What is Ayurveda?
Updated: Sep 22, 2019
Ayurveda crept into my life slowly, whilst on my search for healing, health and wellbeing. My journey was influenced by the most advertised and talked about trends of the times, as it is for many of us.
Beginning in my teens, unfortunately influenced by my peers and “the experts”, I attached myself to the concept of a “recommended daily allowance” (read: counting calories and food groups), and weighing-in each week, to see if I had gained or lost pounds. I allowed that number to define me and how I felt about myself. Today, thirty years later I still have to consciously work at breaking that destructive mindset.
It was in my practice of Kundalini Yoga that Ayurveda began to surface. Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga, and it touched me gently and revealed itself slowly. The beauty of Ayurveda is that you learn through experiencing it.
As I recall my formative experiences with Ayurveda, I remember a series of natural herbal supplements prescribed to me by an Ayurvedic Practitioner in San Diego, who had a strong reputation in the Kundalini Yoga community. He had acquired a primary source of quality herbal formulas from India and the series he scripted held me through my two pregnancies, breastfeeding and the first five years of motherhood. I also consulted with him as to general ailments through the same period, and I overwhelming always felt better and more supported by Ayurvedic herbs than western medicines.
Later in Washington DC, the yoga studio where I practiced, initiated an introductory course to Ayurveda. A friend and I signed up. It outlined aspects of Ayurveda that I hadn’t even been aware of before and clarified the parts for me that were not clear. It sparked a great interest and a thirst to understand more.
I completed a Masters in Ayurvedic Digestion and Nutrition in 2017. What I learnt has changed my life forever and for the better. My love and respect for Ayurveda only feeds my thirst for further knowledge and understanding.
Now, as a practitioner, I feel strongly about taking on the role as teacher and guide, supporting students and clients through their own experiences and journey of Ayurveda. My goal is to educate clients, ensuring a clear understanding of their constitution, and sharing with them Ayurvedas' clear philosophy for a balanced and healthy life - that no matter where you are in your journey, it is always full of potential. Ultimately, the result is placing the responsibility of the client’s health and well-being back into their own hands, so they can become their own healer.
Ayurveda is directly translated as ‘the meaning or knowledge of life and longevity”. It is an ancient Indian holistic system of medicine which focuses on keeping the mind, body and soul, balanced and healthy. It provides an integrated approach to preventing and treating illness, to which Ayurvedic theory states that all disease begins with an imbalance or stress in the individual's consciousness.
Of course, our digestive system plays a huge role in our health. Our ability to digest, break down and absorb nutrients, in turn feeds, nourishes and fuels our body to function at its optimum. How we digest our experiences and emotions also affects our health too.
Ayurveda defines our personal constitution in the form of Doshas (or energy). The three characteristic Doshas represent as a combination of the five elements (air, fire, water, earth and ether), which Ayurveda believes are the components that make up the universe. As we are a part of the universe, these elements manifest in humans as combinations of the three Doshas: Vata (space and air), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth).
What I love most about Ayurveda is that it has a personalised approach to health, treating each person as a unique individual. The reality of knowing your own mind-body-type allows you to make optimal choices about diet, exercise, supplements, as well as the other considerations for your lifestyle.
‘One man’s medicine is another man’s poison’. What works for you may not work for others. And here’s a simple example: If you sit down to a healthy bowl of fresh organic salad, you may think that you have made a healthy choice and that your body will benefit from all the nutrients found in the fresh vegetables on your plate. But, and here’s the really big BUT - the education that we are not typically exposed to: If your digestion is weak and unable to break down and absorb the nutrients of this meal, it can sit in your gut for hours, fermenting in the process, creating toxins that then are absorbed into your system, having a detrimental effect on your wellbeing.
I was fascinated to truly see how the delicate balance between mind, body and soul effects our health. It became very clear to me during my training, that even though I was eating healthily, exercising, as well as meditating and practicing yoga, that there were still deep seated undigested and unresolved emotions and thought processes that were affecting my health, constitutional balance and overall well-being.
Understanding who you truly are, what your constitution is, how you digest your foods and emotions, what your strengths and weaknesses are, what forms of exercise, what belief system you have, all within an ever-changing shift in energies, environments and seasons - this is the beauty of Ayurveda. Finding your balance amidst it all, allows you to live your life to its fullest potential.