A guest blog written by Eleni Tsikrikas
Ayurveda ( pronounced eye -your -veda) is nature based energetic system of medicine originating from India. It’s over 5000 years old and often translated to as “the science of life”. A complete holistic system of healing which complements Yoga, its sister science. Classically, Ayurveda’s main focus is a healthy body and Yoga’s a healthy mind. It’s often referred to as as the “ peoples medicine” because as it utilizes diet and lifestyle throughout a persons life to maintain health and longevity. Ayurveda is classified as a ‘complementary health approach’ by the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health (NCCIH)
An energetic system Vs a mechanistic system of medicine
Ayurveda – views nature (plants and animals) and humans as conscious, connected and sentient. By contrast, Allopathic medicine, has a mechanistic view of nature and humans as machines, along with a one size fits all treatment modality. All the therapies and tools that Ayurveda utilizes come from nature. In fact, Nature is the true healer and anything can be used to reinstate and maintain health.
Why does it matter to me
It has been tried and tested for generations. It’s based on the individual, meaning it’s specific to you. Its important because more and more western medicine is failing us. This disease based fragmented approach places great emphasis on diagnostic tools, pharmaceuticals and surgery. Whereas, Ayurveda has a health and wellness approach. Ayurveda states that everything is interconnected so its about personal and planetary health. Caring for our environment means caring for ourselves and vice versa.
Ayurvedic Cosmology- the big picture
Provides a way of looking at the universe and how it functions. This cosmology, Samkhya, describes the evolution of consciousness into matter. It views all there is as being made up of two components, Spirit and Matter, co-existing in what is referred to as a ‘non-specific’ relationship.
Spirit is light, formless, unchanging, conscious and, in the human psyche, it is the source of all confidence, wisdom and joy. Spirit, often referred to as, the ‘soul’, is most easily accessed through the heart. Matter has shape, form, density and is always changing. It includes nature, the body, mind and emotions.
E= Mc2 The vibrations that make up matter
To borrow from Einstein, E = mc², which asserted that matter could be turned into energy.
Not since Isaac Newton had one man so drastically altered our understanding of how the universe works. Except that Samkhya a 5000 year old philosophy agrees and states that Matter is made up of three energetic qualities or rates of change, known as ‘the gunas’.
These are Rajas (turbulent) Tamas (inert) and Sattva (appropriate).
Rajas refers to change occurring in a rapid or dramatic way. Under pressure, we become reactive and nervous, and push ourselves physically and mentally. Tamas is when change occurs slowly, with great inertia. Mentally, there is heaviness, a resistance to change and a reluctance towards self-reflection. Finally, when Sattva predominates, matter changes in a way that is appropriate, sustainable and healthy.
The beginnings of dis-ease
When our mental and physical processes change too dramatically, it speeds up the breakdown of the mind and body. When we change too slowly, the result is doubt, congestion and heaviness. Change that is appropriate and sustainable creates optimal health, which allows us to experience and express our deepest spiritual connection. Cultivating and maintaining this Sattvic rate of change is the underlying goal of Ayurveda.
Health= An integration of the physical and the spiritual self.
This encompasses the many layers of an individual such as a strong physical body, well functioning physiology, a stable mind and emotions, healthy relationships with others and the environment and consistent spiritual practices aligned with the individuals core beliefs.
Health care is person centered and focused on prevention. Ayurveda states that by understanding the nature of the patient, we can stop the symptoms and then treat the root cause of disease.
What are the dosha’s
Most people are familiar with the three doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha to describe their body type. Each person has a unique combination of the three doshas in their constitutional makeup. Most of us have one or two which are dominant. Our dominant dosha/s determines our physical appearance, the way we think, react and make sense of our world. It presents a complete picture of our individual nature, providing a detailed roadmap for wellness as well as specific tendencies towards disease.
The Tools- Lifestyle medicine
Prevention is key – Ayurveda uses diet and daily practices to get the body healthy. The three interlinked areas that lay the foundation for good health are: Diet that supports the individual’s health, Proper sleep and Vitality.
Digestion- The Master System of the Body
Food is medicine, its proper use sustains a healthy physical body, and provides the fuel for our energy and vitality. In fact, many illnesses can be controlled, simply by making adjustments to diet and eating habits. The quality of our digestion determines the quality of our energy and immunity. When digestion is strong, the body is vital, healthy, happy and strong.
Reseting the clock-sleep
Establishing regular sleep practices is essential for wellbeing and optimal energy. Your body is designed to operate and thrive with Circadian rhythms, meaning following the arc of the sun. Traditionally, we rose at sunrise and slept a few hours after sunset. We slept longer hours in winter and for shorter periods in summer. Today most people are sleep deprived. We tend to go to bed late and wake early feeling tired and lethargic. Getting enough sleep is essential to well being. Sleep repairs and rejuvenates the burden placed on the body when awake. Ayurveda suggest getting to sleep 1-2 hours before midnight. This is the time of the Janitor, when the body goes into repair mode.
Vitality for life- how’s yours
Do you go through life with a happy, zest for living? Do you normally experience great health, a strong immune system and a good tolerance to stress? How do you move through the world? Are you always on the go….moving at a fast pace . Do you take time to nourish and replenish yourself or do you find that you are operating on fumes, feeling depleted? Ayurveda suggests sustainable, conscious exertion of energy appropriate to the individual’s constitution, age, season and lifestyle. Take some time to relax, and renew.
Eleni’s mission is to inspire, empower and educate individuals to live extraordinary lives in harmony with nature and each other.
She is a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner with over 10 years of clinical experience, along with certifications in Yoga and Western Herbalism. A perpetual student, her passion is teaching Ayurveda. She creates home healers with her popular “Skills for Living” classes and professional Health Counselor studies. She is a faculty member at the California College of Ayurveda, where she teaches and mentor students since 2009 and Loyola Marymount University’s Yoga Studies and YogaTherapy courses. Eleni’s extensive knowledge of Ayurveda, Yoga, and Herbalism supports her fierce passion for teaching and healing. She is currently working on creating online education courses for those wanting to learn and super charge their lives and health using Ayurveda.
More info at www.bellymindinstitute.com