The word Ayurveda originates from the Sanskrit terms ayur (life/long life) and veda (knowledge/spiritual wisdom). Ayurveda is the knowledge of life.
A traditional Indian Medicine, Ayurveda has been in usage for 5000 years and is recognized by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It`s origins are rooted in the sacred Indian texts, the Vedas.
This health system enlightens upon how to restore and maintain an equilibrium between body and mind. To appease symptoms, Ayurveda concentrates itself on the causes of an illness and leans on the doings of nature in order to obtain said result. (« Pains found in the body are pains found in the mind. Thus, one should not heel the body without seeking to heel the mind. » Plato.) The objective is to give back to the body it`s healing capacities by means of :
- Life hygiene (Activities, Schedules and Rhythms) ;
- Nutrition ;
- Bodily care and Ayurvedic massages ;
- Marma therapy (Digipression of Energy points) ;
- Phyto therapy (Infusions, Nutritional Complements, Spices). ;
- Yoga (Breathing, Meditation, Relaxation, Positions) ;
- Other methods of holistic healing.
Life and Thought Hygiene are at the heart of Ayurveda. Our Healing depends on ourselves. « We are made of what we do each day, because our actions determine the contents of our consciousness, as well as the level of our physical energy. » Ayurveda offers theoretical, spiritual and practical ways to reach a certain equilibrium and a state of well-being. In order to obtain the best of results, one has to develop a true responsibility concerning one’s health. Without a routine allowing a better synchronicity within the cosmic rhythm, a state of health and emotional stability cannot be reached. The regularity of meals, schedules, physical activities and discipline favour the balancing of doshas.
Nutrition has an important part to play. « May your ailment be your only medicine. » Hippocrates. Considering ones' Doshic constitution, one must adapt to varied nutritional combinations following tastes that are to ones' convenience (spicy, sweet, salty, acid, stringent, bitter). Every spice and every ailment are used for their therapeutic virtues and ability to purify the mind. The food chosen, the way it is cooked and it's specific preparations are fundamental in Ayurveda. Thus: conserve nothing, accumulate, be in the here and now. It is as crucial to change ones' nutritional behaviour as it is to change the contents of ones' meal.
Ayurvedic treatments and massages both take into consideration a person’s Doshic constitution. The specific oils and techniques are chosen in accord with the person’s needs. According to Ayurveda, Massages are a wholesome treatment whose regular practice maintains or re-establishes an individual’s equilibrium as well as obtaining a physical, mental and emotional well-being. These treatments allow a better flow of our Vital Energy called prana in the subtle and not so subtle aspects of ones' being. In rebalancing ones' vital functions calm returns, sleep improves, tiredness ceases, health replenishes and inner peace sets in to stay.
As a true natural remedy for daily pains, therapeutic massages are recognized for treating :
- Kidney, digestif and respiratory problems ;
- Loss of Mobility ;
- Excess fat like cellulitis ;
- Muscular, articulatory and cardio-vascular illnesses ;
- Sleep and Psychological disorders ;
- Nervousness, crispation and stress phenomena ;
- Back pains, Chronic migraines and painful periods...
|Physical benefits||Emotional benefits|
Marma therapy There are three known levels of energy that unite the mind-body with spiritual-consciousness :
- The chakras, subtle energy centres, located on ethereal pranic body ;
- The nadis, subtle tunnels driving the Chakras' prana (Vital energy) to points of the body and mind ;
- The marmas, subtle intersections of nadis physically located on the body.
Phyto therapy The use of ayurvedic plants or local plants is complementary to life hygiene. This method specifically treats harmed or weakened and unbalanced tissues. Ayurveda adjusts the usage of plants to each individual by distinguishing the person from the illness.
Yoga An Indian atsika Philosophy - along with five other orthodox Philosophies, based upon the Patanjali script – also called Sutra Yoga. The aim is to liberate Life Circles produced by individual karma. The techniques used are Pranayama (Breathing), Yoga Nidra (Deep Relaxation), Dhyana (Meditation) and Asanas (Positions)… The association of Yoga and Ayurveda allows a person to naturally regain a state of harmony and peace.
These procedures collaborate in the cleansing of ones' Organism, thus detoxifying the body and the mind.
Understanding the principles of Ayurveda
At a time when the medical world tends toward traditional medicines, a time when humans of developed countries seek – beyond material comfort – sources of well-being, Ayurveda generates lively interest all around the world.
With its holistic axiom, this health system is built upon the idea that we are a microcosm of the universe. Ayurveda considers the infinitely small to be governed by the same rules and principles as the infinitely big. All is one and we are all. Our body is composed of billions of interdependent cells – in resemblance to universe, cells constituted in a subtle manner by five elements: Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
Three doshas (constitutions), composed of these five elements, can be identified in Ayurveda :
- Vata (Ether + Air) ;
- Pitta (Fire + Water) ;
- Kapha (Water + Earth).
We are all constituted of these three doshas in variable proportion. The variable proportion explains the multiplicity of natural forms. The predominance of a dosha determines the physical, the physiological and the psychological temperament of a person. In relation with our constitution by birth (prakriti), some factors allow us to maintain our good health and happiness, while others tend to unbalance us (vikriti).
The Doshas are biological constitutions that do not give any spiritual indication whatsoever. The Gunas are spiritual qualities that have nothing to do with physiology.
Gunas come as aid when one is seeking to find out how one is. They are qualities that link us to the material world like strings to a puppet. Our actions, thoughts and life-styles determine the influence of this or that string.
One of Yoga's' abilities is to organize the gunas in our life in order to insert our paths into the natural current of universal laws. Although the three gunas are indispensable to life stability, human predestination directs us to purity and mind state elevation. We build a routine in such ways as to be in harmony with nature's cycle. We will give importance to our choices: Food, care, entourage, music and so on…and will watch over our fears and that over what is dear to us. If we stay in the tamasic category – alcohol consumption, meat-eating, slothfulness, ignorance – no spiritual conduct will be efficient. On the other hand, if we tend toward the light, we will attract it's values. Ayurveda is an actual tutor that ensures the development of the sattvic mind.
Ayurveda acknowledges the fact that most aspects of life are not physical ones, and therefore cannot be studied with objectivity. So, one is obliged the approach this science in a more subjective and intuitive fashion.
This path demands discipline and determination. But, it is not recommended to want to change everything at once. Our body like our mind needs time to reset, and it is important to operate these changes as gently as possible.
In India, all the techniques mentioned above are taught in universities. There are Apothecaries, clinics, Ayurvedic centres… In France nevertheless, the practice of Ayurveda is concentrated on the well-being side of things. Inevitably, Ayurveda is not a substitute for going to a GP, a Physiotherapist or to any other health specialist.