Ayurveda: The Mother of Natural Healing Traditions
Ayurveda is one of the oldest systems of healing on the planet. It is widely considered to be the mother of all of the world’s healing traditions, including naturopathy, acupuncture, traditional chinese medicine, chiropractic medicine and aromatherapy.
Ayurveda originated in India over 5,000 years ago, and is still broadly practiced across the world today. In modern times, interest in ayurveda is living a kind of renaissance, (together with hatha yoga, it’s sister science), as more people seek to understand how to live in ways which promote harmony, wisdom and longevity.
What is Ayurveda?
The word ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit words ayu- meaning “life”; and –vedas meaning “wisdom”. In essence, ayurveda teaches us how to live in alignment with the natural world and with our own inner wisdom.
Ayurveda’s primary healing methods use a combination of herbalism, dietary recommendations and lifestyle practices to support total health. This may include, for example, breathing exercises, meditation, hatha yoga, essential oils or daily self-massage.
While ayurveda can be used to treat and heal many modern ailments, it can also be used as preventative medicine, and to promote a calm, clear mind, physical strength, resilience to stress and natural states of joy.
The System of the 3 Doshas
One aspects that makes ayurveda unique among healing modalities is its recognition that no two individuals are alike.
Ayurveda recognizes 3 primary mind-body types (called dosha):
Vata dosha, a combination of Air and Ether
The vata type is known to be fast-moving, creative and intuitive. They tend to thin bodies, dry skin and are active and erratic with their movements. In balance, the vata type is naturally creative, adaptable, communicative and inspiring. When out of balance, they can suffer from anxiety, scattered thinking, digestive issues, constipation or insomnia.
Pitta dosha, a combination of fire and water
The pitta type is known to be driven, performance-oriented and natural leaders. Pittas tend to have medium builds, freckles and balanced body-weight. In balance, the pitta-type is bright, intelligent and able to lead others to action. When out of balance, they tend to be controlling and domineering, and may suffer from headaches, ulcers, skin erruptions (e.g. acne, eczema) or the inability to stop working.
Kapha dosha, a combination of earth and water
The kapha type are known to be slow-moving, stable, calm, patient and loving. They tend to have larger builds, nice curves and large, watery eyes. In balance, the kapha type is nourishing, supportive, reliable and has strong immunity and endurance. When out of balance, they can suffer from weight gain, lethargy, depression, diabetes or an unwillingness to change.
It’s natural to find that you are 1, 2 or a combination of all 3 types.
Learning to work with the strengths and weaknesses of your dosha is one of the main medicines of ayurveda.
Understanding your dosha also allows you to choose specific remedies (e.g. herbs, foods, exercise, lifestyle practices) to bring yourself into greater balance, and to treat common modern ailments such as stress, anxiety, depression, digestive issues, eating disorders, acne and insomnia.
Ayurveda in Spiritual Awakening
For thousands of years, ayurveda has served as a platform for mystics, sages and yogis seeking deeper levels of connection with the natural world.
Beyond healing, ayurveda offers us a wealth of expertise on how to select herbs, foods and lifestyle practices which enhance clarity, compassion and subtle perception.
When used in collaboration with meditation and satsang (the company of the wise), ayurveda makes for an ideal platform for those seeking self-realization.
Learn to Use Ayurveda for Natural Healing
I am also available for free ayurvedic self-assessment.
About the Author
Briya Freeman has been teaching courses in meditation and natural healing since 2011, including The Bloom Project, an online course for women in natural self-healing and radiant living.
Briya is a long-term student of Berdhanya Swami Tierra, a female mystic and shaman of South American origin. She also holds studies in ayurveda at Anjali School of Ayurveda (Kerala, India) and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Ottawa.