The word Ayurveda perfectly describes the art of living well and fully. The term is a combination of Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (knowledge). This holistic system of healing techniques is over 5000 years old and has had an important influence on the development of Western medicine. Following the basic principles of Ayurveda in our everyday lives can lead to big improvements in our health. We might, for example, keep in mind that many toxins in our body are soluble in oils, which might seem counterintuitive at first.
People in many parts of India and Sri Lanka still rely exclusively on Ayurveda for their healthcare and can lead long and healthy lives without any need for Western medicine. They are mindful of their bodies and work on maintaining the balance between the mind, body and spirit. They know what kind of food and exercise their bodies respond to best and understand the importance of preventing health issues through wholesome living. They can treat symptoms successfully because they understand their underlying causes. It might sound simple, but it takes a lot of training before one learns to listen to the body.
In the Western world we often take the exactly opposite approach, using our hectic lifestyles as an excuse for our unhealthy life choices. Ayurveda teaches us to take responsibility for our bodies, health and way of life. Unlike Western medicine, Ayurveda treats every person as a unique individual. It does not fight against illness, but for health. It does not treat our various body parts as though they were separate from the whole and also understands that our physical selves are connected to, and influenced by, our emotions and our mind. All this creates a complex whole, which is unique to each person depending on their environment and their inner response to it.
How are we to integrate the teachings of Ayurveda into our Western mind-set and use it to achieve a more balanced life and better health? First we must become acquainted with our bodies, our constitution and personality. These form the basis for our nutrition, daily routine and lifestyle. According to Ayurveda there are three doshas – which can roughly be translated as states: vata, pita and kapha – which connect the five elements of the cosmos (ether, air, fire, water and earth) in us. An imbalance of the doshas can cause a myriad different problems with digestion, flexibility, weight and other aspects of our physical and mental wellbeing.
Contemporary Western standards are not healthy for our body, spirit or mind. But Ayurveda has been around for millennia, paving a path to better health and the achievement of our life goals – with less stress and more joy