WHAT IS AYURVEDA?
The name “Ayurveda” is derived from two words in Sanskrit, “ayuh” meaning “life” or “longevity” and “veda” meaning “science” or “sacred knowledge.” Ayurveda’s definition therefore roughly translates as “the science of longevity” or “the sacred knowledge of life.” It is an all encompassing holistic approach that incorporates the mind, body, and spirit into the process of health, healing and finding balance.
OK, SO NOW WHAT?
It can be really intimidating to begin learning and walking a new path. A lot of times we are scared to take that first step, feeling overwhelmed, uncertain and sometimes a little doubtful. I felt many of those feelings as I walked into my first Ayurvedic Workshop. Ayurveda is an expansive and beautiful ocean, but like the ocean it can feel vast and intimidating.
Yes, there are new words and terms. Yes, you may have to challenge your current ways of thinking. And yes, you will be utterly amazed by the simple, practical and accessible tools that Ayurveda offers for understanding your mind, body and spirit. Suddenly all of those little things about yourself that you either noticed or didn’t notice begin to make a bit more sense.
My teacher Dr. Lad always reminded us that we were not learning Ayurveda, but that we were simply remembering it.
We were coming home to the knowledge that lived within our hearts and at the center of every cell within our being. And even after studying for a few years now, I still have those moments of awe where something clicks and I begin to understand myself and my body a bit better. Ayurveda offers you the tools to begin to listen and hear the messages from your system, and decode them in a way that not only makes sense, but also has advice for what steps to take next in order to achieve balance and harmony.
Ayurveda understands that each person has a unique body/mind system and as a result, each person’s path toward optimal health is unique. Ayurveda highlights the importance of our diet, lifestyle, plant medicine and living in accordance with the season to maintain homeostasis and a rich and liberated life. It helps individuals to curate the types of lifestyle, food, colors, aromas, sounds, yoga and touch therapy that will create a state of balance and harmony at all levels.
Ayurveda is not simply about taking an herbal formula and waiting for the results. Instead, Ayurveda encourages you to be an active participant in your own journey toward healing. When the body and mind are in harmony, optimal physiology is experienced, healing takes place, and our natural freedom is accessed.
At its root, Ayurveda is a holistic tradition and way of living that can help each of us to claim and celebrate our capacity for wellness. Ayurveda can help us:
- Align with our truest inner nature
- Honor and develop our strengths
- Hone in on our challenge areas
- Recognize harmful habits and tendencies
- Maintain balance in the face of challenge
Remember, Ayurveda is not a medicine of absolutes…
It is more a set of practical guidelines that invites you to witness the qualities of things and balance those qualities with opposites when needed. This is what makes it so empowering! You can always be part of your own balance and healing!
Beginning to observe your environment from this qualitative perspective empowers you to respond to both daily and seasonal fluctuations in your local climate. The truth is that many of us adopt seasonally appropriate habits already, without even being conscious of doing so. We have this knowledge stored within us because we are a part of nature. There is a way of life which is inherent to our true human nature. It is a life lived in harmony with nature’s rhythms; those of the sun, the moon, and the seasons; and one that honors our own unique reflection of the nature around us.
Learning Ayurveda is being reborn into a way of being that is intimately connected to the elements, the seasons, Nature, the planets, plants, and all beings.
Ayurveda is learning to live in a deeply connected way to the processes occurring within and around us at every moment. Ayurveda simply reminds us of what we already know, but have perhaps forgotten. It points us towards our inherent freedom and all of the ways we can live more in accordance with the natural rhythms of life. Ayurveda returns us to Nature. It returns us to our nature. Coming to the knowledge of Ayurveda is a rediscovery of the self and a remembering of our innate ability to care for and heal ourselves. It is a coming home.
Writing compliments of
Blog Contributor, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Ayurdoula
Leigh’s work is characterized by a mission to share an integrative approach to health by empowering individuals to be part of their healing and wellness journey. Leigh holds a bachelor’s degree in both Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Colorado. In 2016 she received her 250-YTT at the White Lotus Foundation under the tutelage and mentorship of Ganga White and Tracey Rich. Shortly after, she moved to New Mexico and spent two years studying Ayurveda with Dr. Vasant Lad at the Ayurvedic Institute and is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (CAP). She continued her journey to India with Dr. Lad and assisted as a Pancha Karma therapist at the Vasanta Institute of Ayurveda. She is a certified doula for postpartum care through the works of Ysha Oakes and the Center for Sacred Window Studies. She has studied women’s hormonal health under the guidance of Dr. Claudia Welch and uses an integration of Ayurvedic medicine and Western traditions. She is currently studying to become a clinical herbalist at the Herbal Academy.