It’s been millennium’s worth of progress that has finally pushed humanity into an age of modern medicine that relishes in finding respite from diseases that were once considered formidable. We’ve come so far in accomplishing a world where smallpox is extinct, malaria can be cured, and people can live normal prolonged lives with conditions like HIV, all thanks to the miracle of modern science.
However, we didn’t just land in this glorious era of advanced medicine in a heartbeat. We settled on it through years upon years of study and evolution in medicine. As such, the world owes an integral part of our current advent into medicine to the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda.
What is 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 totally natural methods. The practice thrives on the idea that by pursuing a balance of our body and mind, we can optimize the human ability to survive and prosper.
The word Ayur in Ayurveda stands for life, whereas Veda means science or knowledge, thus literally meaning the science of life.
According to Ayurveda, everything that exists, originated from five elements – Fire, Earth, Water, Air, and Space. The entire Universe and the Human Body are made up of these five elements. When these elements come together, they form the ‘Doshas’ or enegies within our bodies. There are three salient forms of Doshas;
- Vata Dosha
- Pitta Dosha
- Kapha Dosha
Vata is the subtle energy associated with movement, Pitta expresses as the body’s metabolic system and Kapha is the energy that forms the body’s structure and lubrication.
Health is a state of balance and disease is a state of imbalance. Our body, mind and consciousness work together in maintaining this balance or homeostasis. In the body there is constant interaction between order and disorder – imbalance or disease is disorder and balance or health is order.
Ayurveda believes that the mind and body are connected and that the mind holds the power to heal and transform your body. The merits of this principles can be attributed to the persisting benefits of meditation. For example: while your body meditates, it experiences a state of awareness and peace that clears the mind, and in the process refreshes your body.
To better explain the skeptics reading this; when your body slides into a state of heightened awareness via meditation, both your heart rate and breathing slow down. This ultimately results in a decrease in the production of stress hormones like cortisol while simultaneously boosting the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.
Meditation is just one of the many effective and powerful tools that Ancient Ayurveda preaches. There are many other aspects to this practice that have made Ayurveda relevant even today where many ancient practices have become obsolete.
So without much further ado, let’s dive into these aspects to understand the mystery behind Ayurveda’s relevance today.
Ayurveda and Food
‘You are what you eat’, you must have heard of this proverb before. Ayurveda practitioners stress on the importance of the food we consume, and how it impacts our overall health for better or worse. Eating is the most fundamental part of every living beings’ existence. It is essential for the nourishment of our mind and body. Ayurveda in its teachings, claims that a simple way to ensure your body gets all the nutrition it requires is by including the six Ayurvedic tastes in your daily diet.
These tastes include sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent. Having all of these tastes combined in your diet ensures that your diet consists of all the major nutrition and food groups needed for your body to thrive. With all your tastes satiated, you will no longer have the urge to overeat or munch on unhealthy food products.
Ayurveda and Nature
Ayurveda promotes a positive relationship between man and the nature surrounding him. Ayurveda encourages us to live in tune with the nature that nurtures us. It teaches how to strike a balance between what you need and what you desire. When you are in sync with nature, you are rewarding your body with adequate sleep, nutritious food, and treat yourself with positive aroma, touch, and sight.
When you are not in tune with nature is when your body slips into a sedentary lifestyle plagued with junk food, listlessness, and inadequate sleep. Therefore as Ayurveda states, our salvation lies in us becoming one with nature.
Ayurveda and Physical Exercise
The modern hustle and bustle of life has given many of us an excuse to avoid treating our bodies to some much needed physical exertion. Ayurveda presents a fascinating message about our body’s need for exercise. It claims that the body has a way to communicate through signals of distress and comfort. It teaches us to identify these rhythms of comfort and discomfort in our bodies. It galvanizes you to take notice of signs that signal pain or discomfort and make a choice to alleviate that pain.
Ayurveda and Rest
Sleep is an essential part of our daily human routine, just next to eating and breathing. Sleep is the time our body requires to rejuvenate and repair itself. A disruption of sleep, which is quite common in the current generation today, is the disruption of the body’s ability to recuperate. This can ultimately result in the deprecation of the body’s immune system.
At least six to eight hours of natural sleep is required to maintain our immunity and youthful energy. A vigorous self is a testament of good sleep whereas a listless feeling can be attributed to lack of proper sleep. Ayurveda teaches you to identify these signals and work on drifting off to sleep without the help of alcohol or over-the-counter medicines.
Ayurveda is here to Stay
Ayurveda has been tried and tested to deliver amazing results pertaining to a holistic approach to human health. By helping you understand the relationship between the mind and body, it strives to make you come to terms with who you are, and what your role is with respect to the nature that surrounds you.
It looks at several aspects of life to bring balance by dictating what you eat, how you eat, and understanding the signals your body gives you to make positive changes in your life. Ayurveda or the knowledge of science understands how the body and mind can be bought into harmony to achieve ultimate happiness in life, and it is this knowledge of peace and health that it imparts beautifully on us as well.