Āyurveda is India’s ancient art and science of harmonious living which has a history of thousands of years and is still a living and vibrant tradition to this day. “Āyur”, meaning life and “Veda” meaning deep knowledge, Āyurveda is the wisdom of how to live a healthy and balanced life, which is said to be one in accord with natural law.To find balance we must first understand our unique and individual nature.
According to Āyurveda each person is comprised of three fundamental energies (Tridoṣa) called Vāta, Pitta and Kapha. Every person has their own individualized blend of these basic energies from birth and this is our “constitution”.If we understand our innate nature then we have a better chance of organizing our routines, diet, practices, work and lifestyle in a way which allows us to find our way back to the balance that is our unique fundamental nature.
We are constantly interacting with an ever changing world and our body/mind is constantly shifting. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a method for understanding these shifts and to have techniques for re-aligning ourselves daily, seasonally or throughout a lifetime?
Holistic Mind/Body Medicine
Āyurveda offers a truly holistic mind/body/spirit medicine that aims at treating the person and not just the disease. This is natural medicine accessible to all and is not just for the practitioner. It’s fundamental structure is inherently preventative, as anyone who gains even a basic understanding of its’ concepts is empowered and impelled to improve the quality of their health and lives immediately.
Āyurveda teaches us that we can recognize imbalance before it becomes manifest into full blown disease, or if it has, how we can manage it through various healing modalities in a way that will help our body best avoid it again in the future.
Āyurveda has multiple healing modalities: herbology, diet, lifestyle/routine, Paṅca Karma (5 cleansing techniques), massage, Marma point therapy, as well as employing yoga, mantra and meditation. These can be employed singly , but usually used together, to gain the desired outcome of prevention and cure.
Classically Āyurveda has eight limbs: internal medicine, surgery, ear/nose/throat, ophthalmology, toxicology, pediatrics, rejuvenation techniques, virility/aphrodisiacs and psychiatry. It should be noted that the scope of Āyurveda historically is very broad and covered all the medicinal needs of a culture that was unquestionably at the forefront of advancement in science and technology ages before the advent of western science and medicine.
Its origins lie in the Veda itself (Atharva and Ṛg Veda), being an Upa-Veda it is seen as an integral part of the fundamental core of knowledge and methods for attainment of a healthy individual/society and the discovery of Self. After all, without the body where would we be? Without a healthy and balanced body/mind how can expect to live a harmonious life and ultimately discover our true nature?
Āyurveda has been indispensable for all spiritual seekers and householders alike, as no one is immune to the unfolding of Karma and the inevitability of aging. Yogis have known this for centuries and have relied on Āyurveda to sustain themselves while remaining devoted to their goal of Yoga.
Yoga and Āyurveda
Yoga and Āyurveda are sister sciences and have always been used simultaneously for inner and outer alignment. It is an open secret that anyone who endeavors the one must have at least a basic understanding of the other for optimal attainment.
Alignment has become a much used word these days as Yoga has come to the west in the form of āsana. While Yoga is a grand philosophical system designed for the realization of Self, its more popular mode of practice in the west has in many cases a primary focus on the alignment of the physical aspects of self and the physical benefits of Yoga, which are indeed many.
That being said, Āyurveda then becomes even more important for the western practitioner of Yoga as a supportive means for obtaining physical alignment and hopefully also finding their way to true inner alignment as set out by Patañjali.
As Yoga helps the seeker find inner peace and wisdom, Āyurveda can be used as the means to hold the body in balance, strengthen the tissues and also keep the ligaments and joints healthy and free for better movement.
As Yoga is a journey on a path that that can be at times arduous and taxing on the body, Āyurveda can keep you feeling and looking younger and more energetic and balanced.