If you ask Indians where Ayurveda comes from, you most probably will get the following answer: from the Gods…
The origin of Ayurveda is quite spiritual and the below story is found in all the sacred texts (also called vedas). Here is the beautiful hindu mythological story…
« Lord ‘Brahma’ is known as the creator of universe. He had great knowledge and power. He was divine. He imparted the knowledge of Ayurveda to a sage named ‘Dakshaprajapati’, who received it through deep meditation. Later on, this was passed to twin brothers named ‘Ashwinao’ who were known as physicians of Gods. Finally, King of Gods Lord Indra received this knowledge. Later on, the enlightened sages became concerned with the suffering of mankind on earth caused due to illness and pains. There was a meeting of all great sages to find a solution to this existing problem. They finally found their answer in Ayurveda and prayed to Lord Indra to impart this knowledge on earth for the betterment of mankind. Thus, Dhanwantari, who is considered as reincarnation of Lord Vishnu was chosen by Lord Indra as a guiding sage for Ayurveda. »
WHAT IS IT?
‘Ayur’ means ‘life’ and ‘veda’ means ‘science’ hence, Ayurveda means the science of life. Ayurveda has 8 divisions:
- Kayachikitsa – internal medicine
- Shalakyachikitsa – surgery of head, neck, ophtalmology, ornithology
- Shalyachikitsa – surgery
- Agadtantra – toxicology
- Bhootvidya – psychiatry
- Kaumaryabhritya tantra – pediatrics
- Rasayan – science of rejuvenation
- Vajikaran – science of fertility
This is the oldest form of healthcare system, based on a holistic system of medicine, treating every layer of the human being: body, mind and spirit. This medecine can be practiced curatively or preventively and uses all methods of healing: yoga, meditation, purification, astrology, herbs, gems, color, massages, diets etc.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The main principle of Ayurveda is that everything in the nature, body, food, season etc. is composed of the 5 elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space (or Void or Ether). These elements are grouped in 3 categories, the tridoshas: Pitta, Vata, kapha. If not balanced, it will create illness within the body.
We all come with a predominant dosha and a particular structure at birth, according to 7 constitutions: vata, pitta, kapha, kapha-pitta, kapha-vata, vata-pitta or all 3 of them equally. Optimally these doshas need to be balanced for you to be healthy but little by little, with the stress, traumas, accidents, industrial food, well life basically, they get more and more imbalanced. Ayurveda is then here to identify what the imbalance is within the doshas and rebalance with the help of specific treatments, all based on nature: natural medicine, herbal oil massages, specific ayurvedic treatments, food, yoga etc.
These constitutions will determine certain traits, mental and physical of a person that you can find below:
|PREDOMINANT ELEMENTS||Wind & Ether||Fire & Water||Water & Earth|
|QUALITIES||Dry, cool, mobile, rough, subtle, light, etc.||Hot, fast acting, having bad odour, light, slightly greasy and bitter in taste||Greasy, moist, cold, heavy, slow acting, stable and sweet in taste|
|SKIN||Dry||Delicate||Smooth, Slightly Greasy|
|HAIR||Curly, Dry and Coarse||Light Brown, Scanty and Soft||Black, Thick and Shining|
|BOWELS||Irregular and Constipated||Regular, 2-3 ries a day||Regular, Once a day|
|STOOLS||Dry, Hard||Semi-solid||Well formed|
|SLEEP||Poor, Not Sound||Scanty, But Sound||Deep and Sound, Have difficulty waking up|
|SPEECH||Talkative||Speak Purposefully||Slow cautions|
|MEMORY||Learn quickly – forget fast||Learn quickly – retains for longer time||Learns slowly but retains the longest|
|PREFERENCES||Prefer warm climate and warm beverages||Prefer cold climate and cold beverages||Tolerate the temperature variations easily|
|DREAMS||Motion – flying, running, etc.||Heat – fire, red colour etc.||Water – swans etc.|
WHERE TO GO?
To benefit from an ayurvedic treatment in India, you can visit a doctor in Ayurveda, that will give you a medicinal treatment according to your needs. In addition, you can also attend an Ayurveda therapy in a clinic, center, hotel, health club etc. Kerala, in India has now a very prominent place for ayurvedic therapies and is also the main location where the production of herbal ayurvedic medicines are produced. There are different forms of physical therapies, like:
- Panchakarma (purification)
- Ramayana (rejuvenation)
- Samana (medicinal herbs)
WHAT TO DO?
Panchakarma is the most popular therapy and the one that is most commonly done. It is the cleansing, detoxifying and purifying therapy.
Indeed, even though the body has the ability to heal itself and to find ways to regenerate naturally, the current way of living separated the human beings from the powers of nature, cutting man from its natural abilities. Panchakarma will help evacuate toxins and waste, that have accumulated, for the body to recover its life force and be able to fight the illness.
This therapy is based on 3 phases:
– Preparation – with massages and sweating to boost the toxins elimination
– Purification – with the introduction of the main panchakarma therapies listed below (one or several will be administrated according to the person’s dosha condition
– Regeneration – with tonifying treatments with antioxydant and stimulating fixtures of plants
There are 5 methods of purification for the body that will be determined according to your dosha:
-> To cleanse upper, middle and lower part of the gastro intestinal tracts respectively
- Emesis or Vanama (rarely indicated) – for Kapha – It is indicated to purify and eliminate toxins of the upper body through vomiting (the mouth being the best way to remove toxins for these part of the body). Although vomiting is associated to negative sensations like nausea etc., Vanama is said to be painless and quite smooth actually.
Works on asthma, respiratory and mental diseases, gastric ulcers, hyperacidity, headaches, sinusitis, diabetes etc.
- Purgation or Virechana – for Pitta – It is indicated purify the blood and to cleanse the sweat glands, small intestine, colon, kidneys, stomach, liver, and spleen by administrating herbs medicines as laxatives.
Works on gastric diseases, jaundice, genital diseases, arthritis, diabetes etc.
- Enemas or Vasti – for Vata – It is indicated to eliminate toxins through the intestinal tract by introducing an oil medicine (can be made of mixture of oils and plants, decoctions or oil alone) into the rectum to cleanse the lower part of the intestinal tract.
Works on abdominal disturbances, arthritis, infertility, rheumatic diseases etc.
-> To purify fluid tissues
- Nasal drops or Nasya – for Kapha -> To cleanse head region by introducing medicinal herbs as nasal drops into the nostrils, helping drain out waste and toxins fro the head and neck area.
Works on sinusitis, headache, common cold, ear inflammation, cervical and shoulders stiffness etc.
- Blood letting or Raktamokshana (rarely indicated) – for Pitta – By draining blood out, with very very small cuts (on arms, legs or designated areas) or in some cases with leech. This therapy allows « bad » blood to flow out and be replaced by freshly generated blood, in very short period.
Works on psoriasis, eczema, other skin problems, menstrual problem, headaches etc.
These detoxifying therapies are complementary to other specific treatments such as hot oils massages, steam baths, etc. and happen at certain moments of the cure for a certain period of time.
Panchakarma is a first step to the rejuvenation therapy also known as Rasayana Therapy, as it will remove all the impurities that prevent the body to naturally fight against the diseases, boosting the immune system and releasing energy throughout the body channels to restore harmony of the body, mind and soul. One can do the Panchakarma therapy several times before doing any other therapies.
YOGA AND NUTRITION
In addition to the treatments, to help heal the physical and emotional layers of the human being, it is well advised to practice yoga everyday in Ayurveda. Yoga plays an essential role in the therapy bringing to the physical and emotional practice the spiritual part to also help aligning body, mind and spirit by exercise, breathing and meditation.
In Ayurveda, the nutrition plays an essential role in addition to the treatments, therapies and physical activity with yoga. Savory and healthy meals are served, to bring balance for each dosha: very little to no salt or sugar (fruits only), typical Indian dishes and soups (at every meal).
You want to discover your dosha? You can do the test here
If you want to learn more about Ayurveda and watch a beautiful documentary click here
Wanna read about my experience of a 3 week Panchakarma Ayurvedic therapy, click here!
Sources: Dr Shobha Rajendranat Mattindia Ayurvedic center / Global Ayurveda handbook