Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical systems on Earth, developed over 5,000 years ago in India. The word Ayurveda is Sanskrit for “the science of life”. The teachings of Ayurveda have been passed down from teacher to student through an extensive oral and written tradition.
While one can study Ayurveda medicine throughout an entire lifetime, the principles behind it are relatively simple. Ayurveda can be practiced by anyone, and can dramatically benefit and change your life.
What is Ayurvedic Medicine?
At its core, Ayurveda is an all-inclusive body of knowledge that works to harmonize the functioning systems of the body. These systems affect our entire experience of ourselves and the world in which we live.
The food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the actions we take are all taken into consideration and combined in such a way as to bring ourselves into homeostasis – that is, a truly balanced state of being. Disbalance potentially leads to unworkable or excessive emotions, physical discomfort, or stagnation.
Ayurvedic theory centers around five elements that form the structure of the universe: space, air, fire, water, and earth. These elements combine and form into the three energies that form our bodies – vata, pitta, and kapha. The language of the elements is used to describe and decipher each of our constitutional tendencies. They are generalized into VPK as a way to categorize our physical, mental, and energetic qualities. Harmonizing ourselves is dependent on the proportion of these dynamic forces (doshas).
· Vata – Vata expresses as the energy of movement in our bodies, and is the interplay of space and air. The beat of our pulse, the breath that fills our lungs, and the blood that rushes through our veins all fall under the realm of vata. It is often represented by the season of autumn. A person with a disbalance of vata might experience sleepless nights, anxiety, and forgetfulness. The seven characteristic qualities of vata are: cold, light, irregular, mobile, rarefied, dry, and rough.
· Pitta – Pitta expresses as the energy of transformation in our bodies, and is the interplay of both fire and water. To power our bodies, we must eat and drink – pitta is the enzymes that transform distributes the nutrients locked within food and water, and the hormones that regulate our bodies. It is associated with the summer. An excess of pitta can sometimes lead to ulcers, acne, anger, and irritability. The predominant qualities of pitta are: hot, fluid, light, subtle, sharp, acrid, soft, and clear.
· Kapha – Kapha expresses as the balance of water and earth. It is the foundational aspect that holds our bodies together. Our bodies are mostly composed out of water, yet we are solid things woven together out of muscle, bone, and skin. Kapha keeps our joints limber and our bones strong with lubrication. It is associated with the spring. An excess of kapha can lead to depression, overeating, excessive sleep, and languidness. The predominant traits of kapha are: oily, cold, heavy, stable, dense, and smooth.
Ayurvedic medicine is the practice of balancing these five elements through diet, exercise, herbal remedies, and altered lifestyle practices.
How Ayurvedic Medicine Works
Western medicine treats illness in the body through a symptomatic approach: you have a headache, and you take a pill. Ayurvedic treatments focus on the root causes that trigger these ailments.
Whether or not you choose to embrace ayurvedic medicine, our lives are in a constant state of fluctuation that may be harmonized by the foundations of Ayurveda. We often don’t get enough sleep or eat a good breakfast, and many of us keep ourselves stimulated on caffeine throughout the day. We might drink too much alcohol on the weekends, or work ourselves into a state of exhaustion. After all this, we might take a brief vacation, binge-watch television or take a spa day in the hopes that it might briefly restore our vitality. Our culture is built out of extremes, and as a result, we may find ourselves more stressed and exhausted than ever.
Ayurveda is the philosophy and practice of balance and equilibrium. It is an understanding and acceptance of the fact that our actions have consequences, and that all of the energy we spend must be restored for us to thrive. Ayurvedic practitioners often combine herbal remedies, meditation, yoga, and diet to support this balancing process. They work to guide us home to ourselves.
Ayurveda is an invitation to start living your best life – you don’t need to fly thousands of miles or buy expensive guidebooks to begin practicing it. It begins with your next breath, listening to yourself, and being receptive to the natural world and all that she has to teach.
Approaching Ayurveda Through Aromatherapy and Herbal Remedies
If you’re looking to lead a more balanced lifestyle, start by focusing on the areas of your life that are most misaligned with what your body is trying to tell you. Eating seasonally and practicing yoga or meditation can offer great benefits.
Consider poor sleep habits. You can choose to treat sleepless nights with caffeine in the morning, but nothing can beat a good night of rest paired with relaxing aromas to lull you into sweet dreams. Use pure, all-natural skincare toners and serums that change with the seasons to antidote the excesses of those seasons. Embracing the power of herbal botanicals is a direct approach to living a well-rounded and intentional life.
Luna Delgado has spent her entire life studying Ayurveda, and has become a scholar of herbal medicines, serums, and ointments using ancient ingredients designed to treat the dissonances and disbalances that we see every day. Combined with a practice of better living, her topicals can help you achieve your goals for better living.