In this post, we reveal everything you need to know about Ayurveda. This is the most complete guide to the subject on the internet. Let's dive in!
It was Hippocrates who first suggested that food should be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food. You see, Hippocrates believed in the natural healing forces within every human being on the planet; he believed in Ayurveda. If you’re new to Ayurveda, consider this the tip of the iceberg, or simply the entrance to the rabbit hole, in which a whole world of ancient wisdom and healing awaits.
In this article we discuss the following:
- What is Ayurveda?
- Being Ayurvedic
- The History of Ayurveda
- The Body Types of Ayurveda and Understanding Doshas
- Ayurveda Dosha Quiz
- How to Balance Your Dosha
- Ayurvedic Diet
- Ayurveda and Weight Loss
- The Importance of Ayurvedic Medicines
- What Ayurvedic Institutions are Out There?
- Ayurvedic Herbs
- How to do an Ayurvedic Cleanse
- Different Ayurvedic Oils
- Different Ayurvedic Treatments from Practitioners
- What is Ayurvedic Massage Therapy
- Ayurvedic Yoga
- Ayurvedic Soaps
- Finding Ayurveda Near Me
- The Disadvantages of Ayurvedic Medicine
- Ayurvedic Books You Need to Know About
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is likely the oldest known medical institution on the face of the Earth. It is said that the Ancient Indians, or rishis, received the knowledge that was required to carry out Ayurvedic healing from their Hindu gods roughly 5000 years ago.
This knowledge was recorded in the form of sacred texts, also known as Vedas, which contain in-depth descriptions of how to achieve and maintain a balanced, healthy life.
In Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda actually means ‘The Science of Life’, and those who have dedicated time to uncovering its secrets tend to fondly refer to it as “the mother of all healing”. The original Vedas were documented in Sanskrit, which was the language of Ancient India.
The Ancient Indians dedicated their lives to uncovering and understanding the secrets of the universe. All knowledge was passed down through generations spanning thousands of years, and Ayurveda was among them.
First things first: one needs to know how to properly pronounce the word if one has any hope of incorporating its teachings into daily life. Ayurveda is pronounced eye - uhh - vay - dah or a - err- vay - dah. Both are correct. Practice saying it out loud until it becomes as familiar as the rest of your vocabulary.
A simplified description of Ayurveda would be the promotion of balance between the human body, the human mind and the human spirit. The teachings prescribe a detailed eating plan, including exactly when and what to eat in order to obtain optimum health benefits.
Diet aside, Ayurveda is also extremely concerned with sound body and mind state. It believes that true healing and good health requires more than just physical wellness, and that the mind plays an integral part in the process.
What Does Being Ayurvedic Entail?
A lot of people already live within the Ayurvedic structure without necessarily realizing it. It is only when they discover the existence of the practice, and dive deeper, that they realize that they were being somewhat Ayurvedic all along, as their existing beliefs are totally in alignment with the practice itself. This is similar to what many people’s first encounters with Buddhism are.
In short, being Ayurvedic simply means that you believe and understand that true health & wellness depends entirely on a delicate balance between the human mind, body and spirit. When one of these is out of alignment, true wellness cannot be attained.
When choosing to adopt the Ayurvedic way of life, one is essentially committing to using a detailed outline of ancient wisdom as an everyday practice in order to prolong or prevent any states of illness from entering the body; this includes physical, mental and energetic illnesses.
Similar to how a nutritionist would prescribe an eating plan, Ayurveda prescribes a diet alongside the practice of emotionally stimulating activities including things like Ayurvedic yoga, Ayurvedic massage and even bathing with Ayurvedic soaps.
A lot of people ask “do I have to be currently ill in order to receive the benefits of Ayurveda?” The answer is no, you do not. In fact, it is always the right time to become Ayurvedic, healthy or not, as this ancient program contains powerful preventative elements that can shift one off of the path where future illness awaits. Another great way to think of Ayurveda is to think of it as the most powerful daily vitamin on the planet.
The daily vitamin analogy is a poignant one, because it addresses another common misconception about the practice: that being Ayurvedic requires a vast amount of energy and time in order to maintain as a daily practice. This is misleading and simply not true. Shubhra Krishan, the author of Essential Ayurveda, reduces the entire concept of Ayurveda into the following two steps: doing less, and being more.
If wellness has been a practice, or at very least an interest, of yours for some time now, then incorporating Ayurvedic techniques into your daily routine will likely require little more than some minor adjustments here and there.
If you are totally new to the wellness world, and Ayurveda is where you are choosing to start, then you’ve made your way straight to the culmination of possibly every significant manifestation of wellness available on planet Earth — well done! Becoming Ayurvedic is going to require a bit of reading, a bit of pondering and a few adjustments to your existing daily routine, but, in due time, you’ll resonate powerfully with Krishan’s notion of doing very little, while being a lot more.
The History of Ayurveda
In the aforementioned paragraphs we touched on the fact that Ayurveda is one of the oldest known medical institutions on planet Earth. This gives the teachings a depth and a history that few of us are able to comprehend using linear thinking.
Historians estimate that Ayurveda came about sometime during 6000 BCE, or ‘before the common era’. Since the knowledge of the practice was handed down to the people from the gods, it is thought that it derived directly from the Hindu god Brahma, but, before the knowledge could be anchored to Earth’s people, it had to be passed down through a multitude of different gods, who would eventually gift the knowledge to their devoted sages.
The Mahabharata is a Sanskrit epic that narrates the story of Ancient India. Dhanvantari, the Hindu god of medicine, was one of the many incarnations of Vishnu. The scripture states that Vishnu commissioned Dhanvantari as a portal through which to help and guide humanity in curing diseases.
The people of Ancient India, the rishis, were devoted to understanding the universal secrets that were supposedly being passed down from the gods above. They dedicated centuries to exploring the teachings surrounding every subject, and passed on what they knew, & what they suspected, to their successors using oral traditions. It was only in 700 BCE that the existing rishis began putting pen to paper, and recording their findings once and for all — this is how we got the Vedas.
It comes as no surprise that the Vedas are the world’s oldest known forms of literature, far older than the Bible or even the Mesopotamian scriptures. The records discovered by the ancient sages are held within the Vedas, and can be directly translated from Sanskrit into English (or any other language).
The complete set of Vedas is comprised of four different books: the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda. It is in the fourth, and youngest, book that we find the comprehensive breakdown of India’s ancient medical practices, the essence of Ayurveda.
It was after the Vedic period when Ayurveda became a distinct science of its own; something that could be identified as independent from the rest of the Vedas. The complete Ayurvedic text emerged as two halves of one book, the Great Three Classics Of Ayurveda and the Lesser Three Classics Of Ayurveda.
The Great Three Classics Of Ayurveda is concerned with the diagnosis and prevention of illness within the body, the medicinal value of 10,000 different plants, the practice of Ayurvedic surgery, and internal medicines.
The Lesser Three Classics Of Ayurveda is concerned with the importance of monitoring the human pulse, pharmacological formulations, toxicology, and diseases involving women & children.
Together they form a structured, and balanced, approach to holistic healing as a human navigating the Earth’s complex terrain. Nature is a very prevalent component to all sections of Ayurvedic healing, and is thought to be a vital tool should one ever wish to reach their prime health state.
Ayurveda Body Types
Proper identification and understanding of one’s body type is an integral part of obtaining a successful Ayurvedic state. If you don’t know your body type, you can’t know your optimum health potential either.
Within Ayurveda there are three main bodily categories, also known as the dosha. Dosha can be defined as energies that work together to create each individual’s bodily makeup, and each dosha has unique, defining characteristics that make it easily identifiable.
The three dosha are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Ayurveda believes that humans are made of a combination of all three dosha energies at once, but the strength of each will fluctuate with one’s environment, thoughts, diet and even with the seasons.
Once you isolate your most prevalent dosha, you’ll know your Ayurvedic body type at this point in time, and your journey toward wellness can begin. Without knowledge of your personal dosha compound, you won’t be able to incorporate Ayurveda into your daily life in its most beneficial way.
Vata Body Type
A Vata body type is governed by the energy of space and air, or, in other words, the energy of movement.
As a result of these energies, Vata bodied people tend to be thin and boney. They find it difficult or impossible to gain weight as a result of their incredibly fast metabolisms. It is not unlikely for a Vata bodied person to have suffered from low muscle tone as a child, and to still have very little muscle tone as an adult.
The Vata body type is prone to feeling cold, often, and their hair and skin is prone to being dry. They might prefer living in a warmer climate because of this. In cold conditions, Vatas tend to struggle with poor circulation through their fingers and toes, resulting in pain or discomfort.
They also usually have very fast, but very weak pulses. Like their pulses, Vata people’s sleeping schedules are often irregular and erratic, and their slumber tends to be light so they are prone to disorders like insomnia. They are energetic people who find it difficult to sit still.
The sexual, eating and personal habits of Vata bodied individuals are usually also irregular, ranging from one extreme to the next. They might find themselves hungry at unexpected times of the day, as though the body is disinterested in any societal norms when it comes to suitable dining times.
You’ll find that they are talkative, and often rush to get words out. In spite of this, Vata people are not actually confident, but usually quite shy or modest.
Vatas are fast learners, but usually have poor retention skills so they lose their accumulated knowledge as easily as they obtained it. In addition to this, Vatas are usually drawn to creativity and non-conformance. Unfamiliar situations can ignite strong feelings of stress or worry from these individuals, but their adaptability is quick and they are very flexible to most of life’s challenges.
Always on the move, Vata people love to travel and go on adventures — particularly to places where there is a lot of sunshine. Vatas are also likely to rise with the sun each morning, which again attributes to the fact that their sleep is light enough to allow such a ritual.
Pitta Body Type
Pitta body types are governed by fire energy, also known as the energy of digestion and metabolism.
If you think of the qualities of fire as an element, you might think of its heat, its sharpness or its agitated nature. Similarly, Pitta bodied individuals tend to radiate heat and are physically warm to the touch. They find themselves in bursts of agitation when experiencing misalignment, and they are known for their sharp, penetrative ideas that stem from insatiable intelligence.
Physically, Pitta people are usually medium sized in build, both in physical frame and eye size. Their faces usually feature sharp noses, moles and freckles, and less wrinkles than the aforementioned body type. Their hair is likely silky to the touch, and the follicles excrete oils often.
Pittas are known for their big appetites and incredible digestion. They like their food in abundance, and crave hot spices to match their warm internal temperature. In cold climates, their hands and feet stay warm without much effort, and their bodies perspire with little stimulus. As a result, Pitta people tend to prefer less outdoor and physical work, and as little sunlight as possible.
Like fire, Pitta people can become easily agitated which sends them into a seemingly uncontrollable spiral of anger or jealousy. They are natural leaders who very much enjoy gaining in material wealth, and enjoy showcasing that wealth even more. They speak with conviction, confidence and volume.
Also like fire, Pitta bodied individuals are prone to fever-like symptoms and inflammatory diseases. Ulcers and sore throats are also common ailments.
Since Pitta bodies are so concerned with excesses of heat, oils, mobility, light and liquids, any appearance of excess of these in the outside world tends to send the individual into a spiral of agitation. Pittas like to experience heat in moderation, light in moderation, natural oils in moderation etc. Heat induced mood swings are very common.
Kapha Body Type
The third and final Ayurvedic body type, Kapha, is ruled by the energies of earth and water. This is the energetic body of extreme lubrication.
Kaphas are known for their balanced and grounded natures. They possess undeniable qualities of stamina and endurance, while also juggling genuinely sweet dispositions.
Naturally big bodied, Kaphas usually detest exercise but also find it incredibly easy to gain weight due to their slow metabolisms. They excrete feces at a slow pace and their stool tends to be soft and pale in color.
Kaphas are known for loving their deep, prolonged sleep patterns. They find it hard to tear themselves from their slumber, and sunrise has little to no effect on their will to rise. This can lead to intense, regular feelings of lethargy, and can lead to imbalance and in turn greed, possessiveness and unhealthy attachment. Sluggishness is also a common experience for this body type.
Kaphas usually like to have stable incomes and tend to hold onto their money with a tight grip; this makes them excellent providers for others. These individuals are also wonderful romantic partners to get involved with as they tend to value sentimentality and forgiveness.
Kaphas are likely to experience issues with water retention, diabetes, and mucous related illnesses such as flu and chronic sinus conditions.
Vata-Pitta Body Type
Often, people will read the breakdowns of the three doshas and find it difficult to assimilate themselves to just one.
There are instances where certain bodies find themselves in a balanced between-state of both the Vata and Pitta energies. These are easily referred to as Vata-Pitta bodies, which essentially means that a fusion of both doshas is dominant within one human body, almost as though combining forces.
The dosha combination can feature any of the aforementioned characteristics from both Vata and Pitta, or manifest as a more balanced rendition of both characteristics combined. For example, Vata bodies tend to be narrow and boney, while Pitta bodies are medium sized and strong. A Vata-Pitta body is likely to be medium in stature, but lean in overall appearance.
Vata-Pitta individuals are highly prone to digestive disorders. They might find they battle with constipation or diarrhea as a result of lactose foods. They probably often experience heartburn and bloating, as well as migraines and sleep disorders.
Vata-Pitta people will often be interpreted as extreme or erratic. They are intensely creative and full of bright ideas, so they might hop between jobs and goals without ever mastering just one.
Pitta-Kapha Body Type
In a similar fashion, the Pitta and Kapha energies can also find themselves rendezvousing dominantly within a single human frame.
Pitta is a strongly willed source of energy, and goes through life with something to prove. Kapha, on the contrary, enjoys putting its feet up for some well deserved rest and relaxation. When the two unite, the result can be quite sedative and grounding for the individual in question.
A Pitta-Kapha might know exactly what they want and how they intend to achieve it, but they are also able to identify opportunities for valuable breaks when they need it most. Because the Pitta-Kapha body type is so resilient, it tends to not harbor any significant illnesses before the age of 50 years old.
As a result of this, Pitta-Kaphas are usually reckless with their health and wellness, as they are rarely presented with any reason to be otherwise. Too little exercise, too much sleep, and overindulgence in unhealthy foods is a ticking time bomb for these individuals.
Since Kapha types tend to instinctively cling to things, there is a lot of toxin retention that takes place when fuzed with the Pitta energy. Prolonged ailments such as skin diseases, obesity and blood pressure problems are common within this body type.
Ayurveda Dosha Quiz
Reading the characteristic breakdowns for each of the dosha is rarely enough to make a diagnosis of one's body type. All people will relate, in some way, to all three dosha, but the primordial notion is that there will always be a dominant one in each and every individual. It is this one that needs to be identified and brought back into balance.
An Ayurvedic quiz is a quick and easy way of obtaining a better understanding of one’s dominant dosha, without having to consult with a professional practitioner to do so. There are a plethoras of online quizzes available to people around the world, all of which tend to ask the exact same things, just in different ways.
The following quiz will help you gain better insight into which particular dosha may be out of balance within your own body. Answer each question by selecting the answer that resonates most with your inner truth — you’ll know when you read it.
At the end of the quiz, tally together the number of ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’ answers you selected.
Mostly ‘a’s: You are likely a Vata dosha
Mostly ‘b’s: You are likely a Pitta dosha
Mostly ‘c’s: You are likely a Kapha dosha
Even mix of ‘a’s and ‘b’s: You are likely a Vata-Pitta dosha
Even mix of ‘b’s and ‘c’s: You are likely a Pitta-Kapha dosha
Which of the following descriptions best describes your physical frame:
Which of the following descriptions best describes your weight:
Which of the following descriptions best describes your eyes:
Which of the following descriptions best describes your skin and complexion:
Which of the following descriptions best describes your hair:
Which of the following descriptions best describes your joints:
Which of the following descriptions best describes your patterns of sleep:
Which of the following descriptions best describes the temperature of your body:
Which of the following descriptions best describes your temperament:
Which of the following descriptions best describes how you experience stress:
How To Balance Doshas
Once you have successfully classified yourself as one particular dosha body over the others, you can begin exploring the ways in which to keep that dosha in balance.
Balancing your dosha body is the first step in Ayurvedic wellness, and gets you on the right track for the rest of the practices you will likely adopt in everyday life. If your dosha is out of balance, you are essentially seeking reasonable ways of pacifying it until the awareness of the imbalance fades out so much so that the dosha in question naturally realigns with the subtler energies of the other two.
It’s a process that is better experienced as opposed to verbally understood. Here are some of the most effective ways of balancing each of the misaligned dosha:
Balancing the Vata Body
The Vata body is strongly rooted in freedom and movement. When it is out of balance, the Vata body will experience issues related to movement of bowels, regular sleep, bodily circulation and appetite.
While Vatas love the idea of variety and freedom, they usually fail to acknowledge that they are unable to enjoy said variety if it is not held together by some sort of stable routine. This is where a lot of imbalance within the dosha is encountered, and learning that variety can exist within routine is of great benefit.
When balancing a Vata body, it is recommended that the individual:
- Learn to sleep before 10pm, and arise before the sun without using an alarm
- Adopt the daily practice of transcendental meditation
- Follow a suitable Vata-pacifying diet
- Moderate strain exercise: walking in nature or yogic practices are recommended
- Find herbal based worry/stress relief tables for daily use
- Drink more warm beverages
Balancing the Pitta Body
The Pitta body represents metabolism and regulation. Any imbalance is likely to manifest outwardly as excessive heat and acidity within the body, and as a result symptoms such as fever, rashes, acid reflux and inflammation can reveal themselves.
Since Pitta people are also so deeply rooted in competition and ambition, their need to constantly be improving their exterior world can sometimes cause immense internal imbalance.
When balancing a Pitta body, it is recommended that the individual:
- Learn to sleep before 10pm, and arise before the sun without using an alarm
- Practice not taking themselves too seriously
- Take precautionary measures so as not to strain the eyes with excessive computer or television light (invest in blue light glasses if needed)
- Make time to play and connect with children
- Adopt the daily practice of transcendental meditation
- Follow a suitable Pitta-pacifying diet
- Avoid the midday sun
- Increase consumption of cool beverages, but never iced
Balancing the Kapha Body
Kaphas are naturally structured beings when it comes to energy, and as a result they are slow, and usually resistant, to change. When out of balance, this characteristic of the Kapha can show itself in various forms of bodily stagnation, namely obesity, depression, lethargy, and congestion of the respiratory system.
In direct opposition to stagnation, Kaphas need movement and activity in order to remain a balanced body.
When balancing a Kapha body, it is recommended that the individual:
- Take a brisk walk each morning during or just after sunrise
- Incorporate more hot drinks into their daily routine
- Start each morning with half a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of honey
- Make time for rigorous daily exercise
- Practice waking at 6am each morning, without using an alarm
- Adopt the daily practice of transcendental meditation
- Follow a suitable Kapha-pacifying diet
The Ayurvedic Diet
Diet is the most important component of the Ayurvedic way of life. Without it, you can essentially kiss the possibility of attaining long term wellness goodbye. This is because the core of Ayurveda is rooted in the power of digestion, also known as Agni.
The rishis defined Agni as the body’s capacity to digest and absorb food. It is the energy that rules the gut; an energy that comes and goes with varied strength throughout the day. Some have naturally better Agni than others, but all can achieve Agni perfection (or close to it) with the right diet.
Since Agni fluctuates, Ayurvedic diets recommend specific time slots throughout the day during which eating is deemed most effective. For example, Agni wakes in the morning and then sets with the sun, so eating a heavy meal after sundown means digestion is likely to be a struggle.
Ayurveda calls for the heaviest meal of the day to be one’s lunch. A nutritious plate of food between 10am and 2pm means Agni is at its peak, and wholesome digestion can take place without any risk of gut discomfort or gas production.
Tips for balancing the Agni energy through diet:
- Always be seated and relaxed when engaging with a meal
- Avoid cold drinks with meals; all beverages should be taken at room temperature
- Try to eat dinner before 6pm
- Do not lay down after a heavy meal as this puts pressure on your digestive system
- An early dinner and late breakfast gives the body time to fast overnight, which is naturally beneficial
- Drink copper infused water
Your dominant dosha, or body type, comes back into play when it comes to the Ayurvedic way of eating. There are certain foods that Pittas need, for example, that Kaphas simply do not, and vice versa.
Since the Vata body tends to be often cold and dry, it favors foods that bring balance to these characteristics. Warm foods packed with nourishment, and delivered in a moderately heavy texture, are great for Vata energy stabilization. Think creamy soups and hearty stews, accompanied by fresh baked bread where possible. Warm drinks are also recommended, such as herbal teas throughout the day, or hot water with lemon regularly.
Vatas are encouraged to avoid cold foods such as salads, raw vegetables and all drinks containing ice. Caffeine is also largely incompatible with Vata energy.
Foods to embrace:
- Cooked vegetables
- Well-ripened fruits (avoid dried fruits)
- Oats and cooked rice
- Chicken and seafood (Vatas should avoid red meat)
- All dairy is suitable for Vata energy
- Eat beans in moderation
- Eat nuts and seeds in moderation
- Turmeric in moderation. Be scarce with spices and herbs wherever possible.
Pitta bodies tend to have a naturally balanced amount of Agni already present within their digestive habits. The fiery nature of this dosha translates directly into heartier appetites with less risk of indigestion.
As a result, Pittas can usually get away with eating just about anything without seeing any short term side effects as a result of their diets. It is usually only much later in life when Pitta people start to experience the effects of years of consuming too much salt, or general overeating.
Since Pittas are hot headed at the best of times, their ideal diet should incorporate a balance of cool to warm foods — never steaming hot! In the peak of summer, Pittas should make an effort to consume as many cold meals as possible, focusing on salads, cereals, and even ice cream.
Pittas do well as vegetarian eaters, as the fire elements present in meat and dairy simply flares up their dosha imbalance. Similarly, vinegar should be avoided and lemon juice used wherever sour flavors are desired. Fried food is also not recommended for Pittas as they tend to have enough oils in the body as it is.
Foods to embrace:
- Egg whites (avoid yolks)
- Sweet and bitter vegetables
- Eat chilis in moderation
- Sweet and well-ripened fruits
- Basmati rice or barley
- Olive oil and grape-seed oil
- All beans
- Gentle spices and herbs
The Kapha energy is the heavier of the three dosha; one that stores fluids and fats far more easily than the Vata or Pitta.
The heavy, watery nature of Kapha makes it the perfect recipient of dry, raw and light foods. Raw fruits and vegetables as often as possible will bring Kapha right back into balance. In the winter time, Kaphas can benefit greatly from spicy cuisines such as Indian, Thai or Mexican.
If food is to be cooked, Kaphas should do so using a dry method such as baking or grilling, as opposed to steaming, boiling or deep frying.
Kaphas needs to be wary of how much fat is in the foods that they consume. Anything too rich or sweet should be avoided. Salty foods are not recommended either, as they lead directly to further water retention.
Foods to embrace:
- Any and all vegetables, lightly cooked or raw
- All fruits
- All grains aside from rice and wheat
- All dairy (avoid eggs)
- Meats in moderation
- All beans
- All dried fruits, nuts and seeds
- All herbs and spices
What is Kitchari?
Kitchari is a dish that has made its way into the diets of almost all Ayurvedic households around the world. This is a dish with strong detoxifying properties that are said to bring all three dosha into balance at once.
Kitchari is seen as a more gentle alternative to modern food based cleanses, as it is served warm, cooked and flavorful, yet it retains the power to pull toxins from deep within the body.
The key with kitchari is to adjust the recipe to incorporate whatever seasonal vegetables you have available to you. It’s important that your ingredients match the natural progression of the seasons, as this is integral in syncing the body with the ebb and flow of nature.
A proper kitchari cleanse calls for the individual in question to consume kitchari for lunch and dinner, consecutively for a week. Most people choose to do a kitchari cleanse during the Autumn season, as this is when the Agni energy is universally more responsive to warm, cooked meals.
Ayurvedic Kitchari Recipe
- 4 cups of water
- 2 cubes of vegetable bouillon/ paste
- 2 cups of organic mung beans
- 1 cup of organic barley
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped and not peeled
- 1 medium carrot, chopped and not peeled
- 1 small burdock root, chopped
- 4 cloves
- 1 stick of kombu
- 1 inch peeled and chopped ginger
- 2 generous tbs of ghee
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
- 1 tsp of turmeric
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- Coriander and avocado slices to garnish
- Soak the mung beans and barley in water overnight.
- Sauté the cumin seeds in the ghee in a large pot for about two minutes
- Toss the cinnamon, turmeric, kombu, mung beans, cloves, barley, bouillon and ginger into the pot. Coat in the ghee mixture.
- Add salt to taste.
- Pour in the water and cook at low heat for 40 minutes.
- Add in the chopped vegetables and any others you have around the house. Do not peel vegetables.
- Simmer until all vegetables are cooked through.
- Garnish and serve.
Other Ayurvedic Recipes
In addition to kitchari, there are a multitude of other great Ayurvedic recipes that you should know about. Here are two that are popular and delicious:
Ayurvedic Falafel Recipe
- 1 cup of mung beans
- 2 cubes of vegetable bouillon/paste
- 1 chopped onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- salt to taste
- 3 tbs of potato starch (optional)
- 1/2 cup of coriander
- 1/2 cup of parsley
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1tsp turmeric
- 1tsp red pepper flakes
- Soak the mung beans overnight in water
- Pressure cook your mung beans until soft (but never mushy)
- Add all of the listed ingredients (except for potato starch) into a food processor and mix well
- Use the potato starch to form the mixture into balls
- Set into the fridge for 40 minutes to firm
- Remove from fridge and gently squash each ball into a patty
- Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry each falafel evenly on either side
Ayurvedic Dhal Recipe
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of red lentils (pre-soaked)
- 2 onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3tsb of coconut milk
- 1tsp of coconut oil
- 1tsp of turmeric
- 1tsp of salt
- 1tsp of chili
- 2 curry leaves
- 1tsp of cinnamon
- Cook the red lentils in boiling water along with the salt and turmeric
- Once soft, add the coconut milk into the mix
- Fry all remaining ingredients in a pan using the coconut oil
- Serve on top of the soft dhal with rice or Indian flatbread
Using Ayurveda for Weight Loss
Ayurveda was never initially intended to be a weight loss program, but dropping a pant size seems to be a natural occurrence when one is finally able to bring their three dosha into full alignment. This is particularly true for Kapha-dominant people who find it easy to gain, and hard to lose, weight. Since Ayurveda promotes better digestion, it makes sense that gradual weight loss would follow.
There are also some herbal remedies that form part of the ancient Ayurvedic tradition. Some of these have shown tremendous success in facilitating the loss of weight in humans. There are 3 main concoctions that you need to know about:
When used strategically, Guggul can be a great aid in weight loss. This is a resin found in the bark of the Mukul myrrh tree that is native to India.
Guggul’s active ingredients have the power to break down human fat cells; this process can be witnessed by simply observing it through a microscope. That being said, Guggul can only affect preexisting fat cells, and does not contribute in aiding the body to stop producing fat as a long term solution.
Triphala is made by combining three of India’s most notorious superfoods: bibhitaki, haritaki, and the traditional Indian gooseberry.
This mixture of Ayurvedic plants is able to significantly reduce the blood glucose levels of individuals suffering from diabetes. As a result, people are naturally able to lose a few kilograms, and keep them off.
Black Cumin Seed
The teachings of Ayurveda boast the healing powers of the black cumin seed. While there are no formal studies on this at present, many people around the world swear by the fact that regular consumption of the seeds helped them to slowly move further away from obesity.
Each Ayurvedic practitioner will have his or her own way of approaching the subject of weight loss. Other common herbs used by these advocates include the following:
- Fresh aloe vera
- Fresh pepper
- Ginger combined with garlic and lemon
- Ajowan caraway seeds
- Lemon and honey water
Given the age of these teachings, Ayurvedic medicines have had to fight in order to maintain relevance amongst Western medical culture. What is the difference between them, you might ask? Essentially, Ayurvedic medicines make use of substances that occur naturally within the Earth, while Western techniques tend to be on the synthetic, chemical side.
Ayurvedic medicine makes sense if you consider the notion that, as human beings, we are simply extensions of nature, and so nature is where we should look when we need healing.
Ayurvedic doctors help bridge the gap between the patient and the ancient healing teachings available in the Vedas. They will likely help you identify your dominant dosha, outline a diet that will bring the most benefit to said dosha, and then prescribe a series of Ayurvedic medicines to assist with any existing conditions that are present in the body as a result of so much time spent in imbalance.
The biggest benefit of Ayurvedic medicine is that there are almost no severe risks involved in the use of it. Unlike with Western pharmaceuticals, Ayurvedic medicines are natural and of the Earth. They will likely either work, or they won’t; but you will rarely find yourself drowning in harmful side effects as a result of chemical destruction happening within the body.
What’s more, Ayurvedic medicines are more likely to target the root cause of illness, rather than just cleverly alleviating symptoms so that one is tricked into thinking that healing has taken place.
Within the Great Three Classics Of Ayurveda we find the ancient Sanskrit book of Sushruta Samhita. This was the original Ayurvedic text concerned with surgery and medicines, and is largely regarded as one of the most important pieces of literature to have survived the ancient world.
While navigating the modern market of Ayurvedic healing tools, you are likely to find a variety of self-proclaimed Ayurvedic pills being sold by natural-medicine manufacturers. The ancient Indians did not have pill making facilities, so there are no official Ayurvedic pills to be found, but the ones we see today are simply herbal mixes divided into capsules, that claim to achieve the benefits associated with the herbs in question.
For example, Ashwagandha is a root with powerful healing properties that dates back to ancient Indian times. It is a key component in Ayurvedic medicine, specifically for people with thyroid problems. A daily dose of Ashwagandha root is easy to find in pill form these days, at just about any wellness retailer.
That’s the beauty of Ayurvedic medicine. It’s available to anyone with a mere interest in it, it’s mostly safe to self-prescribe, and, in comparison to Western alternatives, it is largely inexpensive.
Ayurvedic medicine is not the only medical institution that believes in the presence of energetic balance within the body.
Unani medicine was what brought Hippocrates to Ayurveda. This was the alternative medicine of the Ancient Greeks, which would later make its way to India, where it remains a respected and widely practiced form of healing.
Unani medicine believes that the human body can be broken up into the four elements: earth, water, air and fire. Each element holds a unique temperature: cold, wet, hot, and dry. The practice sees the healthy body as a balanced ecosystem in which all elements need to be working in harmony.
In Unani medicine, diseases and ailments are never treated as an isolated problem from a reductionist approach. Instead, diseases and ailments are treated by holistically working with the entire body.
Siddha was another medicinal practice that emerged in Ancient India. In contrast to Ayurveda, Siddha medicine made waves in regions like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and never managed to branch out globally the way that Ayurveda did.
Nevertheless, Siddha is a powerful medical institution that offers very similar beliefs to that of Ayurveda; the two are often used together as a more potent healing practice.
Similar to Unani medicine, Siddha believes in five major elements instead of four: earth, water, air, fire and sky. It is also concerned with three “humors” (essentially, bodies): the Vaadham, Pittham and Kapam. Since this ancient medicine was derived from the same texts as Ayurveda, its similarity to the Vata, Pitta and Kapha are undeniable.
Siddha teaches one to bring both diet and lifestyle into balance in order to activate healing. The institute is centered around the pathiyam and apathiyam, which is essentially a list of do’s and don’ts for all patients.
What Ayurvedic Institutions Are Out There?
Prior to the early 1990s, those living in the Western world had very little access to the full, comprehensive teachings of Ayurveda.
In order to become a practitioner of this way of life, one either had to travel to India in order to track down the knowledge, or persuade someone who had themselves been to India to pass on what they learnt. When this wasn’t an option, people used books and dissertations that sought to better understand the ancient teachings, in hopes of better understanding it themselves.
With the birth of the internet in 1991, the secrets of the East could finally infiltrate the West, and it came in just the knick of time. With the ever-increasing opioid crisis ripping through the Western world, people were more determined than ever to find natural ways of healing the human body.
The notion of holistic wellness was born; the idea that one could be healthy not only in body, but in mind and spirit as well. Lo and behold, the people of the East had been practicing this way of living for thousands of centuries.
As a natural response to the interest, Ayurvedic courses and learning centers began popping up virtually over night. Practitioners began sharing their knowledge with all who were interested, and online diploma-style classes developed as an alternative means of learning Ayurveda in one’s free time.
In 1995, Dr. Marc Halpern founded the California College of Ayurveda in Nevada City. This was a first of its kind in the Western world, and Dr. Halpern remains revered as a pioneer of Ayurvedic healing in modern society.
The college can be broken up into three main sectors: the educational sector, the healthcare sector, and the relaxation sector.
In the educational sector of the college, students are invited to enroll in Ayurvedic medicine programs in order to become specialized practitioners of the ancient methods.
The healthcare sector invites patients to begin tending to their illnesses and imbalances through the Ayurvedic way of life, and offers the necessary facilitators and support through which to do so.
Finally, the relaxation sector is the college’s onsite spa facility, where all are invited to indulge in retreat-style activities for stipulated periods of time with the intention of leaving far more balanced and aligned than on first arrival.
Naturally, some of the best Ayurvedic institutes in the world are found in the Indian homeland itself. In Rajasthan, one can visit the Government Ayurvedic College. This is one of many Ayurvedic teaching centers across India where students are able to become specialized practitioners of Ayurveda in order to pursue it as a career.
The Government Ayurvedic College also has an onsite hospital that the public is free to visit. It’s here that students of the college can begin to work one on one with real people and real ailments.
Thanks to its large Indian immigrant population, the United Kingdom has become one of the Western frontrunners for Ayurvedic medicine. Practitioners are available across the country, and in London one can even attend the CMA accredited Ayurvedic Institute UK. This is an international school for Ayurveda, with classes on offer either in person or online.
The Ayurvedic diet and medicines would be nothing if it weren’t for the herbs that bring them to life. Ayurveda teaches us to identify and honor the potency within the many species of botanicals that grow from Earth itself.
There was not an illness or ailment in existence that the ancient rishis didn’t believe could be cured using the correct herbal combination, in the right way, at the right time. Exploring all of them would be near impossible, as there are tens of thousands noted in the texts. The following are some of the most well-known and widely used Ayurvedic herbs in the Western world:
Neem is an herb that dates back to the very start of Ayurvedic medicine. The Neem tree is naturally resistant to drought and famine, as it is fast growing despite needing very little water to survive.
Neem is predominately used to balance the Pitta energy, although the lightness and dryness of the herb makes for the perfect counter to Kapha energy as well.
Neem goes straight to the blood once digested, making it a powerful cleanser for the body. When brewed correctly, Neem can also promote healthy skin. Specialized Ayurvedic practitioners will be able to properly balance the Neem with other complimentary herbs in order to target organs such as the pancreas.
The name of this ancient herb directly translates to “having one hundred roots”. Throughout the ages, Shatavari has often been jokingly referred to as “having one hundred husbands”, as a result of the herb’s powerful effects on the female reproductive system.
In Ayurveda, Shatavari is used to balance Pitta and Vata energies. There are instances where it can be beneficial to Kapha as well, since it is a heavy herb.
One gets bhringraj powder from a herbal plant called eclipta alba. In Sanskrit, this herb is referred to as the “king of hair”, and the name speaks for itself.
Bhringraj powder is used to promote rapid hair growth, prevent hair falling and even delay or prevent hair graying altogether. The herb also has natural laxative properties, which do well to enhance the gut health that Ayurveda is so centered around.
Other Ayurvedic Herbs for Skin
Padmaka is a powerful plant that, when used in powdered form, sends raw zinc, iron and copper directly into the pores of the skin. Complexion is known to improve drastically just from daily use of Padmaka in paste-form. Combine the powder with rosewater or apple cider vinegar and mix well.
Madhuka is another word for the licorice plant. When used directly on the skin, Madhuka is able to permanently fade out blemishes and other dark pigmentation. This is also a great Ayurvedic herb to use after spending too long in the sun.
Nagkesar is an Ayurvedic skincare favorite due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Redness and irritation become a thing of the past after adding Nagkesar into one’s daily routine.
Other Ayurvedic Herbs for Hair
Fenugreek is an interesting herb that actually didn’t originate in India, but rather is native to the Mediterranean regions. Its benefits are acknowledged in Ayurveda, and Fenugreek is used as a treatment against excessive hair fall and dandruff. The plant is rich in folic acid, which is vital when it comes to hair and skin care.
Triphala is the Ayurvedic herb used to increase overall hair volume. One can either mix Triphala powder with coconut oil and use it as a hair mask, or one can include Triphala in their dietary habits.
Ayurveda believes that one’s hair volume is a direct representation of one’s liver condition and digestive abilities. Triphala, when eaten, works to bring both of these systems back into balance.
Daily teas are an enjoyable and easy way of bringing the benefits of Ayurvedic medicine into your life.
While just about every herbal tea can in some way be tied to Ayurveda, there are specific herbal combinations required when working with individual dosha.
Vata teas should include herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, fennel, madhuka and ginger. Pitta teas contain all of these as well as cardamom, rose and stevia. Kapha teas are the teas listed in Vata, combined with black pepper.
Working the right Ayurvedic tea into your daily routine can boast benefits when it comes to gaining internal balance. They travel quickly and directly to the source (the gut), and can work digestive wonders within minutes.
Most people feel a strong pull to enter the Ayurvedic way of life through an immersive cleanse experience. A cleanse is a great way of restructuring the body from the ground up, in order to pave the way for a healthier, more balanced way of living from that point onward.
Like the aforementioned kitchari cleanse, most Ayurvedic cleanses require 7 days of dedicated practice. Ayurvedic cleanses are notoriously gentle, and are easy to do while still being involved in regular work responsibilities, exercise patterns and everyday errands.
Since there are so many different types of Ayurvedic cleanses in existence, it is highly recommended that you make contact with a specialist prior to beginning your selected cleanse program. Not only will they be able to tell you if your chosen cleanse is right for your dominant dosha, they will be able to make personal adjustments to the stipulated cleanse and potentially cause it to be more effective.
While cleansing using an Ayurvedic diet, it is important to incorporate other Ayurvedic components into all 7 days of the cleanse. This gives your body, mind and spirit the best chance of aligning back into balance and you receiving the full benefits of what Ayurveda has to offer. Without these additional practices, you’ll essentially just be doing a glorified detox.
- While we sleep, toxins accumulate in our mouths. When you wake each morning during your cleanse, use a tongue scraper to remove said toxins before they have a chance to be swallowed. Consider using a special tongue scraper made from copper.
- You’ll want to avoid strenuous workouts during your cleanse period. However, it is important to move your body from the moment you wake up. 15 minutes of stretching or walking is sufficient.
- Dedicate a further 5 minutes each morning and evening to simply observing your breath. Counting to 4 on inhale, and 6 on exhale, is a highly beneficial practice.
- Use your breathing to go into 10 or 15 minutes of meditation.
- Sip on hot or warm water throughout the day as an aid in your active cleanse. If you find plain water too bland, add a slice of lemon or cucumber as a flavor agent. For more information, see our blog post on the subject of fruit and vegetable infused water.
- Do not drink caffeine during an Ayurvedic cleanse.
- Use a dry loofah to brush your skin before getting into the shower. This stimulates circulation and promotes activity within the lymphatic system.
- After your shower, give yourself a massage all over your body using coconut oil. Again, this promotes lymphatic activity. Start at your skull and work your way down.
- Drink herbal teas before and after your cleanse mealtimes.
Blending plants, herbs and water into oils has been an ancient medicinal practice across just about every civilization to have walked the planet. The undeniable benefits of body oils seem to penetrate all misconceptions that medicinal healing has to take place from inside out.
In addition to this, Ayurvedic essential oils provide users with highly concentrated formulas of the plants and herbs in question, allowing more direct, rapid healing to occur.
Bhringraj oil is an Ayurvedic treatment that was discovered due to what some practitioners believe is its powerful ability to cure baldness. By massaging the oil, which is also known by some as Ayurvedic hair oil, into the scalp before going to sleep, some practitioners believe that you are able to improve blood circulation at the start of the hair follicle, which in turn supports the growth of new and existing hairs.
Kesaradi is an oil that is infused with rose oil and saffron. This particular oil falls under Ayurveda’s batch of beauty elixirs. Kesaradi oil is used to brighten the skin until it glows. It reduces the appearance of stress and anxiety in the skin, and in the body.
Mahanarayan oil is an Ayurvedic mixture that targets muscles, joints and other forms of tension within the body. Historically it has been used as a massage oil, as well as a “hand cream” that can alleviate the pain of arthritis.
Massage is a celebrated component of the Ayurvedic lifestyle. The scriptures suggest that giving oneself a daily massage using coconut oil, or something similar, is a necessary form of lymph stimulation that promotes flow throughout the body.
In Ayurveda, the nasal passage is considered the doorway into one’s deepest consciousness. Congestion is not accepted in Ayurveda; breathing should be unobstructed and easy, always.
To reduce fluid and mucus build up within the sinus passages, Ayurveda maintains that the nose should be cleaned properly once a day using Naysa oil. By simply dipping the end of a Q-tip into the oil, and gently lubricating the inner nostrils, this oil is able to filter down through the nasal passages.
Ayurvedic Oil Pulling
Ayurveda believes that bad oral hygiene can be the cause of a number of misalignments within the human body. The Vedas describe the practice of oil pulling as an essential way of generating optimum levels of health within the mouth and throat.
In order to oil pull successfully, you need only keep a teaspoon of oil in your mouth while swooshing it back and forth for 20 minutes (or close to it). Ayurveda recommends using coconut oil, olive oil or sesame oil.
Ayurvedic Treatments: What Can I Expect from an Ayurvedic Practitioner?
Seeking Ayurvedic treatment is an incredibly intimate and personal experience. When first meeting with a practitioner, you’ll be encouraged to divulge your deepest medical, mental and physical health histories, so that the practitioner can better understand your needs and goals.
During your initial meeting with your practitioner, you will likely have your entire body analyzed, right down to the way your hips move and the shape of your fingernails. Your practitioner might request laboratory tests after this initial analysis. This is usually with the intention of better understanding certain inklings they might have about the vitamin, hormone and chemical levels within the body.
After attaining a better understanding about the vessel of the individual in question, the practitioner will usually start to inquire about any specific symptoms or ailments that are currently bothering the patient. Using this information, as well as the information obtained during the physical exam, your practitioner will be able to prescribe the treatment they deem most appropriate.
There are three main options for Ayurvedic treatment. The first is herbal treatment; namely, treatment using the plant and herb combinations outlined in the Vedic text. Herbal treatments target the human physiology, biochemistry, and psychology in order to achieve healing.
The second treatment option is something known as Panchakarma. This is a process similar to the cleanses that one can do at home, but far more extreme in comparison. It is a process of deep detoxification of the body, using diet, massage, induced vomiting, enema, steam treatment, blood letting and nasal lubrication.
The third option for treatment is simply through diet and routine. This is the most common form of Ayurvedic treatment as it can be done at home and is a gentle, long term route to healing. Your practitioner will prescribe a detailed eating plan based on your dominant dosha, as well as daily practices to adopt that promote further balance.
Ayurvedic Massage Therapy
Ayurvedic massage is another component within the many holistic treatment options available under the Ayurveda practice. It forms part of a practice called Panchakarma, which is essentially a five practice program that aims at achieving balance within the body.
Other practice options within Panchakarma include steam rooms, herbal baths, induced enemas, kitchari cleanses, induced vomiting and more.
The Ayurvedic massage pattern is non-typical to massage styles that we are accustomed to finding in the East. It is a pattern that targets specific pressure points, as identified by Ayurveda, with the intention of bringing balance to the mind, body and spirit. These points are called marma, and are presumed to be the weakest points of the human vessel.
When carried out by an Ayurvedic professional, the massage experience is usually customized to include healing oils that are best suited to the dosha energy of the patient. Some Ayurvedic massage centers make use of two therapists at a time, which gives the experience of more powerful kneading and stroking in the designated areas.
Massage is so important to Ayurveda that the ancient Vedas also suggest performing self-massage at home on a daily basis. As a daily routine, people should gently massage coconut oil into their skin, starting from the head and working their way down. This should happen after one’s morning shower, never before.
A self-massage will never be as potent as one delivered by a trained therapist, but it will promote lymphatic movement and in turn better flow through the body.
In Ayurveda, your massage options are as follows:
Abhyanga is the most popular form of Ayurvedic massage. It is a technique that can be performed by either a practitioner, or by yourself in the comfort of your own home.
This massage technique makes use of herbal infused oils that are dosha specific. Oils are warmed up before being massaged into the body, which creates a powerful life force between the skin and substance.
In the original Ayurvedic texts, the base of Abhyanga massage oils is always sesame, but, if you are performing this technique at home, coconut oil is sufficient.
Shirodhara is an Ayurvedic massage technique that forgets about the greater body and simply focuses on the area around the head. This technique is intended to heal and help the patient recover from intense stress, anxiety, insomnia, and even mental illness.
Shirodhara is performed by a therapist who will gently pour herbal infused milk over the forehead while the patient is laying down. The word Shirodhara actually translates directly to "head-flow".
The key with Shirodhara, and what makes it so unique, is the handcrafted equipment that is used throughout the procedure. The milks are infused in ornate copper bowls that are then suspended overhead of the patient using a crane-like device.
The bowl is tipped gently to release the milk over the forehead of the person whilst they are lying face up. The therapist is then able to massage the mixture into the designated pressure points with great ease.
The healing power of yoga has long been understood by the people of India. Yoga appears in the Charaka Samhita texts as an integral part of Ayurvedic living.
Often described as moving meditation, yoga is centered around balance. It’s only natural that it would be one of the pillars of Ayurveda; an invaluable tool for decreasing stress and hyper-energy in both the body and mind.
When practiced daily, yoga’s benefits become undeniable. People who have been practicing this ancient art for years, without the prior knowledge of Ayurveda, have been unconsciously bringing their dosha into alignment in the process.
There are different yogic practices that are most beneficial for each of the different dosha. Pitta bodies are known for their radiant heat, and yoga’s forward bending postures are used to cool and balance this energy. Similarly, backward bends create heat, which pulls the cool Vata energy into balance as well.
In yoga, twisting is used as a digestive agent. Twist-heavy yoga is highly beneficial to a Kapha body where balanced digestion tends to be a recurring problem.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of incorporating yoga into an Ayurvedic lifestyle is how naturally in-tune one becomes with their own body over time. Once you become familiar with the idea of dosha, you’ll start identifying imbalance in just about everything you do.
While practicing yoga, Ayurvedic-focused people are able to feel out the specific imbalances happening in their bodies as their practice unfolds. For example, going into a left-sided twist might always have been something that felt intensely uncomfortable, even sore. Prior to understanding Ayurveda, one is likely to brush this sensation off as simply part of the practice as expected, or even natural.
However when one begins to properly understand the relationship between yoga’s asanas and Ayurveda itself, one will soon realize that the left-sided twist is not naturally painful at all, but rather is pointing out existing pain in your lower colonic region that needs attention.
Ayurvedic yoga can become the whistleblower for anyone trying to become more deeply connected to the inner workings of their body.
Essentially, any product that you make use of as part of your health and wellness regime can be classified as Ayurvedic so long as it is infused with targeted Ayurvedic plants or herbs.
You’ll find that the market has an abundance of Ayurvedic soaps, shampoos, body lotions and even toothpastes available for use at home; all of which are simply herbal variations of one another.
The benefits of replacing your commercial soap with one that has been infused with Ayurvedic plants is that you’ll be increasing your body’s exposure to the healing properties of the plant in question (or the combination thereof). Making regular, physical contact with healing plants and herbs is an important component in Ayurveda.
Some powerful Ayurvedic soaps that you need to know about are:
Candrika was the first Ayurvedic soap to be launched to the public. It was first manufactured in India in 1940, and remains one of the most widely used soaps by Ayurvedic people around the world.
The soap is a combination of ginger, lime peels, caustic soda, coconut oil, sandalwood oil, hydnocarpus oil and orange oil. It retains a strong fragrance, but remains gentle enough to be used on all skin types.
Turmeric is one of the most highly praised plants within the Ayurvedic texts. It has been seen as a powerful healing agent for centuries, praised for its natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric soap is a great way to topically address skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne.
Sandalwood is another plant that is sacred across India. Ayurveda praises the moisturizing, anti-aging abilities of this plant in particular.
When infused into soap form, sandalwood gently detoxifies the body through the skin. It pulls waste out, and deposits nutrient moisture back in; this also makes it a great topical treatment for active acne.
Neem is a plant that comes up repeatedly in Ayurveda. Its list of benefits is seemingly endless, and in soap form this can be a useful agent in alleviating any kind of itching or redness.
Neem is a potent anti-bacterial, so it is safe to use on fungus, parasites or skin infections. It is also an intense moisturizer.
Mysore Sandal Soap
Mysore sandal soap originated over 100 years ago as a solution to the lack of Ayurvedic soaps for public distribution.
It’s an all natural mix of pure vegetable oil extracts, as well as 100% sandalwood oil. The combination forms a soap with noticeable anti-aging properties. This is also a powerful detoxifier, and can be used to remove fake tan solutions and henna ink gone wrong. Mysore sandal soap also works, over time, in fading the appearance of scarring.
Finding Ayurveda Near You
When initially uncovering the secrets of Ayurveda, it can be overwhelming to initially attempt to to “find Ayurveda near me”. There are so many different forms of Ayurvedic practice circulating most communities that narrowing your individual needs down to one specific institution can feel extremely daunting.
In order to find the right Ayurvedic practice near you, it helps to understand what each institution is probably offering. You might encounter any of the following within close proximity to your home:
Ayurvedic centers tend to be one stop shops for the Ayurvedic way of living and healing. It’s here that you’ll be connected with the perfect individual who suits your specific needs, be it just a conversation about the benefits of Ayurveda or right through to a full body exam and diagnosis.
Ayurvedic Training Facility
An Ayurvedic training facility is the opposite of a center. Here, you’ll be welcomed into the world of Ayurveda from the perspective of a practitioner, with intent to eventually become a qualified practitioner yourself.
Ayurvedic training facilities might offer short courses, online classes, certificates or even diplomas in the study.
If you’re lucky enough to live nearby an Ayurvedic spa, don’t hesitate to make an appointment. These are a great and gentle way of becoming acquainted with what Ayurveda has to offer.
Ayurvedic spas will offer most or all of the practices that fall under Panchakarma. You’ll have the option of starting lightly with a massage, or diving straight in with an intense steam bath or induced enema. Aside from massage, the practices of Panchakarma should always be performed by trained Ayurvedic professionals.
Ayurvedic Health Coach/Dietitian
While searching for Ayurveda near you, you’ll likely stumble upon independent practitioners who identify as Ayurvedic health coaches or dietitians.
These are either trained professionals or individuals who have been living and thriving under Ayurveda’s way of life for long enough to provide guidance for others to do the same. An Ayurvedic health coach will help you identify your dominant dosha and provide a thoughtful diet plan to go into immediate effect.
Ayurvedic Yoga Studios
Some yoga studios make the conscious decision to include the term ‘Ayurveda’ either in their studio name or description. This suggests that there are one or more teachers at the facility who understand Ayurveda and how it relates to the different asanas of yoga.
If incorporating Ayurveda into your practice is of importance to you, then a studio such as this will be your best option.
Disadvantages of Ayurvedic Medicine
Far too often in contemporary society Ayurveda is labeled as a pseudoscience and brushed off as something not to be taken too seriously. This is usually by individuals with little to no understanding of the treatment and principles at its core.
The biggest disadvantage of modern day Ayurvedic medicine is that it is perpetually competing against the corporate giant that is the Western pharmaceutical industry. Modern medicine can’t acknowledge the benefits of plant-based healing because it runs the risk of dismantling the multimillion dollar empire upon which it is so dependent.
Because Ayurvedic medicine needs to be kept at a distance by lawmakers and big business, it has never had the opportunity to evolve into its full potential — at least not in today’s society. Quality control is an important part of any medicinal institution, plant based or not. Keeping Ayurvedic medicine out of the mainstream means that it has never been able to reap the advantages of proper shelf life monitoring, standardized production, or purity testing.
By ensuring that Ayurvedic medicine continues to be perceived as a “hippie” take on healing, the institution as a whole stays in the disadvantaged position of never becoming a universally standardized practice.
You’re likely to continue encountering some Ayurvedic medicines that work, and some that don’t work as well, in large part because the different individuals making the medicines used different, non-standardized techniques, ingredients and storage processes.
It’s generally a harmless factor, and dedicated Ayurvedic practitioners are not fazed by it, but it does make the world of Ayurvedic medicine, and Ayurveda as a whole, a lot less likely to be taken seriously as an institution anytime soon.
Ayurvedic Books You Need to Know About
As with most ancient practices, the best way to make your first acquaintance with Ayurveda is through the literature. We recommend the following few as building blocks for your Ayurvedic knowledge bank:
The Sushruta Samhita is probably the most important text from the Great Three Classics Of Ayurveda. If you are seeking the Ayurvedic way of living because of any physical illnesses or diseases, then this manuscript is the best place to start.
Finding physical copies of the Sushruta Samhita text can be difficult, but there are a number of electric versions circulating the internet for public consumption. Click here for a version in English.
The Charaka Samhita is like the encyclopedia for Ayurveda. This is also one of the original ancient texts found in the great classics, only this one takes more of a general approach to describing Ayurveda and its principles.
Like the Sushruta Samhita, there are ample copies of the Charaka Samhita circulating online. Click here for a PDF version in English.
Ayurveda: The Science of Self-healing: a Practical Guide
In 1984, Dr. Vasant Lad took the time to pull together all of the most important components within Ayurveda in order to create the most practical guide in (then) existence.
Dr. Lad’s book essentially brought Ayurveda to the masses, posing it in a realistically attainable light, as opposed to the previously ‘out of reach’ view that many people had about it.
The Textbook of Ayurveda
The Textbook of Ayurveda is a fantastic, modern exploration of the ancient practice as understood by Dr. Vasant Lad.
This was Dr. Lad’s re-exploration of the world of Ayurveda, having dedicated most of his professional career to better understanding the practice and its benefits.
Released in 2002, this book is centuries behind the original texts found in the Vedas, but nonetheless relevant. It was his intention to teach the Ayurvedic way of healing as a moment-to-moment experience, and his book was greatly successful in this regard.
The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies
Bringing Ayurveda’s plant based medicines into your home is one of the most exciting parts of the Ayurveda journey.
Households that were previously not concerned with day to day healing through foods, plants and herb, are suddenly welcomed into a world of possibility and endless learning. This guidebook, also by Dr. Lad, makes for a great companion for anyone looking to embark on an Ayurvedic remedy journey in their home.
As will be apparent from the above, the world of Ayurveda is an expansive one with many long branches and deep roots. While it may all seem intimidating and overwhelming at first, it doesn't need to be that way. Start small, such as by incorporating Ayurvedic diet and hydration practices. For example, one of the easiest ways to begin incorporating Ayurvedic wellness practices into your life is to start drinking water from a copper water bottle. Check out our page to learn how to stay hydrated the Ayurvedic way!
About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.