Ayurveda is a science of natural health care that originated in India as a sister science to yoga. It is approximately 5,000 years old and yet its teachings are timeless. The lifestyle as taught in Ayurveda can prevent disease as well as counteract illness, especially chronic illness. The Ayurvedic lifestyle can be learned for personal care via workshops and talks given around the globe. Other resources, besides the journal, including books and videos are invaluable tools to develop knowledge of Ayurveda and the Ayurvedic lifestyle. For those interested in consulting with a practitioner versed in Ayurvedic science, we offer links to Ayurvedic Associations in the U.S. and abroad that often list individual practitioners in their associations.
The science of Ayurveda is based on understanding the principles that bring harmony and balance to an individual, in body, mind and spirit. It includes an understanding of the elements and the manifestation of the elements in terms of the three doshas. Harmony in one’s life is brought about by techniques to balance the doshas. This may include changes in lifestyle, the addition of yoga and meditation practice, the utilization of herbs, changes in one’s diet and ayurvedic cleansing through panchakarma.
The science of Ayurveda includes the incorporation of seasonal and daily routines and is highly attuned to the study of the changes in nature, including climactic conditions, seasons, and the daily cycles of time. When one achieves balance in one's lifestyle, one can attain the highest state of health. Ayurveda offers the world a system of preventive medicine and also excels in dealing with chronic illness. Both of these areas present the greatest challenges to western medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners are now educated through many schools and colleges offering courses in this science. Graduates of these courses may offer their services as health educators or practitioners, offering classes, workshops, lectures and one-on-one consultations. They may offer specialized ayurvedic spa therapies including abhyanga (ayurvedic massage), shirodhara (streaming of warm oil on the forehead to quiet the mind), or panchakarma (a special combination of ayurvedic cleansing therapies). Yoga and meditation are often integral to their practices. Herbs may be utilized to assist in balancing and cleansing.
There are also practitioners who have completed a more lengthy and vigorous program of studies, entitling them to be called vaidyas (ayurvedic doctors). In India, these programs are most often offered within medical schools and colleges. Similar Ayurvedic science programs have been started in other countries and are beginning to be offered in the United States. In addition, a certification and licensing process for Ayurveda is being developed in the U.S.