The Healing Art of Ayurveda

Ayurveda means knowledge of life(5). Originally traditionally passed verbally from generation to generation, the first texts recorded Ayurvedic medicine more than 5 000 years ago in Sanskrit. With the earliest concepts of Ayurveda outlined in the Vedas, the writings, detail rituals, worship, hymns, mantras, and ways of life (1). Since then, the practice has evolved and developed into a complex and broad range of alternative medicine. The practice of Ayurveda is one of the very few principles of medicine that were developed in ancient times that is still used today. It is estimated that up to 80 % of the population in India and Nepal still practice and abide by the Ayurvedic teachings (2).

The Philosophy of Ayurveda

Ayurvedic philosophy is rooted in the attainment of balance and avoiding the suppression of natural urges, which can lead to disease and illness. By moderating our food intake and sleep, amongst other things, health conditions can be effectively treated and managed. Ayurveda is a holistic practice that combines the mind, body, and spirit to heal the whole person (3). 

Ayurvedic therapies include medicines, special diets, meditation, yoga, massage therapy, and medical oils. Ayurvedic medicines incorporate herbal substances and minerals, while the practices seek balance through the natural cycles of sleeping, working, meditation, exercise, yoga and maintaining one’s hygiene (1). 

What Are Dosha?

In Ayurveda, the world is comprised of five elements: ether, water, earth, fire and air. The combination of these elements is known as doshas. Doshas are the three components that are thought to be present in the body (4). The three doshas are vata, kapha, and pitta. Your body, mind and spirit (5) are connected to your doshas. With a unique ratio of dosha in each person’s body, your Ayurvedic treatment is tailored to suit your particular needs and address your imbalances and illnesses. 

Vata

Comprised of predominantly air and ether, vata can be characterised by dry, cold, light, spacious, flowing and rough attributes. A person with unbalanced vata may suffer from impaired blood circulation, gas, and digestive issues.

Kapha

Kapha is the combination of earth and water, and it is characterised by slowness, softness, heaviness, stability, and coldness. A person with unbalanced kapha may experience breathing issues such as asthma and allergies. Other issues may include depression, heart disease, and weight gain.

Pitta

A combination of fire and water, pitta is described as liquid, light, sharp, oily, and mobile. Someone who is pitta dominant may be prone to body heat, acne, and inflammation. (4) (5)

The Ayurvedic Way of Life

Following Ayurvedic practices has a variety of long-term benefits. Ayurveda aims to bring the body into balance through a holistic approach to health and healing, designed specifically to bring your doshas into balance. While some Ayurvedic enthusiasts may focus on the potential for weight loss, glowing skin and strong hair, there are various other potential benefits. 

Ayurvedic Practices and Rituals

Because Ayurveda is a holistic form of medicine, there are a wide variety of daily rituals and practices which can be incorporated into your day. These practices have been used for centuries, with the aim of balancing your dosha and promoting physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. 

Wake Up Early

The best start to your day is an early one. Ayurvedic principles assert that the best time to wake up is before dawn. Waking up early will ensure you have energy throughout the day. If you wake up after sunrise, you are more likely to feel sluggish throughout the day. 

Wash, Rinse, and Cleanse

Hygiene is an essential aspect of Ayurvedic life. Once your eyes are open, your next ritual is to wash your face, mouth, eyes, and nose. You want to wash your face thoroughly with a splash of cool water, be sure to clean the rheum from your eyes. 

To clean your mouth, you want to scrape your tongue with a tongue cleaner, followed by brushing your teeth as usual. To clean your nose, you should fill a neti pot with warm saline, with your head over the sink, tilted forward, and to one side. You will take turns to pour the saline into each nostril while it flows out through the opposite nostril. This thorough cleansing will wash away any toxins accumulated during the night.

Oil Pulling

The purpose of oil pulling, similar to cleansing, is to remove any waste and toxins which may have accumulated. Gargle with one to two tablespoons (about 20 mL) of sesame seed oil for four to five minutes.

Drink Water

After you’ve finished the cleansing part of your morning ritual, you want to stimulate your digestive system with one or two cups of lukewarm water with a splash of honey and lemon.

Massage Oil into Your Skin

Spend five to ten minutes rubbing warm oil into your skin from the soles of your feet to your scalp. This will not only keep your skin supple and soft, but it will also stimulate your circulation. This ritual is to be followed by a shower or bath. 

During the Day

Over the course of the day, you want to get some exercise and meditation to keep your physical and mental faculties fit and healthy.

Turn Your Lights Down Low

In the evening, you will dim the lights and limit your screen time. This will prepare your body for relaxation and sleep. This could also be an excellent time to meditate if you have not done so yet.

Smell the Sandalwood

To further aid your relaxation, you should light a soothing scented candle or incense. Choose a scent that is relaxing, such as sandalwood or lavender. These scents have calming and grounding properties that will help you calm your mind after a busy day.

Early to Bed

The last and final step in your Ayurvedic routine is to go to bed early. If you don’t manage to turn in on time, you will undoubtedly struggle to rise tomorrow, and you will miss out on that deep and much-needed sleep. (7) (8)

To kick off and support your Ayurvedic lifestyle, consider incorporating Ayurvedic supplements in your diet. Sfera’s range of Ayurvedic herbals include Ashwagandha, Tulsi, Gymnema, Saberry, Bacopin and Shatavari.

 

References:

  1. Where Ayurveda Comes From
  2. Ayurveda Wikipedia
  3. Ayurvedic Medicine Origin History and Principles
  4. Vata Dosha, Pitta Dosha, Kapha Dosha - Practices & Evidence
  5. The Healing Art of Ayurveda - 13 Factors for Beginners
  6. 10 Proven Medical Benefits of Ayurveda
  7. All-Day Ayurveda: Give Your Daily Routine a Makeover
  8. Ayurveda Daily Routine