AYURVEDA. You may have seen this phrase or word floating around the internet or heard your favorite yoga teacher speak drop some knowledge about a DOSHA or saying the words VATA or PITTA in class. If you’ve been looking around and thinking to yourself, “what in the hell is that teacher saying?”, or even if you know some basics about Ayurveda, today we are going to float on the very surface of this immense and lifelong study of Ayurveda, and hopefully get a few questions answered or at least open a door to a new system of health for you.
What is Ayurveda?
Modern medicine evolved and grew from various schools of practice and philosophy. Across history and geography, medical systems exist which have informed the current day practices and procedures which we use to diagnose and heal ourselves. Ayurveda is a medical system that originated and evolved in India, and whose roots began with the Atharva Veda, an ancient text which described some diseases and treatments for those diseases. Ayurveda has evolved and survived from somewhere around the turn of BCE to CE to the present day. That's pretty incredible. The practices and treatments are widely still used in the same ways that have been practiced for thousands of years, although there have been many scholars and doctors who have brought Ayurveda into the modern life and world.
Ayurveda may also be described as the sister science to yoga, or the science of healing the body through food. Essentially, Ayurveda can be seen a complex and multidimensional school of medicine that can be used in both simple, basic ways as well as adopted and used as a complete and full system of health, medicine, and lifestyle.
How do I pronounce it?
Ayurveda = Eye-yur-Vay-Duh
Why do we use Ayurveda?
So, let’s be honest here… and this might be hard to say. No one system is perfect. There… I said it. Phew! So, that means that when we have different areas of doubt or need another opinion or perspective to a problem, it is helpful to have other common, yet different practice or philosophy or modality or guru or school or religion or spirituality. This is how we basically form all of our opinions and belief systems throughout our lives. Some of us might prescribe or be more devote to a certain system, but that doesn’t mean that we use other things even such as personal experience, advice from peers, as well as the aforementioned choices.
What I am saying is this. We use Ayurveda as another way to assess, observe, and guide us throughout our lives to improve our quality of life as well as teach our clients how to improve where it is that they might be seeking help. This is in addition to Yoga, personal life experiences, formal education, Western medicine, chakras, personal belief systems, lifestyle choices, and more.
How do we use Ayurveda?
In Yoga Therapy, Prerna and I use basic ayurvedic principles to better tailor a practice for your needs. This is in alignment with the IAYT Scope of Practice for Yoga Therapy, and we only lightly touch on the subject with clients. We are not trained Ayurvedic Doctors, so we do not diagnose or give any sort of treatment for conditions and symptoms. Rather, we use our education and personal experience, as well as the advice of our mentors, to simply adjust your practice for a particular season, common condition, or lifestyle need.
Resources and Further Reading:
Dr. Vasant Lad:
The Science of Self Healing
Dr. David Frawley:
Yoga and Ayurveda
We will post more recommendations for reading with future posts! There are so many books to discuss with you all. Also, that deity you saw at the beginning of the post? That's Lord Dhanvantari, the Hindu god of medicine. There are chants, texts, and more that you can read about him, too.