I took an inevitable step forward on my Yoga path this winter and veered into the realm of Ayurveda, the related healing discipline to Yoga. I experienced this intriguing and complimentary dimension to Yoga and a brilliant, renewed sense of wellness.
Yoga and Ayurveda are two interrelated branches of the same great tree of Vedic knowledge originating in India (5000 years ago) encompassing all of human life and the entire universe. Vedic knowledge is the ancient mantric science of the seers and yogis of India designed to show us the inner workings of the universe and of our own consciousness, leading us ultimately to the state of Self-realization and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. To this end, it has given us not only spiritual disciplines but has touched on all aspects of healing, science, art, and culture. (David Frawley)
Both examine our embodied nature (body, mind and soul) connecting the causes and treatment of disease or imbalances in a beautiful, clear, and intelligent system of optimal health and total well-being. Ayurveda addresses all aspects of medicine including diet, herbs, bodywork, nature and its own numerous clinical procedures. It brings in ritual, mantra, and meditation for healing the mind, providing life-style recommendations for health, longevity, and disease prevention as well as special methods for deep curative rejuvenation of both body and mind. As a spiritual practice, its partner Yoga leads us to a true identification with ourselves and the ultimate transience of body and mind.
The basic concepts of Ayurveda include the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth) and combine and segregate into three doshas or energies (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) which make up the principle constitutions of our bodies and mental states, both when well and when imbalanced. Vata (ether + air), Pitta (fire + water) and Kapha (earth + water) qualities determine physical and mental balance or imbalance. The five elements influence our individual constitution, the seasons and our internal and external environment, including diet. We all express a combination of these five elements and doshas at any given time - sometimes balanced, sometimes not.
I took my intensive inward journey at Vaidygrama, an exceptional Ayurvedic Clinic-Ashram in South India. Vaidygrama is a conducive healing environment maintaining traditional Ayurvedic practices and in depth treatments. I ventured into a one month Pancha Karma detoxification and purification process (central to Ayurveda) followed by a two week solo retreat. I'll never look back. In summary here I can't begin to do this inner adventure justice, or describe in depth this ancient medical science and it's beneficial practices. I will suggest though, if you're interested, that you read anything by David Frawley, particularly his book 'Ayurveda and the Mind'.
Among the many preventative and curative modalities of health and healing outside of the conventions and limitations of prescriptive allopathic medicine, Ayurveda ranks high in healing our current environmental and mind generated diseases, as does a good Yoga practice.