by Rhona Sewell
Inspired by the wisdom of nature, Ayurveda is the oldest continuously practiced health care system in the world. The word ‘Ayurveda’ comes from ‘Ayus’, meaning life (mind, body, senses and soul) and ‘Veda’ meaning science or knowledge. We can translate Ayurveda as “Science of Life”. According to this science we are all microcosms of the natural macrocosm. The five great elements found in nature are also found in each of us. We are all unique combinations of Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
Everyone is unique
Ayurvedic medicine recognizes the uniqueness of every individual taking into account psychological, emotional and physical conditions and tendencies. Remember the definition of Ayus is mind, body, senses and soul.
The elements and their qualities are present within each of us, but in different quantities at different times. When in balance, these qualities contribute to our good health. Our health improves when we practice small ‘balancing acts of kindness’.
How do we find balance? Baby steps!
The elemental qualities within each of us are increasing and decreasing with the changes in season, the time of day, and the time of life. The goal is to live in balance with our true nature. According to Ayurvedic principles, like increases like and opposites pacify. We begin by observing the qualities of how we feel. Then we encourage balance by introducing opposite qualities and reducing similar qualities. For example, when we feel cold we increase warmth. In the winter, especially this year, we need to eat more warm food with warming spices, massage with warming oils, wear warm socks and sweaters, cover up during Shivasana, and spend time with warm hearted friends and family. During the cold season we need to decrease our consumption of cold food, eliminate iced drinks, and minimize cold relationships.
Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences.
How do we recognize the more subtle qualities that we are feeling? Yoga to the rescue! Ayurveda is a sister science to yoga. The non-judgemental awareness that we cultivate in our yoga practice is an indispensable tool to support our good health. In order to make choices that will promote balance in our lives we need to observe our own qualities. We observe ourselves feeling cold, heavy, slow, hot, anxious, lethargic, impatient. We learn how to decrease similar qualities and increase opposite qualities. As we stress less, sleep better, manage weight and improve stamina with our Ayurvedic practices we will find ourselves more available to our yoga practice.
Value the small steps.
Each act of self care is truly valuable. If you find you neglected yourself one or two days then just start again tomorrow. In tIme you will establish new habits. No rush. Be kind.
Join Rhona on a journey through the Doshas in the Introduction to Ayurveda workshop on February 28th.