What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda, is the natural healing system of India, its traditional medicine going back to ancient times. The same great Vedic seers and sages that produced India’s original systems of yoga and meditation established Ayurveda as well.

"Ayurveda is a holistic science of health, focusing on maintaining a physically and emotionally balanced state."

Ayurveda originated as part of Vedic Science, an integral spiritual science that provides a comprehensive understanding of the entire universe of matter, mind and consciousness. Vedic Science includes yoga, meditation, mantra and astrology, and sets forth Ayurveda as its special branch for healing both body and mind. On this broad and profound background, Ayurveda includes herbal medicine, bodywork, psychology and spirituality. 

Ayurveda began about 5,000 years ago when Indian monks were looking for new ways to be healthy. Revering their bodies like temples, the monks believed that preserving their health would help them meditate and develop spiritually. Over thousands of years of observations, they gathered all their conclusions and advice and preserved it for future generations. This collection of knowledge came to be known as Ayurveda, the “science or knowledge of life”.

The History Of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is the traditional healing modality of the Vedic culture from India. It is said to be 2000 to 5000 years old, meaning it has stood the test of time. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that literally translates as “the wisdom of life” or “the knowledge of longevity”. In accordance with this definition, Ayurvedic medicine views health as much more than the absence of disease. The wise seers and sages of the time, intuitively understanding the physiology and workings of the mind-body-spirit long before the advents of modern medicine, explained the basic principles of Ayurveda.

Ayurvedic medicine was originally an oral tradition, taught and passed directly from teacher to apprentice, who would learn and work side by side. The oldest written codification of Ayurvedic principles is found in the Rig Veda. The fundamentals are then laid out in several major treatises, including the texts from Charaka, Sushruta, and Vaghbhat. There are also numerous other smaller works, written over time to explain the various branches of Ayurveda, which include disciplines such as general medicine, pediatrics, surgery, toxicology, fertility, and rejuvenation. The beauty in the way these have been explained is that they rely on basic principles which can be applied practically in any day and age.

Ayurveda has thus been passed down through the centuries as a complete healing system, evolving to meet the needs of the time, and yet remaining committed to its core principles. Various cultures have drawn upon the ideas of Ayurvedic medicine, and it continues to thrive in both the East and the West. In India, an Ayurvedic physician must undergo at least a 5 year post-graduate degree program (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery) to become qualified. In the West, Ayurveda is recognized as a Complementary and Alternative Health System by the National Institutes of Health, and is blossoming in various educational institutions.

Ayurveda is a more recent arrival on the Western scene than Yoga, following closely in its footsteps. Up to thirty years ago knowledge of Ayurveda was confined to a small number of people who knew the greater tradition behind Yoga. In the past few years, along with the explosion of interest in alternative and complementary medicines, Ayurveda has gained a growing recognition. It has now emerged as one of the most important systems of mind-body medicine in the world today.

Ayurveda offers a unique system of treatment based upon life-style adjustments. Its profound classification of mind-body types provides a clear assessment of individual constitution and how to treat it holistically. This makes Ayurveda an ideal practice for disease prevention, promotion of longevity, and increasing our creative powers.

How is Ayurveda different from modern medicine?

  • In Ayurveda, every individual is unique and there is no diet or lifestyle routine that works for everyone.
  • Prevention is key. Ayurveda focuses on providing specific advice and guidance on how to maintain physical and emotional health.
  • Food and lifestyle routines are considered the most important medicine. If you come to an Ayurvedic doctor with a complaint, you are more likely to leave with a recipe than with a prescription for pills.