General Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, Surgery, Toxicology, Rejuvenative therapy, and Aphrodisiacs/Fertility.
Ayurveda became a well respected healing system and spread throughout India. People from all over traveled to India to study Ayurvedic medicine and bring it back to their country. Ayurveda has influenced the traditional medical systems of Tibet, China, Japan, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Russia. Even thefFathers of Western Medicine practiced a system of medicine which borrowed from Ayurveda. Ayurveda has become known as the “Mother of all Healing.”
During the period of British Rule in India, Ayurveda went through a brief decline and Western medicine became the leading medicine taught in India. When India got independence in 1947 Ayurveda gained importance once again. This lead to the establishment of new Ayurvedic schools and hospitals as well as numerous herbal pharmaceutical companies.
In the 1970’s western countries began taking an interest in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic teachers from India started visiting Europe and the United States. Along with Yoga, Ayurvedic teachings helped to fuel the mind-body movement in the West.
The interest in holistic systems for health and healing has continued to increase and today there are reputable Ayurvedic colleges in many western countries. In India, Ayurvedic physicians have adapted to work alongside Western medicine as complementary health care becomes more regarded worldwide. Ayurvedic medicine continues to maintain its holistic approach while evolving to cope with modern needs and scientific advancements in medicine. Many scientific studies have been done on Ayurvedic treatments, confirming their effectiveness while providing a detailed understanding of how they work.
Ayurveda as a Holistic System of Medicine
Ayurveda views a person as a whole, rather than as individual parts. The Ayurvedic approach emphasizes the importance of the connection between body, mind, and spirit. Ayurveda balances these aspects assisting one to regain health. Prevention of illness and the promotion of longevity are also highly regarded, as Ayurveda is a system where the focus is on health rather than disease.
Ayurveda uses remedies that are all natural and treat the cause of a disease, rather than just the symptoms. All of the treatments used in Ayurvedic healing are free from harmful side effects.
Herbal remedies, diet, and massage therapy are primary methods of Ayurvedic healing. Aromatherapy, gemstones, colors, mantras, and lifestyle factors are also considered in regaining and maintaining health. Ayurvedic therapy includes a unique purification therapy called panchakarma which flushes out accumulated toxins, restores balance, and rejuvenates the entire being. Ayurvedic healing also incorporates yoga and spiritual practice as a means for maintaining harmony in life.
Benefits of Ayurveda
By gaining knowledge of Ayurveda a person begins to understand more about their individual nature and more about those around them. The balance of the three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) in each person varies, creating a unique constitution in every being. This individual constitution (prakriti) effects many factors; our attitude, emotions, memory, learning capacity, bodily structure, and which ailments we are more likely to develop when balance is not maintained.
By knowing your prakriti common ailments such as seasonal allergies, skin problems, digestive disorders, and obesity can more easily be resolved, and the side effects of aging can be lessened.
Ayurveda teaches us how to live in balance with nature; how to maintain health during a change of season or climate. Through Ayurveda we also learn how to lessen the stresses of different lifestyle factors and how to live better according to our needs. This all decreases the likelihood of developing disease.
Because Ayurveda treats to the root cause of an illness and works on balancing the entire being, it has shown great success in the treatment of severe medical conditions and chronic ailments.
Overall Ayurveda is an excellent system that provides health and longevity. You do not need to be an expert in Ayurveda to improve your health, some basic knowledge is enough to get started. Many Ayurvedic books teach introductory concepts in a way that makes it easy to for anyone to gain the knowledge they need to help themselves using this ancient system.
Photo: Gennadiy Poznyakov