Sunday, November 3, 2013
What is "Ayurveda" Anyway?
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that translates into "the science of life". The tenants of Ayurveda were recorded more than 5,000 years ago making it one of the oldest, holistic medical systems in the world today. It is comprised of practices and philosophies that regard the mind, body and spirit as a whole unit. When any of these components become compromised, imbalance ensues which precedes illness, and ultimately manifests as dis-ease (Lad, pages 15-19).
There are a variety of ways a person can become more aware of what needs to be maintained for holistic balance. Each person is a unique combination of the five"elements" of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space (Ether). The combinations of these natural elements, genetic recall and karmic memory make up each individual's human constitution, or Prakriti. The elements transmute their energies into the human form by way of three operating principles of nature called Doshas (Tiwari, pages 15-16; 23). These principles are thought to determine physical appearance, thought and emotional tendencies, and strengths and weaknesses within different people. (To determine which Doshic tendencies you may have, there is an interesting little quiz you can take found here: http://doshaquiz.chopra.com/short/ ) The goal of Ayurveda is to know your Prakriti and keep it balanced "for optimum health and happiness." This is achieved by well-suited life-style, exercise, and most importantly, a diet that is in harmony with each individual's needs (Chiodo, page 8 -9).
Maya Tiwari said, "Food is memory." It is from the five elements acting upon each other that subatomic particles, minerals, nutrients and living cells are formed. As we consume food, there is an inherent memory brought to our cells of sustenance (Tiwari, page 15). Each morsel is a reminder of the symbiotic relationship food and cells have had since the beginning of life, itself. It should be emphasized that food has its own inherent memory of the cellular structures within itself, as it was designed to be at the beginning of time. Mutations to these structures alters the delicate DNA and balance of the sustenance held within. Hence, the importance of "living" food is emphasized. Food that has been altered, over-processed or made in a laboratory out of synthetic chemicals is not "living food", nor can it sustain life in healthy cells as they were designed to be sustained. This is another topic, for another time. With all this being said, the importance of food as a key player in balancing for health and happiness is tantamount to the Ayurvedic traditions.
Coming up: Some Ayurvedic-friendly recipes to help balance the Doshas. :) Stay tuned!
Chiodo, Tess. "Ayurveda 101." Presentation at Joyful Yoga. 29 Sept. 2013.
Lad, Dr. Vasant. "Ayurveda The Science of Self-Healing." 1984.
Tiwari, Maya. "Ayurveda A Life of Balance." 1995.
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