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What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an ancient Sanskrit word that means "the science of life". It is a 5000-year-old holistic medical system which uses herbs, oils, procedures and therapies to balance the body. 

Ayurveda is an ancient Sanskrit

It can be used in daily routines and even after a major illness or injury. Ayurveda includes many different complementing therapies such as yoga, breathing exercises and meditation. Ayurveda deals with physical, mental and emotional health as well as relationships with family members and friends.

Ayurveda has been called "the most powerful medicine that any human being on earth has ever discovered" because it works the fastest when combined with our lifestyle choices like diet or exercise. Ayurveda is the complete science of life. This ancient knowledge of the human system has been handed down from generation to generation for over 5000 years. It teaches us how to get in touch with our own body and mind, how to listen to its signals, and how to use this understanding to live a happier and healthier life by creating good habits.

Main Principles of Ayurveda

Everything in nature is made up of five basic elements, or energies: space (ether), air, fire, water, and earth. Because it is made up of these five energies, the body naturally follows certain rules – the laws of nature – that govern what it needs. The main principles of Ayurveda are:

• TATTVA – "Thatness" or the essence of nature itself. In other words, each thing is a unique reflection of the five energies. For example, an orange is a unique combination of space, air, fire, water and earth.

• TRIDOSHA – The three doshas (or energies) in our body: vata (space), pitta (fire) and kapha (water).

These three doshas create a balance in the body by working together like gears in a machine. Each dosha has its own specific qualities and functions. KAPHA, for example, is the foundation of all other doshas, and is responsible for the strength of bones and tissues. VATA governs our metabolism and body fluids, while pitta keeps us warm. When all three doshas are in balance, you feel energized, relaxed and healthy. When one dosha is out of normal range, you may experience an excess or deficiency in another dosha - leading to imbalances throughout your body.

Ayurveda has been practiced worldwide since ancient times but has evolved over time to become what it is today. Ayurveda recognizes that each human being has a unique constitution that has specific needs suited to their lifestyle. It understands that the right food, herbs and lifestyle can cause great healing and health.

Ayurveda can help you live a long and healthy life by working with nature to maintain balance in your body and mind. Ayurveda believes that the spirit is eternal, and it can be cultivated through proper diet, exercise, meditation and yoga.

Ayurveda is a method of healing that takes you beyond the idea of illness or sickness. It is instead a way of living that helps you maintain your body, mind and spirit in harmony with nature. The goal of Ayurveda is to live in balance while improving your lifestyle choices that affect your health. 

The following are some of the key principles of Ayurveda Principles:

 • Detoxification - improving the body's ability to detoxify itself by removing heavy metals and chemicals from the system.

• Detoxifying diets - avoiding foods that create toxins in your system.

• A healthy balance of doshas - balancing vata, pitta and kapha in yourself so that you don't become imbalanced or suffer from any particular dosha.

• Herbal remedies such as homeopathy or Ayurvedic herbal medicines are used to treat people with compatible constitutions (diet, lifestyle and the extent of disease) appropriately.

Ayurvedic diet is based on a balanced intake of food. The three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) are also balanced through a healthy diet. Ayurvedic diets focus on foods that are of their specific dosha. Balancing your diet is vital to maintain good health and to prevent diseases.

Ayurveda encourages the regular use of herbal medicines to maintain optimum health and a healthy immune system. Like any other medicine, herbal medicines have side effects. The choice of herbs used is based on the objectives or symptoms of the patient, as well as their constitution (diet, lifestyle choices and level of disease).

The Ayurvedic perspective on disease is that an imbalance in the natural forces of the body leads to disease. Most life-threatening diseases, according to Ayurveda, are the result of imbalances in one's lifestyle, including diet and nutrition.

Ayurveda is a complete medical system with detailed treatment procedures for both acute and chronic illnesses. It provides techniques for treating surgical conditions including plastic surgery and bone setting. Surgery as a treatment option was not uncommon in ancient India. The specialty of VASTU SHASTRA (a subdivision of Ayurvedic medicine) is responsible for designing complex hospital buildings which facilitate healing by drawing on the powers of nature.

The aim of Ayurveda is to help an individual remain in harmony with the cosmos by perfecting his or her lifestyle. The length of a normal life span varies from person to person; however, it is believed that a healthy lifestyle extends one's life span.

"While modern science knows the body only from the outside, Ayurveda sees it from within." 

- Dr. Anju Bala, Ayurvedic Practitioner

Ayurvedic Approach to Healthcare: 

• Holistic (whole-body) and preventive in nature – studies an individual as a complete part of nature (mind and body) instead of studying particular illnesses or symptoms as independent problems.

• Has no use for antibiotics – believes that a clean and healthy lifestyle is the best way to combat disease.

• Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation by reducing gastrointestinal complaints.

• Treating chronic diseases – prescribes drugs which lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar which in turn reduce inflammation. She focuses her treatment on the most debilitating chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

Ayurvedic Practitioners: 

An Indian Ayurveda Practitioner would be trained after completing a course of education with postgraduate degrees such as MBBS (Ayurvedic Medicine) or MD (Ayurvedic Surgery) from Pune University in Mumbai.

Some of the most well known Indian Ayurvedic practitioners include:

• Dr. Anju Bala, Director, Vienna Ayurvedic Center

• Dr. Raghunath Joglekar, Mumbai Ayurveda, Empowerment Foundation

• Dr. Pankaj Shukla, Director, All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA)

• Dr. Sanjay Sharma, Director, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Institute of Ayurveda  (MMYA)

• Dr. Jitendra Bhandari, Director, Indian Institute of Ayurveda  (IIA)

• Dr. Kaman Singh Chauhan, Director, Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya and Research Center

• Dr. Manisha Kothari, Director International Ayurveda Foundation

• Dr. Anju Bala is a graduate from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India. She trained in both Western and Eastern Medicine and is one of the most well known Indian Ayurvedic practitioners with her own private practice in Vienna, Austria. Her knowledge of both Western and Ayurvedic approaches to medicine gives her a unique point of view on treating disease and maintaining health.

If you want to try Ayurvedic cooking, Dr. Anju Bala has written an excellent cookbook called 'A Taste of India'. Dr. Anju Bala also has a DVD on ayurvedic cooking called "Authentic Ayurveda"

I hope that this article on Ayurveda has been informative and that it gives you an insight into this amazing approach to health and healing. 

Here's a good introductory book on the subject:

Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life . Here's another one:

The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies: A Practical Guide for Health and Longevity .

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