Ayurveda (science of life) आयुर्वेद
Ayurveda is complementary to Western medicine. It sees the body as a garden, and instructs how to create a climate for your life to thrive.
Ayurveda has thousands of years of documented support on how to work with human conditions, with diet and lifestyle changes used as the primary lines of treatment. Those who are willing to spend quality time gardening, regularly, will absolutely harvest wellness benefits.
Definition of Health according to Ayurveda
समदोषाः समाग्निश्च समधातुमलक्रियाः प्रसन्नात्मेन्द्रियमनाः स्वस्थ इत्यभिधीयते
“A healthy person has balance with climatic forces, balanced digestive fire, well-formed tissues, smooth elimination of wastes, and excellent actions of bodily processes; has bliss throughout soul, senses and mind; and is established in the true Self (the Holy Spirit). ”
— Sushruta Sutrasthana 15:38
WHAT HAPPENS AT AN AYURVEDA CONSULTATION?
Before a first visit, you will be asked to complete a thorough health history. During the first visit, the practitioner will ask clarifying questions about your diet and lifestyle, main concerns, and health care goals. Likely, in addition to physical conditions, you will be asked about your energy levels during the day, sleep patterns, social and personal relationships, financial situation and spiritual life. You are empowered to share only as you feel comfortable.
With your permission, the practitioner may observe physical characteristics:
•your tongue, which shows patterning of the digestive tract
•your eyes, which store information about your nervous system and health history
•your pulse, which reveals information about your circulation and internal organ function
•palpation of your abdomen for internal organ check
•palpation of areas of your lymphatic system for elimination check
•observation and palpation of areas of major concern for you
•asking you to attempt range of motion exercises
After this thorough intake session, the practitioner may also have time to offer you a therapeutic technique:
•pressure point bodywork
•administration of herbal oil to the nose, and/or ears
•yoga postures or breathing techniques specific to your condition
•application of warm oil to the forehead
Following the session, you will receive a follow up email with several recommendations, which may include diet and lifestyle changes, herbal support, and referrals to other health care providers.
CAN I SEE AN AYURVEDIC PRACTITIONER INSTEAD OF AN MD?
No. Visiting an Ayurvedic practitioner is not a substitute for your care with a Western MD. We work in conjunction with, and in full disclosure to your Western doctor. Certain recommendations will require consent from your Western doctor. If you are not happy with your current doctor, ask us for a recommendation.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER AN AYURVEDA CONSULTATION?
The weeks after your initial consultation will allow you time to implement the recommendations you have received. Email support is available for you to ask clarifying questions. Coming to weekly Ayurveda class is an excellent way to support your session.
Ayurveda is a gardening health care system. We are interested in helping you to achieve optimum health. While some changes may occur immediately and bring tremendous relief or increased wellness, long term changes will be the real measure of success.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I COME FOR A FOLLOW-UP CONSULT?
In Ayurveda, you can see your practitioner while you are well. Seasonal visits are recommended for adjustment to climatic changes. More often than that is certainly beneficial. Wellness can be ever improved, much of Ayurveda is an education, and many of the treatments used in Ayurveda provide deep relaxation and stress relief.
Each human is unique. Everything is potentially medicine, everything is potentially poison. For whom? When?
A treatment for a condition in one person is not necessarily beneficial for another person. For example, exercise is excellent for weight loss for a large-boned overweight person. However, for a thin-boned, stressed, overworked person, exercise may be simply further exhausting. Rest, emotional support, and consistent meal times will likely be more effective for weight loss for this individual.
BASELINE CONSTITUTION PRAKRTI प्रकृति
Each person has a unique baseline body and mind type. This baseline does not change during a person’s lifetime - it is the healthy balance of the elements for that person. There is no single picture of health. A willow tree becomes the most vibrant willow tree, it does not try to become an oak tree.
CURRENT CONDITION VIKRTI विकृति
A person’s current physical and mental state is often away from the ideal baseline. Age changes, climatic forces, relationships, food, lifestyle choices, bacterial and environmental stressors all create accumulation of elements. This accumulation is the first stage in the dis-ease process in Ayurveda. Wellness increases as the current condition becomes guided back toward the baseline constitution. For example, a plant that requires a lot of water for vitality can wither after several days of dry sun exposure... and then perk back up with watering.
5 ELEMENTS OF CREATION MAHAABHUUTA महाभूत
Ayurveda classifies all things as being comprised of 5 basic elements:
Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space.
These 5 elements then combine to create 3 primary bodily organizations.
3 PRIMARY BODILY FUNCTIONS: VAATA, PITTA, KAPHA
Vaata is the most subtle energy and is associated with all movement in the body, such as breathing, heart pulsation, muscle action, sense activity, cell movement.
Vaata is composed of space and air.
Vaata has the qualities of dry, rough, light, cold, subtle, clear and mobile
Vaata increases with the pungent, bitter and astringent tastes.
Emotionally, healthy Vaata provides creativity, unhealthy it is anxious.
General guidelines for balancing Vaata:
- choose a lifestyle that is calm
- keep regular daily and weekly routines
- stay warm, especially avoid extreme cold and cold winds
- use yoga tools in ways that produce warmth, calm, balance and a sense of stability
- eat enough, and eat warm food with warming spices
- limit travel
- reduce the number of activities, minimize multi-tasking
- enjoy plenty of rest
is the energy of transformation, ruling digestion and metabolism
Pitta is composed of Water and Fire.
Pitta has the qualities of oily, sharp, penetrating, hot, light, spreading, liquid, strong-smelling
Pitta increases with the sour, salty, and pungent tastes.
Emotionally, healthy Pitta provides ambition and courage, unhealthy it is overly critical.
General guidelines for balancing Pitta:
- turn off all electrical devices soon after dark. Use candles or natural light.
- avoid excessive heat, oil and steam
- avoid alcohol, fermented foods, vinegar, pickles, sharp, sour and spicy foods
- eat sweeter, non-spicy foods
- take breaks from intense, focused work
- play - and noncompetitive play, preferably in fresh air near trees or water
- use yoga tools playfully, that offer cooling, mental relaxation and absorption
- let go and let God, accept the things you cannot change
Kapha is the energy of lubrication and offers the body structure
Kapha is composed of Earth and Water
Kapha has the qualities of heavy, slow, dull, cool, oily, slimy, dense, soft, stable, substantial (gross), cloudy
Kapha increases with the sweet, sour and salty tastes
Emotionally, healthy Kapha provides stability and love, unhealthy it is depressed and possessive.
General guidelines for balancing Kapha:
exercise often and regularly - keep moving
avoid heavy, oily, and fatty foods
avoid iced drinks and cold foods
avoid dairy products
limit baked goods, carbohydrates in general
eat dry, light and raw foods
avoid excessive sleep, especially daytime naps
rise early and change routines
IMPORTANCE OF DIGESTIVE FIRE AGNI अग्नि
No matter which constitution type one has, it is essential to have proper digestive fire. Gas, bloating, constipation, heartburn, hyperacidity and diarrhea have become commonplace in the US, but they are not healthy.
One should feel hunger before eating. Eating a quarter sized sliver of fresh ginger with a dab of raw honey, a pinch of salt and even a dash of lime, a few minutes before a meal, will cultivate digestive fire.
Eat meals 5-6 hours separate from each other. Eat no more than a bowlful that your open hands could create. Minimize snacking unless exercising heavily.
Avoid old food - leftovers, frozen food, and canned food.
BREAKFAST - Make it invigorating, providing quick energy for starting the day. Fruit is perfect in the summer, oatmeal in winter. It is ok for some people to skip breakfast.
LUNCH - Make it substantial, nourishing, with the most protein, sustaining energy for the day. Digestive fire is strongest when the sun is highest. The body has been moving and is ready for fuel. Sit down and have a lunch break
SUPPER - Make it recharging, nourishing, easily digestible. Practically speaking, if you eat leftovers this is the time - leftover lunch for supper - not leftover supper for next day lunch. Be with your loved ones.
ACCUMULATION OF UNPROCESSED FOOD AAMA आम
We are what we eat, both what we digest and what we don’t digest. Ayurveda describes how improperly digested or undigested food becomes a toxic substance that gums up our digestive tract. This goop is then circulated throughout to all other bodily systems, accumulating as debris even at the cellular level. One noticeable sign of Aama is a sticky coating to the tongue upon rising in the morning.
STAY IN BALANCE
Have a strong daily and weekly practice of Ayurveda to keep yourself in balance. Surround yourself with positive, healthy community (including Santosha School), seek guidance from an Ayurveda practitioner seasonally.