Ayurveda 101: The Indian Science of Life
We’re hearing the word Ayurveda more and more, as Eastern practices are becoming embraced by the Western world. What does Ayurveda really mean? Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine which uses diet, herbal treatment, as well as meditation to create balance in bodily systems. But more than just treating symptoms, Ayurveda is the Indian science of life, and was designed thousands of years ago in India to help the mind and body stay active and vibrant throughout life.
According to Ayurvedic teachings, wellness is achieved through the balance of the body and its systems. The five elements (space, air, fire, water, and earth) manifest in each of us in a different way. These five elements combine to form three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Knowing which of these doshas are dominant in you can help you make specific lifestyle choices to best balance your unique system. However, some basic ways to create balance that everyone can benefit from is through meditation and diet. Meditation and yogic breathing releases neurotransmitters that promote wellbeing, like serotonin and dopamine, while decreasing production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
The Ayurvedic diet includes six tastes: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Every meal should have these six tastes, and should be appropriately prepared and eaten with awareness. Minimizing raw foods, and increasing cooked foods helps reduce strain on the digestive process. Ayurvedic diets are also very colorful, ensuring that all major food groups are represented.
According to Ayurvedic practices, the mind and body are connected. Along with a colorful diet rich in natural foods and plenty of meditation, rest and down time are especially valued. Instead of constantly struggling against the grain, the Ayurvedic approach is to allow ourselves to align the power of nature. So, take it easy and take plenty of time to de-stress and reflect.