Ayurveda is the traditional medical lifestyle system derived from India. It is translated from Sanskrit as ‘science of life' and encompasses a set of values as to ‘how to live wisely', and according to individual constitutional make up.
Ayurveda is a complete medical system dealing with all aspects of health.
It covers physical health, mental balance, spiritual wellbeing, social welfare, environmental considerations, dietary and lifestyle habits, daily living trends, as well as treating and managing specific diseases.
It teaches respect for nature, appreciation of life and the means to empower the individual. It understands that our individual health cannot be considered separately from our family, work, society and/or planet's health.
A spiritual and practical blend
Ayurveda is is a blend of herbal medicine, massage, dietetics, spiritual insight, practical experience, scientific analysis and artistic creativity.
It uses medicinal plants, foods, massage, meditation, yoga, surgery and judicious living as part of its ‘lifestyle' blueprint and methodology.
In the UK, most Ayurveda is practiced by trained Ayurvedic practitioners. They treat the whole range of ailments and acute conditions that any GP will encounter but the Ayurvedic practitioner will use a therapeutic diet and medicinal plants, rather than synthetic pharmaceuticals, as the core of their practice.
They will create a synergistic treatment that will include ‘you', the person, as well as ‘it', the disease. However, Ayurvedic practitioners will frequently work alongside a client's conventional GP.
The three doshas
As mentioned, Ayurveda is about ‘how to live according to your unique and individual constitutional make up', which involves the three constitutions (or ‘dosha'); vata, pitta and kapha. They are the qualities in the body that make us all so different.
Vata is connected with the elements of wind and space. It regulates movement and communication and relates to the nervous system. If your vata is out of balance you may suffer from insomnia, indigestion, constipation, painful periods, scanty periods or infertility.
Pitta is connected with fire and water. It regulates heat and digestion and relates to metabolism and hormone production. If pitta is out of balance you may have heartburn, high blood pressure, skin rashes, hot flushes and be easily irritable.
Kapha is connected with earth and water. It is responsible for stability and moisture and relates to the structure of the body.
If kapha is out of balance you may be holding too much weight, have a heart problem, diabetes or high cholesterol.
The Ayurvedic way of living prescribes a routine for all the climates and geographical regions of the world. It offers particular insights for men and women, children and adults through all stages of life, focusing on the uniqueness of each individual - personal medicine at its best.
Ayurveda and Yoga
Ayurveda and Yoga are both flourishing traditions that have spread from their Indian origins around the world. They are as relevant for living today as they have always been as their goals are just what we all need more of; spiritual insight, deeper wisdom and stronger health.
Ayurveda and yoga are both examples of the wonderful Indian trait of absorbing everything around them. Furthermore, they have adopted aspects of each other's tradition, adding to and complementing each other.
Today, many modern Ayurveda centres and teachers have started to include yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditations as part of their approach for reaching optimum physical and mental health.
They are the perfect pair for enhancing our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
Sebastian Pole is an Ayurvedic practitioner and herbal director of Pukka Herbs which offers 100% organic Ayurvedic remedies and teas, produced to high ethical standards. See www.pukkaherbs.com. For information on Sebastian's clinic go to www.herbalayurveda.com.
The first image shows Sebastian caring for some herbs.