Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems.
More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential.
According to Ayurvedic theory, everything in the universe – living or not – is connected. Good health is achieved when your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe. A disruption of this harmony can lead to poor health and sickness.
The primary focus of Ayurvedic medicine is to promote good health, rather than fight disease. But treatments are recommended for specific health problems.
In the U.S., Ayurveda is considered a form of complementary and alternative medicine.
The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda are:
1.) The mind and the body are inextricably connected,
2.) Nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind.
For followers of Ayurveda, anything that affects your physical, spiritual, or emotional well-being can cause you to be out of balance with the universe. Some things that can cause a disruption include:
-Climate and seasonal changes
The characterization of Ayurveda being a physician’s art is first found in the Sanskrit epic- The Mahabharata. In it, eight different schools of study are defined-
–Kāyacikitsā: General medicine, medicine of the body
–Kaumāra-bhṛtya: The treatment of children, pediatrics
–Śhalyatantra: Surgical techniques and the extraction of foreign objects
–Śālākyatantra: Treatment of ailments affecting ears, eyes, nose, mouth, etc. (“ENT”)
–Bhūtavidyā: Pacification of possessing spirits, and the people whose minds are affected by such possession
–Rasāyanatantra: Rejuvenation and tonics for increasing lifespan, intellect, and strength
–Vājīkaraṇatantra: Aphrodisiacs and treatments for increasing the volume and viability of semen and sexual pleasure.
How your body works to keep you healthy and your unique physical and psychological characteristics combine to form your body’s constitution or Prakriti. Your Prakriti is believed to stay the same for your entire life. However, how you digest food and eliminate waste can influence it.
Freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body.
Here are a few Ayurvedic practices to strengthen your digestive fire:
-Always sit down to eat (don’t eat in front of your computer or TV or while you’re driving).
-Eat in a settled atmosphere and not when you’re upset.
-Don’t eat until you’re definitely hungry.
-Dine at a moderate pace. Don’t gulp down your food or eat too slowly.
-Minimize raw foods, which are much harder to digest than cooked ones.
-Include all six tastes at each meal.
-Drink hot water with ginger throughout the day.
-Practice some form of moderate exercise on a regular basis.
-Perform a daily oil massage with herbalized oil that balances your mind-body type.
-Spend time in the quiet of meditation every day.
-Use detoxifying herbs such as triphala, ashwagandha, guggulu, brahmi, ginger, turmeric and neem.
–Take it easy.