What’s Ayurveda And How Does It Work?
Ayurveda is India’s traditional system of health care. Conceived and developed by the seers (Rishis) and natural scientists through centuries of observations, experiments, discussions, and meditations, Ayurveda is a natural system of medicine that has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. The word Ayurveda is Sanskrit for “Science of Life” or “Practices of Longevity.”
In practice this system emphasizes prevention of disease, rejuvenation of the body systems, and consequently extension of life span.
The profound premise of Ayurveda is that through guided practices, not only can we prevent heart disease and make our headaches go away, but we can also better understand ourselves and the world around us, live a long healthy life in balance and harmony, achieve our fullest potential, and express our true inner nature on a daily basis.
Ayurveda provides an integrated approach to preventing and treating illness both through lifestyle interventions and ancient natural herbal therapies.
To understand how these techniques work you have to delve into the philosophy behind Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, the mind (consciousness) and the body (physical mass) not only influence each other – they are each other. Together they form the mind-body.
Zooming out, with this perspective in mind, it becomes clear that the universal consciousness is an aware “ocean of energy” which is so powerful that it gives rise to the physical world we perceive through our five senses.
Ayurvedic philosophy and practices link us to each aspect of ourselves, reminding us that we are also in unity with every aspect of nature, each other, and the entire universe. Thus, it follows that there can be no mental health without physical health, and vice versa. Because of this, in Ayurveda, symptoms and diseases that might usually be categorized as mental thoughts or feelings are regarded as just as important as symptoms and diseases of the physical body. Both are due to imbalances within a person, and both are treated by restoring the natural balance, mentally and physically to the patient. In Ayurveda your whole life, as well as your lifestyle must be in harmony before you can enjoy true health and balance.
For several thousands of years, these teachings were passed on orally from teacher to student, and used widely in Indian society by rich and poor alike. In current times, there has been a growing interest in Ayurveda that is reinforced by laboratory and clinical studies on Ayurvedic herbal remedies and other therapies that have shown to have a range of potentially beneficial effects.
Additionally, published studies have documented reductions in cardiovascular disease risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and reaction to stress, in individuals who practice Ayurvedic methods. In present-day India, Ayurvedic practitioners receive state-recognized, institutionalized training in parallel to their physician counterparts. In the United States, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association is working to establish standards of practice and a national licensing exam for Ayurvedic professionals.
Due to all of these innovations in Ayurveda, this healing system is now being used successfully in treating modern disorders such as certain cancers, infectious diseases, diabetes, aging and generally for promoting health.
Ayurveda is applicable to every living thing, as implied by its name: “The Science of Life.” Vedic sciences conceive of every aspect of the world as a living being including the various elements that make up the universe such as air, wind, fire, earth, as well as the planets, stars, etc. In essence, the basic premise of Ayurveda is that the entire cosmos is part of one singular absolute being. Therefore, everything that exists in the vast external universe, the macrocosm, also appears in the internal cosmos of the human body, the microcosm.
When looking through this lens you can see that the human body, consisting of 50-100 million cells, when healthy and in harmony is self-perpetuating and self-correcting just as the universe is. The ancient Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita says, “Man is the epitome of the universe. Within man, there is as much diversity as in the world outside. Similarly, the outside world is as diverse as human beings themselves.” In other words, all human beings are a living microcosm of the universe and the universe is a living macrocosm of human beings.