ayurveda and yoga for optimal health

Friday, October 5th, 2012

I recently pursued Ayurveda, an ancient system of holistic healthcare, to help me with chronic digestive problems. I would often go for days without a bowel movement especially when I traveled. I experienced daily aches and pains in my joints, and after exercising I felt depleted and exhausted rather than invigorated.

My Ayurveda practitioner and yoga instructor, Anu Butani, explained that Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga, is rooted in the laws and cycles of Mother Nature. The foundation of Ayurvedic medicine is one’s constitution, or dosha. There are three dosha types; Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, however; most people have a combination of dosha characteristics with one dosha being more predominant than another. Each of the dosha types thrive under a specific diet, exercise plan, and lifestyle changes. According to Ayurveda and Yoga, achieving balance on all levels of our being is the true measure of vibrant health.

At my first session, Anu determined that my health problems were due to my dominant dosha, Vata. Vata is translated as “wind” or “that which moves things.” It is this energy of movement and force that governs all biological activity.” The main locations of Vata in the body are the colon, thighs, bones, joints, ears, skin, brain, and nerve tissues. Anu explained that my dosha was present in greater than normal proportions; or in an “aggravated” or “excess state” creating imbalances within my whole system. According to David Frawley, Yoga and Ayurveda, Self Healing and Realization, “Vata is derived from the elements of Space and Air which is why Vata people tend to be cool, dry, slender, and light. They are also often lacking “agni” or “fire in the belly” which is directly related to one’s digestive health.

Anu recommended several therapies which included a Vata balancing diet of foods that were primarily sweet, sour, salty and cooked. She also recommended sipping warm teas throughout the day to flush out accumulated toxins, and to stimulate digestion. A variety of herbs and oils were suggested to promote digestive strength, and she instructed me how to massage my body daily with warm oil to nourish my dry body and warm my cool skin. I was also told to avoid certain foods that were drying or over-stimulating for my system. Finally, she recommended I practice slowing down, grounding, and nurturing myself more as part of my daily routine. Simply put, my cold and dry system needed warmth, oil and pressure to come back into balance.

Ayurvedic healing and wisdom has influenced my regular yoga practice and the poses I choose. I am more aware of what I need to do to support my body and how I can use particular asanas like forward bends or restorative poses to help relieve my digestive problems and release excess Vata in my system and standing poses to ground me. With attention and commitment I have continued to make progress one day at a time. I am thankful for Anu; her time and effort in helping me heal, and the profound difference Ayurevda has made in my digestive health and life.

Think Ayurveda can help you? I would be happy to provide Anu’s contact information or answer any questions that you may have.

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