The word Ayurveda itself means something in Sanskrit similar to “lifespan build on knowledge” or “science of life.”
The primary goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to help people live long, healthy and balanced lives without the need for prescription drugs, complicated surgeries or suffering through painful conditions.
Although people living in India have relied on traditional Ayurvedic medicine practices for centuries to heal everything from infertility to digestive issues, luckily in recent years – as complementary and alternative health practices have become more and more popular across the world – Ayurveda has been enjoying a major worldwide resurgence and is still practiced effectively today.
What Is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old natural healing system. First originating in the Vedic culture of India. Ayurvedic medicine is based on the premise that there are three doshas (energies): Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are often referred to as ‘Ayurvedic body types’ and determined by individuals body composition, metabolism and digestion, among other factors.
Another core belief of Ayurveda is that disease and illness originate from an imbalance in the three energies and a disconnect from nature.
What are the benefits of Ayurvedic treatment?
According to many university studies Ayurvedic treatments and an appropriate Ayurvedic diet can help treat inflammatory, hormonal, digestive and autoimmune conditions, including sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression.
Ayurvedic herbs, practices and recommendations, including yoga and/or meditation, have also been shown to be helpful as a home remedy for acne, relieving chronic constipation or IBS, fighting chronic fatigue syndrome, reducing pain and lowering obesity risk.
How Does Ayurveda Work?
One of the core principles of Ayurveda, and what makes it stand apart from western medicine, is that it considers bio-individuality and a patient’s entire body-mind-spirit connection. Rather than treating symptoms with drugs and ignoring the underlying problems, Ayurvedic medicine aims to look at the root of disease and how it’s related to a person’s thoughts, beliefs and lifestyle — in other words, a person’s “vital energy.”
What is especially of interest is the power of the mind and its connection to the body. Studies have acknowledged the power of the mind and its connection to the body. New health models are beginning to focus more on including the mind and its interaction with the body as a primary device to curing diseases.
We know that chronic stress can ruin your quality of life and that lower stress levels are correlated with better health, longevity, weight management and overall happiness.
A healthier diet, natural herbs, better sleep and relaxation, Ayurvedic massage, yoga, hormonal balance all play a role in healing with Ayurvedic medicine. YogaVeda UK offers individually tailored advice and will create you a unique blend of personalised tools to specifically suit your needs to pave the way to a healthier and more balanced way of life.
The 3 Doshas of Ayurvedic Medicine
YogaVeda UK practitioners use a well-balanced healthy diet, lifestyle changes, stress relief and various herbal remedies to heal all sorts of conditions by helping to bring the body back into balance.
The overall belief is that disease and suffering results from an imbalance in the three doshas, which are ways of categorising the body’s three basic energy types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, everyone is unique in terms of his or her individual balance between these three energy (or personality) types. Everyone has some Vata, Pitta and Kapha to their personality, but usually one or two of the doshas are more dominant in a particular person — and this ultimately governs body type, appetite, energy levels, moods and tendencies.
Each dosha has both physical and emotional characteristics, so YogaVeda practitioners use the three doshas to describe common traits of someone’s body type and personality.
Unlike the one-size-fits-all approach to Western medical treatment, that fails to address the huge diversity among patients, Ayurveda takes into account individuality when prescribing holistic treatments.
The Ayurvedic practices aim to maintain the Dosha equilibrium … therapy is customised to the individual’s constitution (known as Prakriti) and current imbalance (known as Vikruti).
What are the three Ayurvedic body types?
- Vata — Vata energy is often said to be like the wind. It’s primarily in charge of mobility, motion, circulation, breathing and other essential body functions. Vata types are known to be creative and energetic when they’re in balance but fearful, stressed and “scatter-brained” when they’re not. Physically, Vata types are usually on the thin side, have smaller bones and tend not to put on weight easily. They also might be cold a lot of the time, have a delicate digestive system and have dry, sensitive skin.
- Pitta — Pitta is the energy force that governs most metabolic activity, including digestion, absorption of nutrients, body temperature and energy expenditure. Pitta types tend to be smart, hard-working and driven (even competitive) when in balance but can be overly angry and aggressive when they’re not. They tend to have a medium build, be athletic and are versatile in terms of putting on weight or muscle.
- Kapha — Kapha controls growth in the body and is considered the nourishing dosha. It supplies moisture to the cells and organs and helps keep a strong immune system. Kaphas are known for being grounded, supportive, loving and forgiving when in balance — almost like a motherly type. However, they can also be lazy, insecure, envious and sad when they’re not in balance.
Find your body type using our smart dosha tool!
By helping to balance the three doshas — not letting one type become overly dominant and another to become ignored — handling stress, following a healthy diet, dealing with change and maintaining relationships are all expected to be easier.
Two of the most important aspects of restoring balance of the doshas in Ayurveda are:
- Tuning in to the natural rhythms of your body.
- And also bringing your lifestyle into sync with nature and its cyclical patterns. This includes lining up your activity level, food choices, sleep and so on with the time of day, seasons and for women even their menstrual cycles.
- Ayurveda can help ease stress and restore a healthy circadian rhythm in this way, which benefits everything from your hormones to appetite.
In order to help rebalance your doshas a Yoga Veda practitioner will take your medical history, check your vital signs like your pulse and reflexes, examine your skin, look inside your mouth at your gums and tongue, and speak to you about your sleep and relationships.
All of these factors help the practitioner first determine your primary dosha, then figure out which aspects of the doshas might be out of balance (Vikruti) — for example, if you’re overworking, under-sleeping or not consuming enough nutrients.
Benefits of Ayurveda
1. Helps Lower Stress and Anxiety
Because stress is related to nearly every aspect of overall health, a Yoga Veda UK practitioner might utilise a number of different techniques to naturally treat anxiety and depression symptoms, lower cortisol and rebalance the body’s hormones or “energy.” This can include meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, diet, herbal treatments, skin brushing, visualisation or repeating inspirational mantras.
Studies have found that meditation, a component of one branch of Ayurveda called Maharishi, helps lower symptoms of anxiety with regular practice. Pranayama, a series of various targeted breathing exercises, also helps calm nerves and results in better energy, restful sleep and improved hormonal function. And while yoga isn’t always necessarily included in someone’s recovery plan, it, too, offers well-documented benefits for reducing stress and anxiety.
Over the past several decades, efforts have been underway to help find non-pharmacologic therapies to relieve stress and anxiety. Ayurveda and yoga (Yoga Veda) has been shown to be a simple, low-cost and effective option for many people. Yoga Veda UK works on gaining biochemical and physiological improvements in various markers of stress and anxiety.
Research shows that regular yoga practice can improve autonomic nervous functions by triggering neuro-hormonal mechanisms and suppressing sympathetic activity, or the body’s “fight or flight” response. Several reports even suggest that yoga is beneficial for physical health of cancer patients and can effectively fight free radical damage.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Why is Ayurveda effective for lowering risk factors for heart disease? Studies have shown that Ayurveda diets and relaxation techniques can lower hypertension, inflammation and help reduce plaque build-up, even reversing the thickening of artery walls known as atherosclerosis in both healthy adults and those with a higher risk for heart disease. Ayurvedic diets also includes plenty of foods that support heart health, such as vegetables, legumes, herbs and spices.
Atherosclerosis is a slow, complex disease in which cholesterol, fats and other substances build up in the inner lining of an artery. This build up, known as plaque, can lead to heart attack and stroke. Ayurvedic techniques lower cholesterol naturally and naturally lower blood pressure.
3. Helps with Recovery from Injuries and Illnesses
Research supports the idea of the Ayurvedic concept of immune-modulation and healing. By targeting inflammation, which is the root of most diseases, Ayurvedic medicine — along with Ayurveda yoga and Ayurveda massage — can help lower pain and swelling, improve blood flow and fight inflammatory conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia just as well as medication.
Ayurveda is also especially helpful in detoxing the body using various herbs, teas, healthy foods and plenty of rest. Certain practices also increase circulation and liver function — for example, Abhyanga is the practice of rubbing the skin with herbal or essential oils to increase blood flow and help draw toxins out of the body through the skin. YogaVeda UK practitioners might also prescribe various herbs that help lower cortisol such as holy basil (tulsi) or ashwagandha.
4. Promotes a Nutrient-Dense, Antioxidant-Rich Diet
Ayurvedic medicine promotes a mostly plant-based diet filled with a variety of real, whole foods. While each person’s diet depends on body type and needs, Ayurvedic diets for the three different dosha types all include various fresh herbs, spices, teas, vegetables, healthy fats, high-antioxidant foods and protein.
General dietary guidelines of Ayurveda emphasise consuming fresh, hot and easy-to-digest foods, while taking into account several variations that depend on someone’s ancestry, customs and traditions. For example, Yoga Veda UK practitioners consider social, geographic and climatic variables when prescribing a diet to balance the doshas.
5.Help with Weight Loss or Maintenance
While fast weight loss isn’t necessarily the primary goal, Ayurvedic medicine can help someone shed excess weight naturally using a healthy diet, stress reduction and even essential oils for weight loss.
Adjusting someone’s diet to take into account nutritional value, tastes and individual food preferences helps participants lose weight effectively.
Because Ayurveda promotes compliance and believes that a diet should be balanced, practical and easy to follow.
6. Lowers Inflammation
Ayurvedic medicine rests on the assumption that a combination of a poor diet, bad digestion, not enough rest or sleep and insufficient air (vaayu) inhaled cause oxidative stress and inflammation. This results in an imbalance in metabolism — or in other words — in the three doshas.
The focus of Ayurvedic healing looks at using various ways of reducing inflammation with hopes of regulating the heart and circulatory system, digestive tract and the means of elimination of wastes. People are prescribed a combination of herbal treatments, antioxidants to reduce free radicals, exercise that is gentle but boosts metabolism and circulation and a combination of various biologically active compounds found naturally, in plants. By addressing many factors including stress, individual food intolerances, overstimulation and a lack of nutrients, many people experience lower levels of inflammation and increased energy and healing.
7. Help with Hormonal Balance
Many people turn to Ayurveda to balance hormones naturally, conceive and have a healthy, natural pregnancy or menstrual cycle. Studies have even shown that various therapeutic effects of Ayurveda have been effective in helping to treat sub-fertility due to PCOS, a common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age, resulting from insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances.
- Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Indian medical system that is based on natural and holistic approaches to promoting physical and mental health.
- Ayurveda takes into account bio-individuality and a patient’s entire body-mind-spirit connection. According to Ayurvedic medicine, everyone is unique in terms of his or her individual balance between three energy (or personality) types called doshas.
- Ayurvedic practitioners use a well-balanced healthy diet, lifestyle changes, stress relief and various herbal remedies to heal all sorts of conditions by helping to bring the body back into balance.
- Ayurvedic medicine is used to treat conditions and symptoms such as arthritis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune conditions, anxiety or depression, allergies, fatigue, high blood pressure or cholesterol, skin conditions, and many others.