Ayurveda comes from India and is the science of life ( Ayur=life, Veda=science or knowledge ). Long connected with the practice of Yoga, a sister science, it was left behind when Yoga came to the United States. Lately, the interest in this ancient wisdom is making a strong comeback and you should know why.
We have spent the last few months speaking with Ayurvedic health professionals, researchers, doctors, educators and practitioners to help you make sense of this practice and see if it rings true to you.
If you have ever heard the words in Sanskrit: Vata, Pitta, Kappa, Dinacharya, Panchakarma, you may be totally confused and put off by what appears to be something complex. Perhaps you are slightly comfortable with Yoga terms, such as Asana, Savasana and Viparita Karani? If not, no worries. You do not need to learn Sanskrit nor start to love curries. Let us break this down for you briefly.
We were naturally confused as well, but during our interviews, we found some guides to help us make sense of all of this.
I asked, Diana Lurie, a neuroscience researcher why she found Ayurveda making sense to her western science mind : “ I discovered that Ayurveda is based on the Doshas. To me as a scientist, this concept really appealed to me because it means that the whole treatment foundation in Ayurveda is based on the genetics of an individual’s physiology and psychology. This made perfect sense! Of course you would treat an individual based on their own genetics! And indeed, as we see today, the field of medicine is moving towards personalized medicine with genetic testing becoming increasingly important in guiding treatment therapies.” read full article here.
This concept of Doshas helps to identify your uniqueness. There are a number of online tools that you can use to figure out your Dosha type. Now keep in mind, these tools will help you roughly. A trained Ayurveda professional can help you refine that understanding. For example: Are you thin and lanky? Is your skin rough and dry? Do you enjoy cold weather? These and many more questions will help evaluate your own personal body, mind and spirit make up. I say these are a good starting point for healthy people. If you are suffering from any chronic illnesses, cancer, heart disease or more, seek the advice of a professional before attempting to self-treat. Dr. Sandra Canzone, D.O.M a specialist in using Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine in her practice, explains that due to the fact that we are unique individuals, the subtle nuances of who we are is not as simple as ‘Finding your Dosha”. Again, the concept of considering who you are, as an individual is the heart of Ayurveda. A good online tool to start is found here.
Ayurveda needs to meet you where you are, not the other way around. You need to tune in to your own self and own your health and wellbeing. Here is a great article about “Practical Ayurveda: Meet Yourself Where You Are” courtesy of vpk by Maharishi Ayurveda. After all, we need to live in this world as we are. We have jobs and many roles in life as students, mothers, wives We cannot suddenly live in a yoga studio, start eating tofu curries and meditate the day away. (although it may sound nice).
A foundational concept in Ayurveda is the idea of a strong daily routine. This practice is known as- (ah, yes, here is a Sanskrit word ) : Dinacharya. This word literally means, “Dina or daily” and “ charya or routine”. Kathyrn Templeton, psychotherapist and Ayurvedic Faculty at The Himalayan Institute, explains the concept in this video.
This so makes sense. Your morning routine may look like this: wake up, take a shower, dress, go downstairs, make coffee, eat breakfast and head out for your busy work day. Ayurveda encourages us to do some self care, some self-love in the morning, before the busyness of the day begins, to invest a bit of time to take care of ourselves. Now, you may say that this all seems like way too much to do before you leave the house. Way too much with the kids getting up for school. Way too much. But ask yourself: What do I invest in? It’s that old cosmetic commercial line “But, I’m worth it” If you are always tired, stressed out and cannot cram another hour in the day and the thought of getting up earlier to do more things makes you sick, well, think again.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Claudia Welch in this video:
She has written the book : “Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life” Dr. Welch has some every day tips about breast health, decision fatigue and learning to make small changes that bring great rewards. It’s a fun and honest interview with sounds of frogs and flying giant mosquitos in the background! You may want to throw your underwire bra out the window after seeing this. Beware!
So, what happens if you have a serious illness, perhaps cancer. Can Ayurveda help? We spoke with Dr. Lina Thakar, Ayurveda Integrative Wellness Institute, Pittsburgh, PA. Classically trained in India, Dr. Thakar works with several hospitals’ integrative cancer centers as a preferred provider. She develops a care plan that is tailored to each client (remember the concept of Dosha?). The program “has a multi-dimensional approach for cleansing physical, mental, and emotional toxins and for providing anabolic remedies for depletion due to the cancer itself and as a result of conventional cancer treatments. Mostly Ayurveda program includes natural organic diet, meditation practices along with gentle and healing body treatments performed with nourishing oils. The deep healing specialized program called Panchakarma, which includes body treatments with organic oils that is customized for nourishing and nurturing the client and is very closely monitored…. Thus the body’s self-healing process may be initiated.” Keep in mind, she works WITH the conventional cancer protocols.
We consider her work with these hospitals a model for how integrative cancer care can work and worthy of further exploration. “Ayurveda is a lifestyle. It considers health beyond just the physical approach by addressing emotional patterns as well which are significant, especially for women’s health. It guides the way to live happily and peacefully and puts one on the path to vibrant health. It offers natural, organic, preventive and holistic healing as well as a spiritual path of life. Ayurveda is not only a science of life. It is also a science of longevity.” Full article.
Fortunately, there is a serious rise in the interest of Ayurveda. There are some cautions: “Although Ayurveda is not a licensed medicine in the U.S., it is an accepted form of complementary and alternative medicine practiced in many states. Due to its unlicensed status and increasing popularity, Ayurveda currently exists in a ‘wild west’ environment when it comes to seeking qualified care.”
The National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) is the largest professional organization in the United States working to develop educational standards and practice scopes. It can be rather confusing to find a qualified professional. Combined with a lack of licensure in the United States and the fact that many qualified health professionals may come from India (where they may have attended accredited medial schools and have 6 or more years of training and clinical practice, thereby are VERY qualified, but not recognized professionally in the States), what can you do?
NAMA has developed some guidelines to help us with this-here are some categories they have identified: Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Ayurvedic Doctor. Read the full article, by Tricia Sletten, NAMA’s Communications Manager. NAMA has an online tool to find qualified Ayurvedic professionals as do we at 4wholeness.com. Remember, everyone on our site has passed a comprehensive review of credentials.
Ayurveda Lifestyle -what does that look like? There are a number of, what we would consider, Ayurveda lifestyle ambassadors. One such person is Claire Ragozzino of Vidya. Claire has been practicing Yoga for many years and offers guidance, recipes and coaching, deeply rooted in Ayurveda. Her training has been extensive with Yoga and Ayurvedic teachers while she was in India and the United States. She is an inspiring woman who embodies Ayurveda and, by her living example, demonstrates how you can have a busy life while being grounded and balanced.
Check out her web page: www.Vidyacleanse.com She has a number of recipes on our site here, with more coming . Check out this video she made for her Seasonal Kitchen series, and you will understand more about ‘lifestyle’ from this video presentation.
So, what is our recommendation? We feel that you should at least check out Ayurveda for yourself. We have begun to change some habits ourselves and continue to provide our adult children with some new insights (no, no lectures, just sharing what we continue to find out that is useful). We will continue to grow the information at 4wholensss.com, provide links to quality Ayurvedic professionals in your area and product recommendations that may support your journey as well.
At 60, change is not always easy. So we start in small ways, slowly figuring it all out. We hope you find this useful.
Article courtesy of 4wholeness.com. 4wholeness.com provides education and resources surrounding integrative care. Every article, comment, recipe, video and recommended product has been curated with love.
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