Today’s fast-paced lifestyles can take a toll on our bodies. Stress, lack of exercise, and inappropriate nutrition can put us off our game or even leave us wavering on the edge of exhaustion. This is where Ayurveda can help.
Unlike Western medicine, which treats particular aliments, Ayurveda promotes health by addressing physical, mental, and emotional imbalances. As such, it is more than just a healing system, but a way of life that can be learned and practised throughout our lives.
“All people are born with a specific body constitution – what we call prakrithi – which can lead to a variety of imbalances. Once people know their specific body type, they can make the necessary lifestyle changes to put themselves back on track,” said Vaidya Mithun Rama Raju Indukuru, the Resident Ayurvedic Physician at the Sukhavati Retreat and Spa in Bali. “While it is important to remember that transformation is an ongoing process, anybody can learn how to tailor their daily routine to reap the benefits of Ayurvedic healing.”
Raju, who grew up in Hyderabad, India, in a family whose connection to Ayurveda dates back to the 17th century, says that the word Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit words: Ayu, which translates to life and Veda, which means knowledge. Calling the practice Life Knowledge seems apt considering that it dates back some 5,000 years and has been certified by the World Health Organisation as the world’s oldest comprehensive healthcare system. It was not until some 2,000 years later that both Ayurveda and the Hindu religion made their way from India to Indonesia.
Ayurveda does not offer all-purpose solutions, but rather looks at each person as an individual with a very specific body constitution. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, a person is made up of a combination of five elements including fire, earth, air, water, and space, which control their physical, mental, and emotional condition. While each person possesses a unique mixture of these elements, according to Ayurveda, there are three main body types or doshas: the pitta dosha (fire and water), the vata dosha (air and space) and the kapha dosha (water and earth). Interestingly, each body type is characterised by different physical characteristics: the kapha dosha by strong build, the pitta dosha by medium build, and the vata dosha by slim build.
Typically, an Ayurvedic physician starts their consultation, or panchakarma, by taking the patient’s pulse before examining their eyes, tongue, and skin. This lets the doctor determine the person’s dosha type, as well as assess if there are any irregularities in energy flows between the body, mind, and spirit.
“My main focus is on reducing ama or undigested food that can clog up the system by advising my patients about their daily routines, right from the moment they wake up until the time they turn off the lights at night,” said Raju. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody that most health conditions are caused by unhealthy lifestyles. My consultations are just the start of a longer transformation, with each individual responsible for their own journey towards a healthy mind and body.”
While the course of treatment can vary, it usually focuses on balancing the patient’s dosha through ridding the body of the physical and mental toxins caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. Some prescribed treatments include shirodhara, which involves the trickling of warm oil on the forehead to induce deep physical and mental relaxation. The gentle sensation of warm oil reduces the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline while improving blood circulation of the brain. Another line of treatment includes abhyanga or warm oil massage to liquefy toxins, followed by swedasna or herbal steam therapy used to eliminate toxins from the body.
According to Ayurveda, an inappropriate diet is one of the main causes of ill health. As such, it is important to ensure that each person is eating the right types of food for their body composition. Ayurveda focuses on balancing six main tastes, including salty, sour, bitter, astringent, sweet, and pungent.
“In the olden days, there were no pharmaceutical medicines, hence people used to treat the symptoms of disease with the herbs available in our kitchens. According to Ayurveda, food should be our first medicine and the kitchen should be our pharmacy,” said Raju. “People need to learn what food suits their body composition. While I can set them on the right path, the rest is up to each individual. Luckily, most Ayurvedic dishes are very easy to prepare at home.”
Since Ayurveda focuses on how each one of us can balance our unique body composition, it is important that each individual takes full ownership of their treatment. While a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor can set us on the path to a transformation, this will achieve nothing if we do not make the prescribed lifestyle changes a part of our daily routine.
Nevertheless, Raju says that enjoyment should be a crucial part of the process. “Be gentle with yourself along this journey to a healthy mind and body, and most importantly have fun along the way.”
Visit www.sukhavatibali.com for further information on the Sukhavati Retreat and Spa.