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Introduction to Ayurveda
Ayurveda is an alternative healing science from India. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia calls it “the science of life” – which is a bold claim. But based on its longevity, perhaps the claim is true.
With a history that spans more than 5,000 years, some practitioners believe Ayurveda is the oldest healing science in existence. Some even argue that it’s the basis for Buddhism and Taoism.
Ayurveda practitioners use it to maintain their spiritual, mental and physical health.
A Natural Alternative
Modern medicine revolves around healing ailments with synthetic drugs created in laboratories. Ayurveda, on the other hand, focuses on preventing and treating illness via natural means.
Herbal remedies, massage, and yoga combined with meditation are the cornerstones of this ancient healing science.
The Purpose of Ayurvedic Massage
Ayurvedic massage differs from traditional massage in that it focuses on pressure points called “marmas”. Marmas are specific areas on the body that stimulate certain internal organs when pressed or rubbed. An Ayurvedic massage therapist must know the location of these pressure points. The therapist must also know which type of massage is appropriate for each person’s personal needs. In Ayurveda, space, air, fire, water and earth are the five elements in nature. It’s believed that these five elements combine in the human body to create doshas.
The three doshas are: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
All three doshas must remain in balance in order for the body and mind to remain healthy. If any one of the doshas gets out of balance, then physical and mental problems will arise. Ayurvedic massage is one of the ways used to balance the doshas. Yoga is another method that’s believed to balance doshas.
You’ve probably heard of Yoga – even if you’ve never done it. Yoga classes are all over the place – spas, gyms, health centers and studios usually offer Yoga classes. You can even buy Yoga DVDs in order to learn at home. For most people, Yoga is simply a terrific way to stay limber and get in shape. Ayurveda practitioners see Yoga as much more than exercise. According to "Yoga for Your Type" by Dr. David Frawley, Yoga for Ayurvedic purposes focuses on the three doshas. When you know which of the doshas apply to you, then you can learn specific Yoga poses for your situation.
Everyone has a combination of doshas, but one is always more dominant.
Asana is the form of Yoga used most often for Ayurvedic purposes. Asana is a term that describes various poses good for strengthening and aligning the doshas. Some practitioners combine Yoga with meditation. In fact, Asana was originally a seated pose that was good for prolonged meditation. Meditation and Yoga is one area where Ayurveda and modern medicine agree. Several medical studies show that meditation combined with Yoga can reduce high blood pressure and reduce stress.
Ayurvedic products involve plant-based treatments and remedies. According to "Ayurvedic Herbs" by Virginia Tyler, practitioners make use of more than 1700 herbs. A practitioner can take common food items and turn them into medicinal wonders. For example, most people use black pepper to season their food. An Ayurveda practitioner might use black pepper to stimulate the digestive system. Even a common sweetener like cinnamon becomes a treatment for nausea, diabetes or Candida in the hands of a practitioner.
Some poisonous and toxic plants have a place in Ayurveda as well. For example, aconite is a poisonous herb used to strengthen the Pitta dosha. Practitioners also use poisonous metals such as lead and mercury in combination with other herbs. In spite of the dangerous substances involved, there’s actually very little danger to the practitioner. All toxic substances undergo a purification process. The process makes toxic substances safe to consume – at least in small amounts.
Ayurvedic activities such as meditation and Yoga promote mental, spiritual and physical wellness. Practically anyone can engage in these activities will little worry of suffering ill side effects.
Like traditional medicines, Ayurvedic herbs can possibly cause side effects. Just because a substance is natural, doesn’t mean it’s 100 percent safe.
A natural remedy could interact with another medication, trigger an allergic reaction or cause some other occurrence.
If you’re interested in replacing conventional medical treatment with an herbal remedy, then speak with your doctor first. You need to know the possible consequences of stopping your current medication.
An Ayurvedic lifestyle could change your life for the better – but safety is important. Make sure to perform adequate research before beginning this exciting new chapter in your life.