The word Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words ayus (life) and veda (knowledge) that translates to “science of life”. In Hindu mythology, the origin of Ayuverdic medicine is attributed to Dhanvantari – the physician to the gods.
Ayurveda is a holistic healthcare system that focuses on diet, detoxification, yoga and mental health while establishing a balance in the following 3-energy elements (doshas) present in every person:
Vata – controls motion, circulation, breathing and vitality. An imbalance of vata can cause fear and anxiety
Pitta – controls the internal metabolic systems including digestion, nutrition and temperature. An imbalance to pitta can cause emotional outbursts and digestive problems
Kapha – maintains the physical structures (muscular and skeletal), stability and water/fluid balance. An imbalance of kapha may lead to insecurity and envy
The main aim of Ayurvedic treatment is to prevent illness in the mind and body by treating doshas that have been thrown off balance by stress, diet, emotional strains and other external factors. Any disturbance to your doshas result in illness or discomfort in that particular dosha such as insomnia, fatigue, psoriasis, dry skin, lack of concentration, headaches, back pain, arthritis and circulation problems.
There are two main types of Ayurveda – the traditional and Maharishi. Both types choose from more than 20 treatments available, including herbs, diet and massage in order to restore balance, but Maharishi also emphasizes on the role of consciousness in maintaining good health. Some of the more common Ayurvedic treatments include:
- Pranayama – breathing techniques to reduce stress and anxiety
- Abhyanga – massaging the skin with herbal oils to increase blood circulation and rub away toxins
- Rasayana – use of mantras during meditation to increase focus and reduce distraction
- Yoga – to improve flexibility, mobility, circulation, reduce blood pressure, anxiety and pain
- Pancha karma – detoxification and cleansing. This purifying process ranges from mild (cause bowel movements to detox) to strong (vomiting)
- Herbs – restoring balance through the humble herb.
Ayurvedic practitioners also highly recommend self-massaging (Abhyanga) to give your body and mind an instant boost (stimulate organs, promote mental alertness and calm the nerves) as well as to increase longevity.
One amazing way to treat your body is through an Indian head-massage that not only alleviates stress and tension, but also stimulates hair growth and improves concentration. Choose an oil to counter your dosha imbalance, for example:
- Balance vata with ginger, cardamom or orange;
- Balance pitta with cool, sweet scents of sandalwood, lavender or coconut;
- Balance kaphas with eucalyptus, rosemary or sage.
Massage a couple of drops of the oil over your head and gently rub the “third eye” between your eyebrows in clockwise circular motions. If you are feeling a little groggy stimulate the energy channels between your heart and head by gently adding pressure to your temples with the flat sides of two to four of your fingers (do not push or point your fingertips into your temples!).
A couple of other home-friendly Ayurveda techniques for the morning include activating your digestive system with a lukewarm glass of water with a twist of lemon (this sets your digestive track on the right path for the rest of the day) and splashing your face seven times with cool water. The splashing dispels remaining pitta energy from the previous day and the number seven is auspicious as it represents the seven chakras of the body.
We will be sharing some key Ayurvedic recipes and ingredients for you to add to your weekly shopping list, so check in to FinerMinds on Sunday to see how you can incorporate Ayurvedic principles into your diet and eat yourself to better health!
P.S. Do you practice yoga? Are you struggling to build a yoga practice that you can stick to?
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