What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda (pronounced) “EYE-yer-VAY-da” may be the world's oldest continuously practiced health system, dating up to five thousand years ago Ayurveda can be loosely translated as the “science of life.” The word comes from combining "Ayur," meaning life, and "Veda,” meaning knowledge. So Ayurveda literally means "the knowledge of life" - how to live in the best possible way.

Ayurveda is a very basic, simple, natural approach to living. It is a beautiful combination of oral and written instruction, spirituality, philosophy, mythology, AND SCIENTIFIC knowledge that has been around for over 5000 years.

It is rooted in the oldest spiritual texts of India called the Vedas. These texts (some of which date back to 450-1500 BCE.) are widely considered to be the most ancient science and address ALL aspects of healing and well-being for both body and mind.

(Here’s a little backstory: Ayurveda, even though it originated in India, gained traction and prestige in Sri Lanka, China, Tibet, and Nepal, influencing these various philosophies and healing traditions. There was a point when Western medicine denounced Ayurveda as inferior when India was colonized. However, it continued to be practiced under the radar of colonists in rural areas and monasteries.

Ayurveda is making a huge comeback in India, North America, and other Western countries. We are now looking to combine the science and technology of traditional Western medicine with Ayurveda's holistic, preventative healing art. With the emphasis on prevention and empowering people to have more control over their health via the choices they make in their everyday lives, Ayurveda has become a holistic wellness system that is infiltrating the mainstream, unbeknownst to many. For instance, Kaizer Permanente is displaying billboards around LA referencing circadian rhythms - how crazy fantastic is that? Costco did a 2-page layout last summer on Ayurveda and holistic health. And yes.....they called it by its real name).

So, the classical texts of the “Charaka Samhita” describe Ayurveda as having four parts: the physical body, the mind, the soul, and the senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste).

Contrary to Western models, which traditionally focus primarily on the physical body, Ayurveda has always focused on the health of all four fundamental aspects of life. This system looks at the whole person- using diet, biorhythms, herbal medicine, psychology, wholesome lifestyle, surgery, and therapeutic bodywork to address the root cause of disease. Whereas Western medicine excels at resolving acute situations, Ayurveda stands out as a preventative medicine- seeking to halt the progression from imbalance to disease by addressing the underlying causes early on.

Ayurveda recognizes that every human being is a microcosm (a small part or reflection) of the macrocosm (the big picture or universe) Our minds and bodies are made up of the same elements that make up everything around us, and we are moved by the same energies or forces that move the oceans, the winds, the stars, and the planets.

The philosophy behind Ayurveda is simple: just as the cycles of sun, moon, and tides, and the seasons ebb and flow- so do we. The introduction of artificial light, global food transportation, and our busy schedules make it easy to get out of sync with nature’s rhythms.

Ayurveda and Yoga stem from the same philosophical roots and aim to create a union between microcosm and macrocosm. Yoga is a pathway for navigating the connection of the mind and body with the larger world around us. In modern times, when many suffer in body and mind due to a lack of connection, the shared goal of Yoga and Ayurveda to unite mind, body, and spirit is exactly what we need.

Ayurveda often uses the movements and breathing techniques from yoga to access the energy body, which is very helpful for managing stress and restoring the body’s natural rhythms.

If you get out of sync with nature’s rhythms- by eating processed foods, staying up all night, burning the candle on both ends or working all day without a break- your body and mind will become out of whack.

The link between the mind and overall health is clear- an imbalance in one will lead to an imbalance in the other. Like a fish going upstream, going against natural currents will slow you down. Over time, you will start to feel tired, anxious, or depressed, and over time, you will end up out of order and dis-eased.

Healthy Digestion is the most fundamental aspect of overall wellness in Ayurveda. The complete digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food nutrients create the body's building blocks, called ahara rasa or “the essence of food.” Chewing and swallowing your food mixes with water, enzymes, and acid; the product is the essence or juice used to make tissues. In this way, healthy digestion makes a healthy body. Digesting food properly connects us to the essence of the food we eat daily and to our planet that provides this food. This is why diet is a profound aspect of Ayurvedic healing.

Ayurveda has completely changed how I look at food, nourish my body, observe and interact with my environment, and to see food as medicine, not just for pleasure. Even though I enjoy its celebratory aspects from time to time, food has become more of a beautiful, conscious way that I get to take care of my body, mind, spirit, and those I feed. This ancient system has enhanced and deepened my connection to my 24-year-old practice and taught me to cultivate love, respect, and awareness for my body I only ever experienced on my yoga mat. As I explore, study, implement, and teach this powerful ancient healing wisdom, the more in control I feel of my health, my future, and how I choose to feel moving forward through my 40s and into my 50s.

XO 

Paula 

Ps. My Signature program "Glow with Soul Daily and Seasonal Habits" is rooted in the principles of Ayurveda and teaches the most basic and effective, sustainable, natural ways of caring for yourself (and your family).

Click HERE to learn more.