Ayurveda 101

Mortar with fresh rosemary and dried spicesI’ve mentioned Ayurveda in a few of my posts and I figure I ought to tell you what the heck I’m even talking about! So I was introduced to Ayurveda (eye-yer-VAY-duh) by the dean of my school a few summers ago. The class I was taking was about spirituality in nursing and the term “Ayurveda” kept coming up so I decided to check it out.

This is the 101 course of what I discovered: The word Ayurveda literally means “science of life” (Ayur=life Veda=science or knowledge). Ayurveda is a 5,000 year old system of healing that originates in India. Tibetan, traditional Chinese and early Greek medicine can all be tied back to Ayurveda.

I was so drawn to this for a couple of reasons: 1) I am currently working in medicine and the idea of an ancient, or original if you will, medicine sounds intriguing because this is where a lot of our current practices stem from, 2) Ayurveda is not only about treating health ailments but also about prevention and 3) This science recognizes that our health is the balanced and dynamic integration between mind, body, spirit and environment.  Well Hotdog! How about that! This is such a refreshing concept from Western medicine that addresses the body mind and spirit as separate parts rather than as a whole.

Ayurveda believes that there are three energies that govern us: earth, wind and fire (do you remember, the 21st night of September?) Okay so not that earth wind and fire ;). Earth (kapha), wind (vatta), fire (pitta) are responsible for the characteristics of the mind and body. These 3 elements are in all of us, just in different levels. These levels are unique to you and it is called your dosha. Although we have all 3 of these elements within us, there are usually 2 that are more dominant. For example: when I took the dosha quiz I found out that I am predominantly kapha with vatta as a close second then pitta was trailing behind. So my dosha is kapha/vatta. There are specific lifestyle habits that each one of these doshas’ possess in order to keep your body and mind in balance-when your dosha is out of balance, disease occurs. Through nutrition, yoga/exercise, meditation, pranayama, and herbs, you can bring the body back to its balanced state.

Does all of this sound wooie wooie? It might sound really strange but trust me-IT WORKS! Once you get past the weird words and weird name, Ayurveda is easy as pie- for me it was a matter of adding cinnamon and ginger to my daily diet, drinking more water and so on. Not so bad right? No! and it’s totally worth looking into in order to feel better and achieve and maintain optimal health! When I slip up and don’t integrate these practices into my daily routine, I can totally feel the difference.

This is barely scratching the surface of all the fabulousness that is Ayurveda…there are so many great resources out there to get you started on your wellness path-heymonicab.com is fantastic and so is chopra.com. Both of these sites offer dosha quizzes and I will leave a link for them below. Take the quiz and see what you’re working with- don’t you want to feel better?! If you have any questions, please fell free to comment!

Peace & doshas, nikki

P.S. For all you yogis out there, Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga 🙂



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