Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, derived from two roots: ayur, which means life, and veda, knowledge. Knowledge arranged systematically with logic becomes science. During the due course of time, Ayurveda became the science of life. It has its root in ancient vedic literature and encompasses our entire life, the body, mind and spirit.
Ayurveda (pronounced eye-yer-vay-duh) is the art of healthy living that enables you to create harmony in daily life by applying self- knowledge and self-care. Ayurveda evolved around 600 BC in India. This new system of medicine stressed on the prevention of body ailments in addition to curing them. Followed by the Dravidians and Aryans alike, Ayurveda has been practised ever since.
Ayurveda believes in the treatment of not just the affected part, but the individual as a whole. Making it the natural way to refresh yourself, eliminate all toxic imbalances from the body and thus regain resistance and good health.
Ayurveda recognizes three main energies that combine to form all things in the universe. These are recognized as being fundamental to all life and are seen in the processes of growth, maintenance, and decay. Their actions are named anabolism, metabolism, and catabolism in the western sciences. Life, light, and love exemplify all these energies and are found in our environments at every moment on every level.
These energies combine in limitless ways to create the unique qualities of each individual. When you become aware of these qualities within yourself, you take the first steps toward creating a healthy life. Ayurveda assists you in identifying these energies in your body and shows you how to fully experience their gifts and to gain freedom from their limitations. By working with the body's unique nature, you are able to create true health.
Ayurveda names these basic energies Vata, Pitta, and Kapha . In the Ayurvedic approach to life and health, we recognize how these energies are at work at each moment in our bodies and minds. When we recognize this, we can begin to create balance for ourselves by countering the destructive forces with positive actions.
With Ayurveda, we acknowledge that beneficial daily habits are different for each person, because each person is a unique combination of these three energies. Everybody has all three energies- though people experience each of them to a greater or lesser degree. Ayurveda can be a mirror that reflects our true nature and maps out the path for a return to the lives of vitality that we are meant to have.
Kerala, the abode of Ayurveda
Kerala's equable climate, natural abundance of forests (with a wealth of herbs and medicinal plants), and the cool monsoon season (June - November) are best suited for Ayurveda's curative and restorative packages. In fact, today, Kerala is the only State in India which practises this system of medicine with absolute dedication.
Monsoon, the ideal time for rejuvenation
Traditional texts reveal that the monsoon is the best season for rejuvenation programmes. The atmosphere remains dust-free and cool, opening the pores of the body to the maximum, making it most receptive to herbal oils.
Rejuvenation Therapy (Rasayana Chikitsa)
Tones up the skin and rejuvenates and strengthens all the tissues so as to achieve ideal health and longevity. Increases 'Ojas' (primary vitality) and improves 'Sattva' (mental clarity) and thereby increases the resistance of the body. Includes head and face massage with medicated oils and creams, body massage with herbal oil or powder by hand and foot, internal rejuvenative medicines and medicated steam bath. Herbal baths are also used.
Body Immunisation And Longevity Treatment (Kayakalpa Chikitsa)
Prime treatment for retarding the ageing process, arresting the degeneration of body cells and immunisation of the system. Includes intake of Rasayana (special Ayurvedic medicines and diet) and comprehensive body care programmes. Most effective for either sex if undertaken before the age of 50.
Mental And Physical Well Being (Meditation and Yoga)
Mental and physical exercises meant to isolate the ego from the body and mind - designed to hone your concentration, improve health and help attain peace of mind through eight stages of training : 1. Disciplined behaviour (yama) 2. Self purification (niyama) 3. Bodily postures such as the lotus position (asana) 4. Control of breathing (pranayama) 5. Control of the senses (pratyahara) 6. Fixing of the mind on a chosen object (dharana) 7. Meditation (dhyana) and 8. Samadhi - a state of being where you experience absolute tranquility and well being.
Body Sedation (Sweda Karma)
Medicated steam baths eliminate impurities from the body, improve the tone and complexion of the skin, reduce fat and are recommended for certain rheumatic diseases, particularly for pain. Precious herbs and herbal leaves are boiled and the steam is passed over the entire body for 10 to 20 minutes daily. Hand massage with herbal oils or herbal powder improves blood circulation and tones up the muscles.
Medicated herbal powder and medicated herbal oil massages, an Ayurvedic diet of herbal juices etc. are part of the programme.
Herbal face pack, herbal oil massage, intake of herbal tea etc. improves complexion and beautifies the body.
Overall Fitness (Panchakarma Treatment)
A five fold treatment for mental and physical well being - tunes the body, organs, mind, breath, nerves and purifies the blood.
Treatment for chronic headaches, insomnia, mental tension and cases of hysteria, hallucination and insanity. (Dhara)
Herbal oils, medicated milk or butter milk and decoctions are poured on the forehead/whole body in a special manner. Variations include Oordhwanga Dhara (good for diseases of the eyes, ears and skin), Takra Dhara (for those suffering from memory loss, severe headache or insanity) and Sarvanga Dhara (for both head and body).
Treatment to alleviate osteoarthritis, leukemia etc. (Snehapanam)
Medicated ghee is given internally in a gradually increased quantity for specific periods.
Treatment for dryness of nostrils, mouth and throat, severe headaches, facial paralysis and burning sensation in the head. (Sirovasti)
Lukewarm herbal oils are poured into a leather cap fitted on the head for specific durations as per physician's recommendation.
Treatment for spondilosis, rheumatic diseases like arthritis, paralysis, hemiplegia, nervous weaknesses and nervous disorders.(Pizhichil)
Lukewarm herbal oil is applied with fresh linen all over the body by trained masseurs in a rhythmic manner for a period of 1 to 11/2 hours daily for 7 to 21 days.
Treatment for diseases like hemiplegia, paralysis, obesity and certain rheumatic ailments.(Udvarthanam)
Therapeutic massage with herbal powders.
Treatment for musculo-skeletal ailments due to trauma or accidents.(Marma Chikitsa)
Treatment that works on the extremely sensitive vital points of the body (the 107 marmas).
Treatment for nasal ailments. (Nasyam)
Inhalation of medicated herbal preparations, decoction oils, ghee etc. to eliminate the morbid factors from the head and neck area.
Treatment for ear ailments. (Karnapooranam)
Medicated oils are applied to the ear for 5 to 10 minutes daily to clean as well as treat specific ailments.
Preventing cataract and strengthening vision. (Tharpanam)
A treatment for the eyes effective in preventing cataract and strengthening the optic nerve.
Treatment for rheumatism, sports injuries, pain in the joints, emancipation of the body or parts of the body from certain kinds of skin diseases. (Njavarakizhi)
The whole body is made to perspire by the external application of medicated rice packs in the form of boluses tied in muslin bags.