Ayurveda helps me to stay on track

Ayurveda

Ayurveda, as translated from Sanskrit, means the “science of life”. It is the ancient Indian health system, which is deeply rooted in the Indian culture. Its principle is built on the knowledge that the right diet and behaviour, in harmony with the elements of medicine, have a healing effect on people. During my trip through Asia, I integrated Ayurveda as a pillar for me, which helps me to stay in balance and harmony with myself, despite the instability of being out and about.

Ayurveda has always fascinated me. Especially, of course, since I explored the world of yoga more intensely during my India trip.

Ayurveda sees the person in all of his/her aspects. Body, spirit and soul are not considered as divided entities but
as directly correlated to each other, mutually influencing each other. A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. Or, to put it another way: a healthy body needs a healthy mind.

In Sanskrit, “Ayu” means science and “Veda” means life, therefore “the science of life”. It not only offers a wide range of herbs, massage therapies and other treatment methods but, in particular, the three-dosha theory.

“Three-dosha” describes three different constitutions, or rather temperaments, which form the starting point of the Ayurvedic teachings: vata/ air, pitta/ fire and kapha/earth.

As in Ayurveda the body and the spirit are seen as not divided, the human being is naturally also not seen as separated from his/her surroundings. All elements which are found in our world are also found in the human body. We are all influenced by these elements and can learn to harmonise them with each other.

A healthy, totally balanced person would combine these three temperaments and elements (doshas) to the same extent. But this so-called “three-dosha balanced” person exists in our world only very rarely. Most of us have one or two key elements and a lack of another one. For example, those who are dominated by the vata dosha, the element air, are therefore physically and mentally rather easy and unsteady and, according to Ayurveda, need an appropriately balanced diet.

Ayurveda sees the correct diet as medicine and assumes that we should consume the opposite of our dominant body construction. Earthing food is necessary if one already carries a lot of air within and light, purifying food is important if one carries much kapha, the earthing and heavy element.

In many cases we are defined by two doshas, which, for example, implies combinations of vata and pitta or pitta and kapha. Regarding diet, account should be taken of the dosha which has lost its balance.

Since I started my one-month Ayurveda-course with a doctor of my choice last year, again and again I have tried and experimented with my dosha constitution. What kind of food is best suited to my vata/pitta dosha? What should I exclude, and what should I include? Ayurveda and a trained doctor or therapist can provide detailed instructions. But ultimately, these should rather be regarded as a recommendation, because:

Ayurveda is not a rigorous and strict concept. It tolerates the person as an individual and knows that learning and transformation processes are very time-consuming.

People who travel are often very vulnerable as regards an out-of-balance vata dosha. For travelling is like the wind: unsteady, always on the move and often inspired into all directions. Of course the external environment and also our behaviour play an important role in Ayurveda. For the human is not only a structure which solely functions for itself, but also a part of its environment.

If you have found out which constitution type you are, it is easier to behave accordingly in certain situations. It helps you to know what to you should avoid and what you should stress more. But you should of course especially rely on your positive qualities, your strengths and reinforce and foster these.

In the case of an imbalance, which can, in the long run, lead to illness, there are special herbs and treatment methods which are used in Ayurveda. When my vata (air) element, due to travelling, lost its balance last year I used the offer of a Shirodhara therapy. Shirodhara is a forehead drip treatment with oil, which is drizzled onto the forehead in a soothing manner, while lying and relaxing on a massage bench for 30 to 60 minutes. For me, the mediative effect was remarkable and made me really relax.

For me, Ayurveda has become a point of orientation regarding my diet and behaviour, which is necessary for me when I travel the world and lose my earthing balance faster. But I do not make use of all of the points recommended for me all the time, I rather see all of this as a positive inspiration and guideline.

In addition, the traditional Indian concept of Ayurveda is heavily based on the consumption of dairy products, as every family in India always has a house cow, which provides milk. But as I personally, especially due to ethical reasons, like to live vegan, some of the recommended food of Ayurveda is unsuitable for me. It is also important to consider that the Ayurvedic health system was written when today’s factory farming and dairy products did not exist. And I ask myself if Charaka, the “Father of Ayurveda”, would still emphasise the importance of this if he knew how our dairy products are gained nowadays.

Therefore it is perfectly acceptable to include parts of Ayurveda in our own life and to exclude some due to personal reasons.

Next to yoga and meditation, Ayurveda has become an anchor point for me while traveling, which helps me to stay in balance with myself or to return to the path if I have drifted a little. But I especially learn how to live my life – without a permanent home – in total harmony, by recognising the needs of my body and mind. This is a learning process and slowly and steadily you learn to better understand and listen to the quiet voice which comes from within. I am still learning, but I am on the right path.

Credits

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Ayurveda Ayurveda Lisa-Maria Dau CC BY-SA 4.0