“Ayurveda is a holistic science and lays emphasis on preserving and promoting the fitness of healthy individuals besides giving methods for treatment of diseases. Health is defined in Ayurveda as “soundness of body, organs and mind.”
― Sharadini Arun Dahanukar
Made up of two words- “Ayu” meaning life, and “Veda” meaning knowledge, Ayurveda took birth in the womb of Indian land almost 5,000 years ago. This form of healing finds a place in Hindu religious texts and has continued to spread its roots across the globe through the years. It is considered to be a gift from God which has been passed on to us by saints and holy men.
Originally an oral tradition, Ayurveda is a subsection of Atharvaveda, one of the four Vedas that form the basis of Hinduism. Initially, it was an art learned only by Brahmins, but as time went by, more people discovered it, and the term “Vaidya” was born. Ayurveda was used to cure diseases naturally and understand the importance of a well-balanced mind. It works on the principle that the mind and body are connected, and that the mind is very powerful. People from Rome, Afghanistan, Persia, and many other places came to India to learn this ancient form of medicine. In fact, Avicenna is said to have used Ayurveda as a bade to establish Islamic medicine, while Paracelsus, the father of Western medicine, also took help from Ayurveda. Three energies are central to Ayurveda. They are known as doshas, and it is said that they control one’s body:
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This governs all movement and deals with the nervous system. People who predominantly have Vata constitution will have qualities of air and space, which is why these people are quick, thin, and swift. An imbalance in Vata may lead to anxiety and fear. Qualities of Vata are airy, mobility, clarity, lightness.
It combines the qualities of the sun, and takes care of digestion, body temperature, and metabolism. These people are intelligent, sharp-witted, and athletic. When out of balance, they become moody and ill-tempered.
Controlling the balance of bodily fluids, muscles, and growth of cells, Kapha reflects the elements of water and earth. Anything dense in our bodies comes under Kapha. It is concerned with the seven tissues of our body, weight, and lubrication for joints. People with predominant Kapha usually have a calm temperament.
These doshas are said to affect the personality of a person. Most of us have two dominant doshas, which are constituted at the time of conception and remain the same for us throughout our lifespan. Ayurveda aims to maintain harmony between these doshas, which leads to a sound mind and healthy body.
Branches Of Ayurveda:
Ashtanga Ayurveda is a collection of the eight branches that the sacred art of Ayurveda is divided into. They are:
Considered to be general medicine, or medicine concerning the whole body, this branch of Ayurveda deals with the body’s digestive system and metabolism. It is made up of two words where “kaya” means body, and “chikitsa” means treatment. Diseases that are treated through this arise because of problems in metabolism. Treatment may be internal or external.
2. Graha Chikitsa
Also known as “bhoot vidya,” this branch mainly relates to psychological disorders- psychosis, mania, etc. It is named so because ancient people believed that ghosts and spirits affected their lives. Some treatments that are recommended under Graha Chikitsa are the use of herbs, yoga, deep breathing, repetition of special mantras, etc.
3. Baala Chikitsa
Dealing with the treatment of diseases in children, this is also called Kaumara Bhritya. When compared with modern medical science, it can be understood as Paediatrics and Obstetrics. It also deals with prenatal and postnatal care and believes that care at the developmental age can help an individual life long. This is practiced keeping in mind that all symptoms may not be explainable by the child.
4. Urdhaayanga Chikitsa
Concerns the diseases in the upper part of the body- eyes, neck, mouth, nose, ears. As per modern medical science, it refers to Otorhinolaryngology and Ophthalmology. It also called Shalakya Tantra because here, the physicians use specialized equipment called Shalakya.
5. Shalyarog Chikitsa
This is for surgical procedures. Many procedures like cataract surgery, kidney stones, etc. are performed under this, and it makes use of equipment like scalpel, scissors, and many other things. (Yantras and Shastras). This was of great importance during times of war when injuries were made because of arrows, swords, or any other foreign thing. Sushruta is known as the ‘Father of Plastic Surgery’ and was a practitioner of this branch of Ayurveda.
6. Jara Chikitsa
Focusing on the care of the elderly, it makes use of many natural oils and lotions to retain the vitality of skin, remove wrinkles, enhance memory, and improve physical strength. Alternatively known as Rasayana, it helps to lead a long and healthy life.
7. Agad Tantra
It deals with tackling problems that occur because of toxins or poisons. Diseases caused by these can be contracted from a poisonous bite of an animal, insect, or reaction from a metal.
8. Vajikarana (Vrishya Chikitsa)
Vaji means Horse, and this branch of Ayurveda aims at providing strength similar to that of a horse, it talks about sexual health and satisfaction and the problems related to infertility. It gives power and endurance to bring up future generations. It also helps to increase sexual pleasure, performance, and potency.
Ayurveda is considered as one of the oldest medical practices in the world and was way ahead of its time. Like every other time, India continues to amaze us with its vast treasure of knowledge!
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Common Medicinal Plants of Ayurveda:
- Ajagandha is a strong smelling, foetid herb found in the warmer parts of India.
- ATIVISHA is native of Western Himalayas and is found in Gharwal, Kumaon, and Kashmir. Made from a perennial herb that can be found in the altitude of 2500-4500m.
- ATIBALA is extracted from hairy-herb or an under-shrub perennial with golden flowers found abundantly throughout the hotter parts of the country. It is found as a common weed in plains or hills at an elevation of 600 m.
- ATASI (seed) are dried, ripe seeds cultivated throughout the plains of India at an altitude of 800 m. It is an erect annual herb.
- ASHVATTHA is found throughout the plains up to 170 m in Himalayas planted as roadside trees especially near temples. It consists of dried barks.
- ASVAGANDHA consists of dried and matured roots, found in the wasteland, cultivated and open fields throughout India especially in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It is a perennial shrub with its roots collected in winter, properly washed and cut into short pieces.
- ASHOKA is dried stem bark which is collected in Spring from mature, cultivated or wild trees. It is found in Central and Eastern Himalayas, Western Ghats, and Deccan.
- Asana is found mostly in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Orissa.
- Arka (Leaf) are dried leaves found in wild throughout India.
- Arka (Root) are dried roots found in wild throughout India.
- Aragvadha has pulp obtained from certain fruits and is common throughout India. The fruits are collected when ripe.
- Amalaki (Dried Fruit) consisting of pericarp of dried mature fruits are mostly collected in winter season after ripening and in summer season in Kashmir. It is found at an altitude of 1300 m on hills and is cultivated in gardens, home yards or grown as a roadside rood.
- Ajamoda consists of dried, aromatic fruits from an annual herb cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka.
- Babbula consists of dried mature stem bark found throughout India.
- Bakuchi consists of dry ripe fruits from an annual herb found in Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, and Maharashtra.
- Bibhitaka has pericarp of dried ripe fruits of a deciduous tree found in plain and forests up to 900 m elevation and the fruits are ripened towards November.
- Bilva consists of pulp of entire, unripe or half ripe fruits of a tree attaining a height of 12 m growing wild and also cultivated throughout the country.
- Chandrasura consists of the dried seeds of a small, erect annual herb, cultivated throughout India.
- Chitraka has dried, matured roots of a large perennial sub-scandent shrub found throughout India in wild state and cultivated in gardens occasionally.
- Dhanyaka consists of dried, ripe fruits of a branched, annual herb cultivated all over India and produces aroma when rubbed.
Building a Career in Ayurveda
Ayurveda has gained immense popularity over the years. Its healing properties and no side effects has proved to be an alternative and safe solution. It is now, in the present times, when people have started restoring their faith in Ayurveda.
Demand for Ayurvedic experts is on a rise and this is a good time to enter the Ayurveda industry and make a profitable and stable career.
There are many popular courses on Ayurveda one may pursue. There are even research courses available such as MD and Ph.D.
Here are 7 ways to build a career in Ayurveda that not only benefits you but also the society:
1. Ayurvedic Doctor
Medical profession is considered to be the noblest of all. It is known for compassion, caring, concern, and kindness. As the demand for Ayurveda is on the rise, the demand for Ayurvedic practitioners is on a rise too.
All you need is to successfully complete graduation in BAMS and then you can practice it in either Government or private hospitals. You can even start your own private clinic though other than these, there are ample of opportunities where this knowledge be put to use such as in areas like research, medical tourism, dispensaries, Ayurvedic pharmaceuticals, National Rural Health Mission campaigns, and National Ayush Mission and Ayurveda Specialty Centres
2. Ayurvedic Health and Wellness Professional
With raising awareness and recognition of Ayurveda globally, there is a rise in demand of Ayurvedic Health and Wellness Professionals. They are trained to focus on prevention than cure by advising specific diets and lifestyle based on the Ayurvedic guidelines.
As a health professional, you can examine the root cause of the problem and suggest medicines and treatments to cure their problems
3. Entrepreneur in the Ayurvedic Industry
Ayurvedic industry is flourishing and along with that the consumer base is widening day by day. With such surges in the market, there are new entrants required.
The first easy option here is to become franchise owners of popular Ayurvedic medicine manufacturers. It is beneficial to become a franchise owner as it directly connects you with the mainstream industry.
You already have a lot of insights and necessary resources and information which brings in growth without much struggle and brushes your entrepreneurship skills.
4. Building Own Wellness Centre
Nowadays due to toxification of everything and everywhere, people are heading for detoxification whenever they get a chance.
Rejuvenation and detoxification centres are splurging due to constant demands. You can plan in opening this business as a start-up and this may prove to be a profitable business.
These centres are popular and attracts maximum number of domestic and international tourists.
5. Healing Therapist
Ayurveda concentrates on the overall health and well-being of an individual. It includes both physical and mental aspects. Healing therapists can be in the form of Yoga teacher, massage therapist, physical therapist, acupuncturist, or even herbalist.
Not only has the demand increased in India, the demand for therapists is on a rise in US and UK too.
6. Launching Own Product Line
As people are becoming conscious and switching to natural Ayurvedic products, based on Ayurvedic applications, one can launch their own brand of Ayurvedic products. Since there is a table market, there are chances that the product line may turn out to be successful.
7. Researcher in Ayurveda
If digging deep and finding the solutions is what you are good at or want to do then research is the best option for you. You can opt for MD and Ph.D. courses or even go for an MSc or PG Diploma in Clinical Research.
Post completion one may join as Junior Research Fellows on research projects conducted by various colleges and institutions.
Best Ayurvedic Books to Read Right Away!
Yes, there are books on Ayurveda that covers everything: right from preventive measures for diseases like diabetes to providing an overview to the beginners. Here are the best ones you should get your hands on:
1. Ayurveda Guide for Beginners
Basic Ayurvedic Principles and Practices to Balance and Heal Naturally
By Chris Randall
The book provides insights and information on how Ayurveda helps in balancing the mind and body by applying the basic principles. It also shares information on its healing properties that is natural and with no side-effects.
2. The Ayurveda Solution to Type 2 Diabetes
A Clinically Proven Program to Balance Blood Sugar in 12 Weeks
By Jackie Christensen, Ph.D. Pat Crocker
The book is an excellent guide to navigate the root causes of Type 2 Diabetes and understand its implications from the perspective of Ayurveda with 48 recipes.
It includes easy-to-follow, bullet point instructions with a 12 weeks program segregated in different parts.
It consists of 8-week elimination diet, 1-week detox, and a 3-week re-introduction of foods that focuses on the health and help control the blood sugar levels.
3. A Primer on Ayurveda
A Practical Guide on Personalised Nutrition for Dieticians, Nutritionists & Healthcare Professionals
By Mrs. Pushpa Soundrarajan RDN, Mrs. Gauri Junnarkar RDN
A user-friendly handbook is a practical guide that integrates Ayurvedic principles into their practice and helps provide a holistic approach to counselling. It provides a detailed table constituting of spices and its benefits on the health. The images are all in colour with reference to different studies that reflects on the detailed benefits. Illustrations and tables are well-defined so that the users can connect with ease.
4. DR. SEBI Medicinal Herbs
Healing Uses, Dosage, DIY Capsules & Where to buy wildcrafted Herbal Plants for Remedies, Detox, Cleanse, Immunity, Weight Loss, Lungs, Eyes, Skin & Hair Rejuvenation
By Kerri M. Williams
The book is all about herbs right from what it is, how it is grown to its properties all distributed chapter-wise for better understanding. The uses are also specified and so are specific herb descriptions that are important for certain pivotal organs of the body. The book has majorly covered aspects of the medicinal herbs and therefore makes it to the must-read books in Ayurveda.
5. Ayurveda for Depression
An Integrative Approach to Restoring Balance and Reclaiming your Health
By Dr. L. Eduardo Cardona–Sanclemente
The book outlines Ayurveda anti-depression protocols that may work alone or along with conventional therapies to develop tailored-made plan in order to meet your requirements.
It will also help identify the root causes of various mental health blockages along with dietary adjustments, mind-body trainings, and herbal remedies to rejuvenate the body and mind and heal from depression.
Top Ayurvedic Wellness Retreats in India
Tired of chasing deadlines all week for months in a stretch?
No doubt with such stress and tiredness comes the urge to detox the body and mind. So, here are the Top Ayurvedic Wellness Retreats in India you can go to the next time:
- Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort, Kerala
Set by the peaceful backwaters of Alleppey, Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort provides programs ranging from a week to three weeks. The medical team in the resort checks each guest and on the basis of the conditions draws short or long-term courses that comprises of Yoga, meditation, treatments, and diets helping in immunity building, healthy and graceful ageing, improving organ health, and overall well-being.
So, if you looking for a break to healthily condition both your physical and mental well-being then this place is just for you!
- Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, Kovalam, Kerala
This retreat is located on the top of a cliff surrounded by quiet beaches. It recommends ‘Panchakarma’ as a seasonal treatment for eliminating impurities and toxins. They provide tailor-made programs and packages that emphasizes on stress-relief and immunity-building.
Wanting a restorative holiday that brings back everything to place?
Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra is the place for you!
- Ananda in the Himalayas, Uttarakhand
Overlooking the serene Rishikesh, surrounded by the Sal Forest, Ananda is spread across 100 acres. It incorporates everything from Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedanta with global-level fitness experiences, fitness, and organic, healthy cuisine.
They provide various programmes depending on the need and requirements alongside Ayurvedic treatments, diets, and Yoga.
Want to getaway from the hustle bustle and seek solace in harmony with the nature?
Then, plan your next trip here!
- Dharana at Shillim, Maharashtra
Located in the Sahyadris and spread over 320 acres estate, Dharana at Shillim emphasizes on healing through a blend of Ayurveda, Yoga, and Naturopathy with organic cuisine.
The programs are all customised based on the consultation of each guest to cater their needs and requirements efficiently. The retreat also has an Ayurvedic Panchakarma Programme completely based on detoxification with traditional therapies that help balance the doshas and eliminate impurities.
- Atmantan, Maharashtra
A hill-side resort near Mumbai, Atmantan ensures the restoration of balance of one’s mind, body, and soul achieved through the efforts of an experienced team of Ayurvedic doctors, yoga teachers, and pranic healers.
There are personalised curated packages that begins with a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor who further gives a more personalised treatment schedule along with the meal plan.
- Vana, Uttarakhand
Vana in Uttarakhand is known to provide the best of Ayurveda, yoga, and Sowa Rigpa (Tibetan Medicine) for an overall sustainable wellness along with the contemporary therapies.
The retreat firmly believes in reducing the modern distraction for best practices, therapies, cuisines and its effectiveness. Panchakarma is only suggested after the Ayurvedic doctor’s consultation.
Longing for peace and mental well-being?
This 21-acre property in Himalayas just does the right job for you!
Ayurveda’s goal is to improve health through holistic approaches to healing and there we gave an overview of the various aspects related to it.
Do take out time to immerse yourself in the natural science of Ayurveda as it not only benefits you but also the society.