what is ayurveda?
Now that yoga has established a world-wide presence, her sister, Ayurveda [ah-yer-vey-duh, -vee-], is emerging as an important global system of mind-body medicine. This traditional medical system of India, shares the same language, philosophy, depth and antiquity as Yoga, going back over 5,000 years.
Comprised of eight branches (internal medicine, psychology, pediatrics, surgery, otolaryngology, aphrodisiacs, toxicology, and rejuvenation/geriatrics) it is both a natural healing system and guide to the art of daily living. It's a system that allows you your own spiritual beliefs and invites you to clean up your act, emphasizing relation to self and relation with Nature and her rhythms. But beware, Ayurveda is not for the lazy. It is said the act of studying Ayurveda is likened to that of swimming across the ocean. It's a life-long process where a teacher can teach you how to swim, but the swimming is up to you.
Ayurveda examines the relationships between the Universe's five elements (Ether [space], Air, Fire, Earth, and Water) and their inherent energies that govern our physiology and well-being. Treatment approaches include lifestyle modifications surrounding diet choices, exercise, yoga and meditation, breathing exercises (pranayama), the intake of herbs, and receiving specific bodywork treatments to detoxify, restore and rejuvenate the mind-body. They are relative to time and the individual's unique make up of these elements. At once a vast body of knowledge and an inclusive approach to healing, Ayurveda does not subscribe to rigid applications of "do's" and "do not's". It is a middle-of-the-road, richly-layered system steeped in tradition, and "...developed in a culture where worship, religion, philosophy, health, poetry, dance, and music were interwoven on a daily basis." (Frawley, 2001, pp. vii)
Its natural approach compliments treatment plans from other medical systems without interfering and is what allows for the greatest results over time with little to none of the side-effects most commonly experienced in allopathic approaches. It is a lens thru which to view your life, knowing where your natural tendencies and inclinations serve you or create more challenges. It is a means of uniting the senses with the soul, mind, and body and unlocking your latent potential for self-healing and higher levels of consciousness.
Reference: Frawley D, Summerfield Kozak S. (2001). Yoga for Your Type: An Ayurvedic Approach to Your Asana Practice. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press.