The word Ayurveda is sanskrit for “Science of Life”.
Ayurveda is an ancient holistic system of health care – It is the oldest continuously practiced health-care system in the world, which makes it time-tested.
This science is all about moving towards the state of “svastha” – a sanskrit word that translates to “seated in the Self”. Svastha refers to a harmonious state of balance and health. It aims at helping each client to understand their unique needs for health and balance, and to move choice by choice, in the direction of balance.
Ayurveda has a few unique features:
- It teaches the client to be his/her own healer by supporting them to understand more about themselves and their unique constitution and rhythms. No two clients would get the same recommendations because no two people are the same.
- It is based in nature and the principles of nature (gunas): qualities that exist on a spectrum (ex: hot and cold, heavy and light, dry and oily) and the key components that:
- a) Like increases like (ex: hot + hot = really hot)
- b) Opposites balance (ex: hot + cold = less hot/cold)
Using these principles is a simple way to refine your alignment with your optimal state of balance, leading to increased health.
The idea is to help your body maintain homeostasis – internal balance despite external influences.
- It works with the concept of specific organizing energies, known as doshas, which possess specific qualities and act in specific ways based on time of day/time of year/time of life (natural rhythms).
Each person has all three doshas in different proportions. Each dosha is comprised of a group of qualities:
- a) Vata (air – principle of movement and catabolism) is cold, light, dry, rough, mobile, subtle and clear
- b) Pitta (fire – principle of digestion and metabolism) is hot, sharp-penetrating, light, oily, liquid, spreading, and fleshy smelling
- c) Kapha (water – principle of cohesion and anabolism) is heavy, slow, dull, cold, thick, sticky, stable, oily, smooth, and big.
- Its definition of health is:
- a) Balanced organizing energies (doshas)
- b) Balanced digestive fire (agni)
- c) Proper formation of tissues in the body (dhatus)
- d) Proper elimination of wastes from the body (mala)
- e) Harmony in the soul, senses, and mind
- Its goal is to:
- a) Maintain health in the healthy
- b) Improve the health in the ill
- Three pillars of health:
- a) Nourishment on all levels – body, senses, energy, emotions, mind, spirit (ahara)
- b) Sleep (nidra)
- c) Energy & stress management (brahmacharya)
- It is a process of healing and learning how to make healthy choices – not a diagnosis. Every choice you make either moves you towards health and balance (is medicinal) or away from it (is poisonous). Ayurveda offers an opportunity to learn about what is healing for you, and what isn’t.
Based on these features, an Ayurvedic Consultation includes the following:
1. The completion of an intake form
- An in-depth conversation about your life:
- Health goals,
- Main qualities and organizing energies,
- Medical history,
- Diet, digestion and elimination,
- How you spend each day (lifestyle and routine)
- 8-fold examination – Body, pulse, eyes, skin/nails, urine, feces, voice, and tongue.
- Discussion around your constitution (dosha) and imbalances (vikruti)
- 5. A personalized plan with recommendations for
- Cleansing practices,
- and in my case as a practitioner, Yoga/meditation practices
All of which are intended to help move you towards your state of balance and harmony. It is important to recognize that working with Ayurveda is a process, much like the scientific method – trial and error (known as upashaya).
There are many wonderful resources around Ayurveda available to us, books, blogs, etc. And yet in the beginning, the individual tends to be better served to have an experienced guide to help them through the process of learning and understanding the principles. Once this has happened, then many are able to navigate their own way really well, checking in when needed.
Mona teaches Ayurvedic Yoga at the Janati Yoga School in Kingston Ontario, where she lives with her wonderful husband, their enthusiastic dog, and ninja kitten. When she’s not teaching, practicing or talking about yoga, you might find her enjoying a good meal, kayaking, climbing a mountain in Ireland, or zip-lining over a forest in Costa Rica, Roatan, or Whistler BC.