If you’ve heard of Ayurveda and wondered what it is, we’re about to give you the low down. And if you’ve got absolutely no idea, then you’re about to find out!
The world of wellness is huge – its value in 2018 was over $4.5 trillion – and frankly, it can all be a bit confusing. From sleep apps, yoga and CBD to mindfulness, meditation and urine therapy (it’s a legit thing), the list of new wellness discoveries is never ending.
With so many new fads, trends, ideas and approaches, you’d be forgiven for wondering if you are, in fact, ‘doing’ wellness right.
Ayurvedic wellness strips all this right back and returns to the guiding principles of health and wellness – a holistic, balanced approach. We take a deep dive to find out more.
So what exactly is it?
Ayurveda is an ancient healing practice that originates in India, and dates back more than 5000 years. It translates literally as ‘The science of life’. Ayur = life, Veda = knowledge.
Ayurvedic wellness focuses on the delicate balance between mind, body and spirit. Our ability to maintain this balance is THE key to good health.
These are the foundations for the practice:
- We’re all interconnected – living and non-living, to both ourselves and the environment; a healthy balance between all these facets is what promotes good health
- Lifestyle choices can disrupt the healthy balance of mind, body and spirit – for example, our relationships, diet, exercise, and job stresses
- This imbalance can then make us more susceptible to disease
- We can promote a healthy balance if we make choices that support harmony and connectivity
Ayurveda also recognises that no two people are the same – and therefore, the approach to their health must be treated uniquely.
How does Ayurveda assess where we're at on an individual basis?
You can visit an Ayurveda practitioner for a more in-depth analysis of this. And if you do, prepare to share!
With their holistic approach to wellness, they’ll look at everything from your fitness, mental health, body functions, diet, personal history, plus environmental factors, to get a broad picture. Using this, they can then determine how you promote the best health for yourself.
They’ll also assess your dosha (body). The Ayurvedic belief system states that we’re all born with one of three biological energies (types) running through our body. Once we know our type, we can then plan a diet and lifestyle that aligns with our dosha to help us maintain optimal health.
Remember: Veda = knowledge. And knowledge is power. The more we know, the more we can grow….
This is the essence of Ayurvedic wellness.
What are the three Ayurvedic ‘dosha’?
This relates to our metabolism and physiological state. Have a friend who’s constantly hyper, whereas you prefer the more chiiiiilll vibes? It could be your dosha.
Broken down into three, these are the general attributes associated with each dosha:
- Vata (Air) – fast metabolism, thin, active, fast communicators, impatient, creative and sensitive
- Pitta (Fire) – medium build, muscular, warm, reddish complexion, loud, ambitious, extrovert
- Kapha (Earth) – big-boned, moderate appetite, low-activity levels, stable, loyal, tranquil
If you’re reading this and thinking ‘but I’m a mix of these!‘ that’s totally normal. We all embody the three dosha but we tend to have one that’s more dominant. Sometimes, we can even be a mix of two. With Ayurvedic wellness, the key is still to find the right balance between mind, body and spirit – no matter what our dosha(s).
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What do Ayurvedic treatments or medicines look like?
Given the holistic approach of Ayurvedic wellness, it can be a combination of different factors.
Ayurvedic medicine is usually a mix of herbs, metals and minerals, and is seen to be more of a complement to existing medical practices, not as a substitute for. It’s often used in conjunction with a range of techniques and treatments like the ones below:
- Dietary advice
- Herbal medicine
- Yoga and breathing techniques
- Bowel cleansing
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This turtle sanctuary in Sri Lanka is an animal lover's dream
So, how does anyone support total health connectivity? Isn’t that all a bit idealistic?
The truth is, most of us still have to contend with ‘imperfect’ lifestyle factors – work and life stresses, busy commutes, relationship strains… These don’t just disappear. With the realities of modern life, it’s no surprise when we occasionally find ourselves off-kilter.
So how can we strive for that all-important harmony and connectivity? (without the need to migrate to remote mountain hilltops)
Here are a few tips that support Ayurvedic wellness:
- Meditation: 30 minutes a day to help control cortisol levels and decrease stress hormones
- Massage: reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and – if you massage your tummy – even aid digestion
- Mindful eating: to aid your digestion and calm your nervous system – it’s also recommended you eat your largest meal in the middle of the day for this reason
- Drink water: an oldie but a goodie, nourish and cleanse your body by keeping it well hydrated
- Rest well: try to go to bed and rise at the same time each day to keep your body replenished and energised
- Laugh: to release endorphins and pump in the feel good factor
How can I get a taste of Ayurvedic wellness?
It’s all very well theorising it but sometimes, you’ve just got to try it for yourself to see. Rooted in spiritual practice, ancient history and culture, the teachings of Ayurvedic wellness will open your mind in new ways.
As part of Contiki’s Detour trips, you can head to the dreamy coastal town of Anghulla in Sri Lanka for the full experience with a local Ayurvedic doctor. You’ll learn all about the ancient practice, enjoy healing treatments and therapies over the course of the retreat, and further relax with yoga, massage and meditation each day. You’ll even get the chance to witness baby turtles being released back into the wild.
If that’s not the ideal balance of mind, body and spirit we don’t know what is.