Depending on our natural constitution, life circumstances, lifestyle choices and habits, the path to health and balance for one person is certainly not the way for all. The ancient holistic health system of Ayurveda was initially designed to help humans achieve balance, wellness and vitality through lifestyle and a regular connection with nature. With increasing validation from current research and modern science coupled with this timeless approach to health, Ayurveda is as relevant today as it was in India at its inception more than 5,000 years ago.
Jessica Serra, Ayurvedic Counselor and owner of Prima Wellness (PrimaWellness.com) in Watertown, explains that each person achieves not only balance, but wellness, through aligning individual biorhythms with those of one’s own ecology and environment. “In Ayurveda, balance involves psychological, physical and spiritual elements,” she explains. “It means cultivating body tissues, the proper elimination of waste, encouraging proper use of the five senses and nurturing a happy soul.”
Jaya Daptardar, of New Canaan’s Pryority Wellness (AyurBeautyAndLifestyle.com), describes the system as “the art of living” and our guide to food and lifestyle management. Ayurveda translates literally as “life knowledge”, and is known as the science of life. Daptardar describes the timeless relevance of Ayurveda in terms of the alchemical connection of the human body and nature. “Ayurveda is made up of five elements: fire, water, earth, air and space (ether). Our body is made up of the same five elements,” she explains. Each person is made up of a particular combination of these five elements, and in Ayurveda, this is described as a person’s individual constitution, or dosha. The three doshas and their corresponding elements are Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (earth and water).
Supporting the Doshas
Each person has a dominant dosha which needs a regular “tune-up” through the use of particular herbs, lifestyle, yoga and meditation. In addition to our personal dosha, the seasons have corresponding doshas as well: Vata (late fall into late winter), Kapha (late winter into late spring) and Pitta (early summer into late fall). Daptardar says, “We have to be mindful of our dosha and the seasons or the dosha energy can build up and put us out of balance.”
Neeru Kaushik, naturopathic physician and Ayurvedic practitioner of Fairfield’s Institute for Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Therapies (AyurvedicInstituteCT.com), says food and earth are the basis of treatments. In Ayurveda it is the synergy of the dosha, ecology and the circadian rhythms where the power of healing and balancing potential resides. Kaushik explains, “Let the body come into balance, and the body will heal itself with the help of nutrition and herbs.”
For instance, Maggie Durbas, Ayurvedic Health Consultant and founder of Journey to Yoga (JourneyOfYoga.com) in Simsbury, explains that since Vata is responsible for all moving energy in the body, during late fall into early winter, people who are predominantly Vata need to focus on becoming more grounded and centered, which is the opposite of Vata energy. If not, all the built up Vata energy due to the Vata dosha and its respective season may result in a scattered and unstable state of being. She goes on to say that similar buildups can occur with Kapha and Pitta during their corresponding seasons, and they too need to work on bringing balance by offsetting the energy of their dosha. This can typically be achieved through a regimen of herbs, food and lifestyle modifications.
Food and Lifestyle are the Pillars
The Ayurvedic paradigm calls us to consciously evaluate the very two factors that serve as the most consistent access points to our health: food and lifestyle choices. It is in this very complementary union that Ayurveda honors both the art and science of humanity and holds a very important key to wellness, healing and longevity.
Ayurveda is sometimes described as the “sister science to yoga”, but Lisa Day-Lewis, Ayurvedic Health Counselor and owner of Ahimsa Ayurveda (AhimsaAyurvedaUS.com) in Storrs, clarifies that “Yoga is a part of Ayurveda and Ayurveda is the all-encompassing” guide or the “how to live A-Z.” Before her awareness of Ayurveda, it was the spiritual experience of Bhakti yoga that strongly appealed to Day-Lewis. After experiencing the transformative power of yoga, she was drawn further into the spiritual richness of Ayurvedic life. She wanted more tools to learn “how to become and stay healthy and engage in life the way I want.” Ayurveda answered her call.
It is in the powerful work with biorhythms that Ayurveda’s balancing potential energy becomes realized. In deeply honoring the spiritual richness of life, Ayurveda also honors the healing process in the very foundation of our constitution: energy. Day-Lewis is excited for this time in history because, she expresses, “Ayurveda is catching.” As people are introduced to yoga, they are concurrently engaging in their own Ayurvedic beginning, which can just expand and deepen with awareness and knowledge.
Marma Techniques for Self-Care
Tanvi Gandhi is owner of Shiva-Shakti Acupuncture and Ayurveda (DrTanviGandhi.com) and practices in Stamford and Fairfield. She trained in Ayurvedic marmic theory and pranic healing and says working with Ayurvedic marma—energy points where prana (life force) flows is healing the vital force through these points in the body. She began her training as a Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncturist, then integrated marma. She describes marma as a “full healing modality that first incorporates guided meditation to connect to the marma channels or points, which can then be activated in the body using acupuncture.”
Gandhi emphasizes the focus on self-care techniques in her work, which she says is always empowering since clients can do marmic meditation on their own. “The self-care techniques,” she says, “promote vitality and longevity.” Marma points channel the energy from the spine, meet at the vortex of the chakras, and flow energy into the organs. She says this works with the subtle energy of the chakras and channels, and when meditation first activates the energy that may have remained otherwise stagnant, the healing in integrated and even more transformative.
With modern conveniences and the world at our fingertips, it is possible to live each day without even stepping outside. Ayurveda calls us to stop and ask, “Is this truly living?” Despite the much advancement since the dawn of man, our basic constitution still consists of the same matter, the same five elements that we share with the rest of nature: earth, fire, water, air and ether. We transcend just living and begin thriving when we acknowledge that we have all we need to live conscious, fulfilling lives through coming into relationship with these elements and the biorhythms that surround us. The wisdom of Ayurveda calls us to stop chasing the balance, and provides us with ways to finally achieve it.