The Science of Life
Ayurveda is an ancient medical science from India, which is now growing in popularity around the world Tim Price writes
Stillness, quiet, nature, the laughter of a child, can all lead to a discovery of truth within oneself. Death, emotional upset, relationship pressures and the stresses of work and family however can unbalance many people. Life is a delicate balance and as many people struggle to adjust to added pressures they are turning to new practices. One such practice is a 5, 000 year old tradition which has been used to rebalance the mind and body in a holistic way. Ayurveda, “the science of life” is growing in popularity and many are discovering its healing benefits across the globe. In Ayurveda all aspects of a persons health are addressed be it physical, spiritual or mental.
Alternative medicine has risen sharply around the world in recent years and Ayurveda is leading the charge. Many foreign scholars have visited India to pursue Ayurveda study.
Some have suggested Ayurveda was influential in the foundation of the science of modern European medicine. In ancient times Ayurveda was found to induce “kayakalpa.” Kayakalpa is the transformation of a diseased body to a young and vigorous one. Ayurveda was thought to help in maintaining youthful health. Today’s polluted environment and people’s inability to stick to a healthy regime has seen many drawn to its benefits. Its popularity is also garnered by its risk-free approach. Unlike many ill-advised approaches to holistic health Ayurveda does not generate any dangerous side effects. Ayurvedic colleges and research centers have opened across the US. Ayurveda medicinal remedies are now being housed in many of Australia’s health shops. Ayurvedic spas are also opening up around the country. Ayurvedic courses are proving popular. Ayurveda is now truly a global phenomenon.
Food, the Ayurvedic approach
An Ayurvedic approach to cooking is said to restore your body’s health levels. Ayurvedic cooking is traditionally vegetarian but can also be applied to meat. One of the main principles is to prepare, cook and eat your meal in a loving way. Organically grown foods are often used. Following Ayurveda’s way of thinking may also assist in weight loss and weight maintenance. Your approach however may differ to others depending on your “dosha”.
A dosha is a mind/body type, which we all inherit. There are 3 mind/body types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. All three exist within a person, but one will dominate and therefore determine your eating strategy. Foods relevant to each dosha are then eaten to prevent illness and promote health. Weight loss recommendations are made based on individuals doshas. The philosophy suggests any health imbalances, can be restored by maintaining a healthy diet, eating a variety of herbs and making lifestyle changes.
“A big part of Ayurveda is about eating what is right for your body type,” says Martha Harkey, Ph.D. Harkey is a certified Ayurvedic practitioner and consultant.
Amrit Devgun ND, practices both naturopathic and Ayurvedic medicine at Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Woodwind Natural Care. She believes Ayurvedic medicine can benefit those struggling with obesity. “Two people struggling with their weight could have two totally different recommendations based on Ayurveda,” says Devgun. “According to a person’s body type (dosha), that determines what type of exercise they should do and what time of day they should exercise.”
Susan George has always been interested in her own health and wellness so when her life became imbalanced, she turned to Ayurveda. George is now an Ayurvedic practitioner. “Knowledge means power in terms of our own health,” says George. “Many lack the knowledge of how to take care of themselves.” George conducts a two-hour consultation with clients to determine their health history and practices. She uses aromatherapy, color, herbs and massage oils in her Ayurvedic therapy.
Commercialisation of Ayurveda
Despite the widespread success of Ayurveda some have been using the holistic approach for disreputable monetary gain. Ayurveda’s mainstream success has resulted in the proliferation of many Ayurvedic centers offering Ayurvedic massages and therapies. Concerns have been raised about the dilution of treatments in an attempt to profit off the phenomenon.
“Even though this shows the growing popularity of Ayurveda, the attempt to dilute the system for purely commercial interests will do great harm to this stream of medicine,” says Dr U Indulal, Deputy Director, Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, Coimbatore.
Other Ayurveda specialists have suggested many centers do not have the required doctors, facilities, medicinal oils and qualified therapists. Some centers in India have even been raided for immoral activities.
Although Ayurveda’s success has resulted in some problems, its widespread acceptance has benefited many. Its comprehensive approach to health has put it at the forefront of alternative medicine. Looking at an individual’s entire life has assisted Ayurvedic medicine in positively affecting both physical and mental health.
Alternative medicine still remains strong around the world. Ayurveda is now a universal therapy. The ancient Indian healing system, has been around for 5, 000 years and its recent popularity suggests it will be used for thousands more.
Ayurveda & Digestion
Ayurveda has a straightforward answer for those suffering from indigestion. The food we eat is digested by Agni or body fire within ourselves. The three doshas; Vata, Pitta & Kapha help to digest the food we eat. When all the doshas are balanced an optimum environment is created for digestion. The belief is that if the agni digests all the food properly the body will be suitably nourished. This will lead to longevity, good health, vitality and a strong mind. If the agni does not properly digest the food it will cause a weakness in the body.
Agni can be imbalanced because of a number of factors. These include consuming spicy foods, milk products, smoking, drinking alcohol and taking medications such as antibiotics. Parasites, liver diseases and anxiety and stress can also unbalance your agni.
There are however remedies to increase agni. These include drinking warm water every 2 hours, eating boiled vegetables, and drinking lemon juice and ginger mixed with water. Abdominal massages can also be helpful. Following Ayurvedic principles will result in you consuming well-balanced food. This in itself will lead to well-balanced agni and a healthy body. The ayurvedic approach is a simple yet practical way to maintain good digestion.