Ayurveda – the science of health

India’s strikingly beautiful palaces and unique historical legacy are second to none. Well known for its deeply respected medical tradition, the country has a profound effect on all who visit.

Ayurveda is the time-tested Indian system of healing that is rapidly gaining the utmost respect in spas worldwide. Translated from the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, Ayurveda is the science of life (ayur meaning life, veda meaning knowledge).

Its basic paradigm is derived from d series of revered Sanskrit texts that reveal a healing system steeped in Hindu philosophy. At the heart of Ayurveda is the concept that our bodies are a microcosm of the universe, with three governing forces or dosha at work: vata ( air; related to movement), pitta (fire; digestion) and kapha (earth; body fluids). Each of us has a unique pattern of physical, mental and emotional energy that corresponds with these dosha and is part of our constitution. Although one dosha is generally dominant, all individuals possess the three dosha in varying degrees.

A person is said to be in good health when the dosha are balanced. The appropriate amount of vata promotes creativity and flexibility, while pitta generates understanding and analytical ablilty, and kapha engenders stability, affection and generosity. Imbalances of the dosha are thought to disrupt the flow of prana, the ‘life force’ that enters the body through food and the breath. The key to Ayurveda is treating the body, mind and spirit as a unified entity so as to mountain health, balance and harmony. Those who adopt this self-healing philosophy understand it to be a long-term lifestyle choice, with the full benefits reaped only when its core principles are adhered to in the strictest Ayurvedic tradition.

Unlike Western diagnoses that attempt to identify illness through common symptoms, Ayurvedic healing is highly personalized. Therapies are generally divided into curative or preventive depending on an individual’s needs. A typical curative regime could include a series of therapeutic massages, oil therapy, a vegetarian diet, the consumption of healthy herbal tonics and a daily routine of yoga and meditation. For those in good health, preventive measures that keep the body working to the best of its ability can also be prescribed.

Traditional Ayurvedic massage.

Traditional Ayurvedic massage combines medicated herbal oils, specifically determined by the bodys dosha, with manual techniques aimed at eliminating excess energy. It also enhances circulation and flexibility of the body.

For best results, two therapists work in unison to administer the flowing rhythmic strokes of abhyanga massage. To relieve stubborn knots and aches, the therapist may use his feet in a specialised technique called chavutti pizhichil, in which the therapist suspends himself by a rope from the ceiling to apply extra pressure.