Ayurveda is the traditional medical system from India and the oldest recorded medicine in the world. Yet Ayurveda is pragmatic, so we can rely on its wisdom to support our health today. You’ll notice profound positive health results from adopting some key Ayurvedic daily habits. Experience it yourself – for three days eat a light dinner around 6 pm and sleep by 10pm to feel symptoms of illness shifting.
The principles of Ayurveda captured me while I was living in Asia over 25 years ago with my children. The women around me were using Chinese, Indian and Indonesian home remedies in a timely and seasonal way. I observed how wholesome food and the right daily habits can heal us because they’re part of the same natural energy and properties that our bodies are made of. Living overseas in the 1980s it was a revelation to see kitchen pharmacy in action and I was delighted because this was something I always knew was possible. Ayurveda goes beyond the cell theory of conventional medicine and looks at the elements and creation theory. Nowadays we widely understand how important gut health, plant based eating and intermittent fasting are. Ayurveda has known this for over 5000 years!
The inherent wisdom of Ayurveda
You already know what food makes you feel good and when you choose to eat that way you’re living according to Ayurvedic principles – a lot of it is common sense, and we’ve just forgotten! Even our grandmothers knew that cooking the roast lamb with rosemary was a good thing. It turns out it doesn’t just taste good but the rosemary is a powerful antioxidant and helps the meat proteins be digested. You know that heavy feeling you get after drinking a big cold smoothie, especially if you ate food with it? Ayurveda understands that comes from a dampened digestive fire (Agni), which affects the action of the enzymes and results in Ama, toxic residue of undigested food. Accumulation of Ama in our body tissues is what causes disease. I recommend everyone learn some basic Ayurveda to understand what’s going on behind the scenes in their bodies and how to help themselves.
Ayurveda is a holistic health field, very similar to Naturopathy. It’s practiced in India by herbalists, in Ayurvedic hospitals and clinics. It’s a complete medical system with branches in midwifery, surgery, psychology and more. Yet it’s so practical that we can utilize it in our homes every day to prevent illness and bring relief and often cure uncomfortable symptoms of disease. Yoga is Ayurveda’s sister science. They complement each other to cover the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of being well in order to reach Bliss.
Like increases like.
According to Ayurvedic principles our bodies are made up of the five elements of nature: space, air, fire, water, earth. The food you eat becomes your body because it’s also made up of the natural elements. When the five elements are within your body, or that of a plant or animal, they form what the ancient sages of India called Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are Sanskrit terms created so we can make sense of the wondrous science. You’ll gain more practical understanding and know what food choices to make by applying the energetics (Gunas). If your skin is dry like space and air element then you know not to eat dry crackers that day. And if your temper is firing one day then spicy food will make you feel worse. Equally, if it’s raining outside and you feel lethargic then a banana won’t help. Reduce the quality that you have an excess of.
Give your digestion a break! Agni needs the right fuel to nourish you.
Ayurveda is all about understanding the laws of nature. You’re a natural being who is part of the cycle of the seasons and the sun and moon so you’re bound to be affected by their changes. Have you ever noticed that during Spring most people experience allergies or excessive mucous? There’s scientific reasoning behind why this happens. We have a choice to go and see an Ayurvedic lifestyle consultant for dietary and lifestyle advice, or an Ayurvedic General Practitioner who can prescribe herbal remedies as well as nutritional and activity based recommendations. One of the best ways Ayurveda can help you live healthy and happy in your body is for you to learn the basic principles then apply them to your bio-individuality so you can make health supporting choices every day. I left clinic practice and created AyurBotanicals to reach more people and empower them to come away from the generalization of constitution labelling (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) that locks us in to following a food list on the fridge and likely abandoning it after two weeks! Learning Ayurveda means discovering how best to take care of ourselves, what exercise suits us, what foods serve us well as a unique individual.
As Goethe said “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live”. He went on to say that once you commit, the entire universe conspires to assist you. This is what it feels like to live according to the very Nature we are created from and an integral part of. Live this way and enjoy abundant energy and a feeling of happiness in connection.
It is irrelevant whether we’re eating Indian food or not, whether we live in a modern world or not. The principles of healthy living have not changed. The details are ours to design according to our individual constitution (Prakruti), digestive strength (Agni), age, preferences, and the season.
Lesley O'Brien - Registered Ayurvedic Medicine Practitioner: Herbal medicine, Nutrition, Massage therapy.
Connect with Lesley at AyurBotanicals online health clinic and Holistic Resources Co online community for health, wellness and green movement professionals. Lover of stand up paddle-boarding, bike riding, re-bounding, Yoga & wholefoods.