What is Āyurveda?
The etymology of Āyurveda rises from two sanskrit roots: Āyus (आयुस्), meaning "life" or "longevity", and veda (वेद), meaning "knowledge." Yoked together they become “Āyurveda,” or the knowledge of longevity.
To understand Āyurveda one must first become familiar with its roots.
About 5,000 years ago, Āyurveda was the contemporary approach to health in and around the Indus valley. Today it is still used by a reported 80% of the population of India and Nepal for “first aid treatment.”
1. diagram of the nadis commonly found in traditional yoga and ayurveda studies
While modern medicine has developed unprecedented ability to treat acute conditions and save lives, Āyurveda has preserved its patient emphasis on living well throughout the lifespan. Focusing on optimal health as opposed to pathology, Āyurveda works not through treating or repressing symptoms but by gradually righting the imbalance from which said symptoms have arisen. For this reason, the philosophy and traditions of India’s ancient alternative medicine continue to be both relevant and effective for modern populations with a desire to feel well.
In the ayurvedic perspective, health is not “freedom from physical disease or pain” but rather a state of equilibrium where one’s internal and external environments exist in harmonious conversation. Health is as dynamic as matter, changing at a rate too fast for human perception to track.
Once you begin to view health from this perspective, you may start noticing that everything in your life has an effect on your overall well-being. It could be the flowers growing outside your door, the way your co-worker talks to you at lunch, the smell of you family's house, the type of music that's playing at Shell when your car happens to need a refill etc... All the little things begin to count, as they summate into something much much larger.
I invite you to put on a pair of Ayurvedic glasses-- as you go through your day notice the effects of both the subtle and gross factors playing out in your life and the downstream effects they have on your experience. Trust me, this game never gets old.