Ayurveda, what’s that?

imageA back to basics post but a much needed one. With all the enthusiasm I have for Ayurveda it is still sometimes problematic for me to explain clearly and simply to newcomers what Ayurveda is, and this of course has to do with just how vast the wisdom of Ayurveda really is and the scope of its teachings.

Ayurveda is the ancient Indian medical science. In Sanskrit its root meaning is in fact “the science of life”. It is the oldest traditional system of mind-body medicine in the world. However it is still so successfully practical in its approach to both preventive health and healing that it has not lost its actuality and is more than ever accurate – if you know and are willing to apply its simple strategies. Ayurveda is much less about the absence of disease and much more a lifestyle.

As a holistic health-care programme Ayurveda focuses on the individual as a whole, an intelligent microcosm in itself. At its core Ayurveda expresses that our mind-body systems already contain all the intelligence they need to heal themselves if we live by the rules of nature. You could also say in The Flow.

The efficacy of Ayurveda comes in recognising that we are all “the same but different”. We are all made from the same 5 elements: ether, air, water, fire and earth; however we are not made in equal measures. An individual (or any organism) will contain more or less of one or the other element which will then form its constitution (Dosha in Sanskrit). This means that we each have a particular internal balance which in turn explains why, though we go through the same life experiences and are affected by the same “dis-eases”, we react in different ways. In Ayurveda this leads to the obvious conclusion that no two people should receive the same treatment before previously assessing what their particular mind-body type is and ensuring an appropriate response for them individually. Knowledge of the individual, not just the illness, is key.

And so Ayurveda has devised a number of diagnostic tools and an extensive analysis of our mind-body systems to help us understand ourselves and amusingly (for the geek in me) the practical routines it suggests for bringing back health are usually very simple in comparison.

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