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Ayurveda 101

Integrative medicine draws from a variety of medical modalities in its approach to helping patients. Some of these modalities—like diet and nutrition and bodywork—are familiar. But others—like the science of ayurveda—may be less familiar. One of the oldest medical sciences in the world is India’s ayurvedic medicine. It is rich with simple methods to restore your health. It may even sound a bit like your grandmother’s words of wisdom, and yet it is a powerful healing tool that is recognized by integrative medicine.

The Science of Life
Ayurveda is the “science of life.”

So, what is ayurveda? The short answer: ayurveda is the medicine behind the practice of yoga. Yoga has become more mainstream these days, so it’s no surprise that its sister science is also becoming better known. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning “science of life” (ayur means “life or longevity” and veda means “knowledge, wisdom, or science”). Ayurveda is known as a “living science” because it incorporates modern developments and techniques into a body of ancient wisdom. Due to this adaptability, ayurveda has been useful for thousands of years.

Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health and is designed to help people live long, healthy, well-balanced lives. It focuses on creating sustainable daily practices that support the balance of an individual’s constitution—the physical body, mental body, and sense of purpose.

The basic practice of ayurveda includes:
  1. Daily morning and evening routines.
  2. Balanced meals that support our health according to the season of the year and our stage of life.
  3. Bringing digestion into balance to support our ability to assimilate the nutrients in our food.
  4. Supporting our natural energy levels throughout the day and promoting restful sleep.
  5. Keeping our individual constitution in balance as the seasons change and as we move from one stage of life to another.
  6. Giving us the opportunity to experience optimal health in all areas of our life.

Professionals offering ayurvedic treatments include ayurvedic health counselors, ayurvedic practitioners, and ayurvedic doctors. Yoga teachers trained to offer ayurvedic lifestyle support are called ayurvedic yoga specialists. The initial visit will include an intake session to gather data on physical or mental health concerns. Ayurvedic treatments may include lifestyle and diet suggestions as well as information on breathing practices, exercise, and meditation. Treatments may also involve suggestions for herbal supplements as well as body oiling (abhyanga), seasonal cleansing, and rejuvenation programs.

Prevention As Medicine

Disease prevention is one of ayurveda’s primary goals. Studies suggest that ayurveda may be effective at reducing the risk of heart disease and many other medical conditions. For example, one study found that in healthy adults as well as those at high risk for heart disease, ayurveda helped reduce plaque and reverse the thickening of artery walls known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a slow, complex disease in which cholesterol, fats, and other substances build up in the inner lining of an artery, forming plaque, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Often clients find that an ayurvedic consultation is a perfect support for other medical treatments.

Ayurveda helps keep us healthy, balanced, and in tune with nature.

Ayurveda is a wonderful modality to try; it helps keep us in balance and more in tune to nature. What more can you want from the science of life?

Leave a comment: let us know what you think of ayurveda and share how it has helped you!

About the Teacher

Kathryn Templeton

Kathryn Templeton, MA, RDT/MT, E-500 RYT, C-IAYT. Ayurvedic practitioner Kathryn Templeton has devoted her life to the health of others. A psychotherapist for 30 years, Kathryn is a Master Teacher in the field of Drama Therapy and continues to work both clinically and as an educator specializing in the treatment of individuals with anxiety, depression, and complex trauma. As a C-IAYT, NAMA-registered Ayurvedic practitioner and Senior ParaYoga teacher, Kathryn has worked to develop specialized treatments integrating the principles of yoga, ayurveda, and clinical psychology. Kathryn is a faculty member at the Himalayan Institute and the founder of the Himalayan Institute Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist program (HIAYS), Torchbearer Mentorship program, AYS Grad School, and The Three Wisdom Traditions: Integrating Yoga, Ayurveda, and Psychology (3WT). She is an Adjunct Professor of Human Development and General Psychology, a contributing writer and educator for Yoga International, and a Banyan Botanicals Ambassador. RDT – Registered Drama Therapist MT – Master Teacher.

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