What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, a sister science of yoga, is the ancient system of medicine that originated in India over five thousand years ago. The literal translation of Ayurveda is “the knowledge of life”, which means that this ancient science provides a practical and logical approach to living in harmony with elements of nature. Ayurveda is rapidly gaining in popularity as Westerners become more interested in the body/mind/spirit connection.According to Ayurvedic principles, there are five “elements”. These elements refer to the various states of energy, found in everything, which are:
• earth (solid) • water (fluid) • fire (transformation) • air (gases) • ether (space).
These five elements further combine in specific ways within our bodies to act as three psycho-biological humors or functional principles that are referred to as doshas, namely:
• Vata (ether/ air)
• Pitta (fire/ water)
• Kapha (earth/ water).
In each person these doshas will combine in a unique way to manifest as their psycho-physical constitution. Improper diet, poor lifestyle habits and other factors can cause the doshas to become unbalanced and create disorders. One of the major goals of Ayurveda is to understand the nature of the three doshas and maintain their harmonious interactions in order to restore or maintain the health of individual. Every person is a unique combination of all three doshas, however, each person will have a tendency to one or two predominant doshas.Ayurveda uses many lifestyle management techniques to harmonize the doshas including various forms of ayurvedic massage. Most clients who have experienced a Swedish massage or other form of “western” massage therapy will notice a significant difference in the amount of oil used in ayurvedic massage (abhyanga). This is due to the fact that the oils in addition to dosha-balancing, integrative massage techniques play an important role in the healing and balancing process.
In addition to the use of therapeutic oils, Marma therapy is used during most ayurvedic bodywork sessions. Marmas are special energy centers on the body. Gentle massage of these marma points can influence the functioning of the doshas and assist in restoring balance.
Shirodhara is a profoundly calming form of ayurvedic bodywork. This is the gentle pouring of dosha-specific natural oils over the forehead in a steady stream. This ancient treatment has many positive benefits to the nervous system.