Ayurveda is a system of medicine rooted in the same principles of yoga, both stemming from the Hindu culture and practices. While the exact origins are up for debate it is known that the practice of ayurveda evolved from the Vedas, (the sanskrit word for ‘wisdom’) a collection of ancient texts written in vedic sanskrit and dated from the mid 2nd to mid 1st millennium BCE.
Just as with yoga, its ‘sister science’ ayurveda has eight limbs, each of which addressing a different area of this alternative medical system. Two of these eight limbs have to do with surgery, though much of the emphasis within ayurveda is placed upon prevention and building up a healthful self. Attention to proper digestion and excretion through diet coupled with a focus on yoga and meditation is key within ayurvedic principles.
Dinacharya includes hygienic practices ranging from tongue scraping and using a net pot to clear the sinuses through regular bathing. This principle also encompasses daily routine involving exercise, massage, meditation, elimination, eating, relaxation and the sleep-wake cycle.
The most important concept within ayurveda is Prakriti which is the sanskrit word for ‘nature’. Prakriti is made up of the three gunas: Rajas (passion, active, confused), Tamas (darkness, destructive, chaotic) & Sattva (goodness, constructive, harmonious). These three qualities make up everything in the universe. Ayurveda also requires a balance of the three Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha for optimal health. Some people will identify largely with one of the three, but most are a combination of mostly two with a splash of the third. Find out what your predominant dosha is here.
Here are five easy ways you can incorporate the ayurvedic system of wellness into your everyday life today!
- Find out what your prominent dosha is and work toward balancing yourself.
- Know what you’re eating and how it will affect the balance of your dosha. This will probably entail making more meals from scratch at home rather than eating out- your waistline will thank you as well!
- Encourage movement of your lymphatic fluid: Ensuring the proper functioning of channels (srotas) that transport fluids is one part of ayurvedic treatment, as a lack of healthy channels is thought to be a cause of disease. The lymphatic system is the only one within the body that does not have a pump and therefore relies upon the engagement of surrounding muscles and gravity to allow for movement. This means staying hydrated, exercising and perhaps including dry brushing as a part of your shower routine.
- Sneeze! Balance is emphasized in ayurveda: suppressing natural urges is considered unhealthy and claimed to lead to illness. To suppress sneezing, for example, may give rise to shoulder pain. However, take caution and stay within reason when following nature’s urges. Use moderation of food intake, sleep, and sex.
- Try nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing; a simple breathing technique before bed to calm the mind and bring about balance.