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AYUSH Living & the Vedic Principles of Life
The fundamental principles of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) hinges on the idea of combining the Vedic philosophies and traditional medicines that offer a different way of healthy living that are different from the generally accepted principles of conventional modern science. It lays a strong emphasis on the ancient teachings of the Vedas vis-à-vis Ayurveda, Yoga and other ancient traditional practices associated with health and wellbeing. These teachings include concepts like dinacharya, ritucharya, langhana, Yoga, pranayama, meditation, yoga nidra and a vedic lifestyle. These age-old practices promote the idea that mind and body being inextricably connected, should be tended to holistically for the overall wellbeing of individuals and that we have a life that is in tune with nature. True health and well-being can only be accomplished when one’s mind, body and spirit are in harmony with one’s nature.
AYUSH and Vedic Principles in Theory
Vedic Principles derives most of its ideas on traditional medicine from the ancient practice of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old approach to medicine and way of life that pertains to finding the right balance between human bodies and minds through natural methods. Its origins can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization or even before. It significantly developed during the Vedic period. Remnants of the Vedic lifestyle can be found sprinkled throughout its text.
The practice thrives on the idea that by pursuing a balance of our body and mind, we can optimize our ability to live a balanced life and prosper.
The word Ayur in Ayurveda stands for life, whereas Veda means science or knowledge, thus literally translating to the science of life. Veidic Principles comprises Ayurveda therapies that have evolved over the past two millennia. Some of these therapies include the optimal use of herbal compounds, minerals, and metallic substances.
According to Ayurveda, everything that exists, originated from five elements – Fire, Earth, Water, Air, and Space. When these elements come together, they form the ‘Doshas’. Ayurveda emphasizes the balance of these Doshas. It also prescribes to the notion of not suppressing your natural urges, as according to its ancient text, this suppression is what ultimately leaves the body vulnerable to illnesses.
Components of Vedic Principles
Dinacharya in Ayurveda is a concept that preaches the fundamentals of an ideal daily routine. It focuses on the cycles of nature, and galvanizes its subjects to base their routines around them. It claims that abiding by a well-organized daily routine helps establish balance in doshas, thus understanding it is crucial to the long-term health and wellbeing of human bodies and minds. The routines covered by dinacharya range from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep. Waking time, prayer or meditation, bathing, massage, exercise, ablution, meals, hygiene, study, what you eat and how you eat, work, relaxation and sleep.
Ritucharya is a popular Ayurvedic school of thought that emphasizes the importance of eating seasonally. Ritucharya translates to guidelines for the season, with ‘Ritu’ standing for seasons and ‘charya’ standing for guidelines. These guidelines are basically prescriptions of diet and lifestyle changes (pertaining to detox) that help individuals achieve optimal health and wellbeing.
As the season changes, we see a change in the environment we live in, plants that grow around us like flowering in spring and leaf-shedding in autumn. Animals also hibernate with the coming of winter, and so on. As human beings, we live in the same ecological milieu and the body is greatly influenced by it.
According to Ayurveda, there are three seasons, divided into two periods. The first is Uttarayana aka the cold months, which contain the seasons winter, spring and summer. The other period is called Dakshinayana aka the warm months and contains the seasons monsoon, autumn and late autumn.
Ayurveda dictates specific guidelines pertaining to lifestyle and diet depending on each individual season. It also goes so far as to prescribe treatments that the ancient text believes will be more effective according to the season individuals find themselves in.
Langhana or healthy fasting is recommended in Ayurveda to improve functions of your digestive fire (agni). In absence of food. The Agni also digests un-metabolized systemic toxins (Doshas) and this strategy is adopted as both therapy and prevention. The duration and frequency of fasting depends upon the age, constitution, disease, climate and place of residence.
The practice of Yoga can be traced back to 3000 BCE, and deals with a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices with roots in ancient India. In western civilization, Yoga is mostly defined as a modern form Hatha Yoga, or exercises consisting largely of asanas or postures or flowing movements. In India however, it is considered to be more than just an exercise. It is denoted with a spiritual and meditative core. Breath regulation is an important part of any Yoga practice.
The main goal of Yoga is said to be Moksha, aka liberation. People practicing Yoga do so with the aim of achieving optimal fitness and health by learning physical, breathing, and meditative techniques to have positive control over one’s body and mind.
Pranayama is a concept of Yoga that pertains to the practice of breath control. It basically deals with the synchronization of breath with movements between asanas. Pranayama translates to regulation or lengthening of life, with prana standing for ‘life force’ and ayama standing for ‘to regulate or strengthen.’
According to Ayurveda, the mind can only remain calm and positive if the prana level within individuals is high and flowing constantly. It further claims that a lack of knowledge and control over one’s breath can lead to blockage in one’s nadis (channels in the body) and chakras (focal or energy points).
Several modern researchers have found Pranayama to be a beneficial technique in treating many stress-related disorders.
Meditation is a practice of mindfulness to control one’s thoughts and awareness, all in order to achieve clarity of mind and an emotionally calm state of existence. Meditation in combination with Yoga and pranayama has been prescribed by many Ayurvedic Practitioners to effectively deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and other kinds of mental disorders. Mindfulness meditation, spiritual meditation, focused meditation, movement meditation, mantra meditation and transcendental meditation are all derived from the Vedas with oldest documentation in India between 5000 to 3500 BCE.