Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical systems in the world – when translated, it means “a science of life” – which clearly describes what health is, how diseases come to existence, diagnostic methods, health prognosis and health care (promotive, preventive and curative). Ayurveda is most often connected to India and it is often considered to be intended only for people living in that area. However, Ayurveda is written for the entire human kind and its very simple principles may apply to every person in everyday life on every part of our planet. Due to its origin, Ayurveda is interpreted as a system of traditional Indian healing and health preservation methods.
If we stop for a moment and think about it, the answer to this question is actually very simple. We, people, are part of the nature and we as well as every other living being on this planet are under the influence of natural forces, but we all forgot about it and ignored it and every day we violate this unchangeable law. We swim against the current instead of letting the currents carry us. In practice, it looks like this, for example, during winter period, when it is cold, we can clearly see in our courtyard, if there is no noise, that nature is asleep, there are no flowers, grass doesn’t grow in winter, birds don’t sing in the morning, winter is not the period when new life gets created, bears hibernate, bees hibernate and other natural intuitive reactions reveal themselves. This is simply a resting period. A man considers himself not to be an animal but he is part of the nature and the same rules apply to him. He doesn’t follow the rules, he watches TV long in the night instead of going to rest when darkness falls, he continues working hard all year long ignoring the need for rest (hibernation), he has sex for pleasure and he is unconsciously violating a number of other natural laws. Human being collects material goods and takes more than what he naturally needs. Ayurveda looks at the person as a whole and as part of the nature. It searches for disease causes in the unbalanced way of life. It observes human life in a holistic way, entirely through the philosophy and way of life. It provides instructions tested and enhanced over centuries which enable harmonious, peaceful and long life.
According to Ayurveda, the human body as well as everything else in the nature consists of five basic elements – Ether (the space in the mouth, nose, abdomen etc.), Air (manifested through body movement and pulsation), Fire (metabolism, digestion, thinking processes etc.), Water (digestive system secretion, saliva etc.), Earth (bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons etc.). These 5 elements are connected through five senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch). Above mentioned 5 basic elements are manifested in human body (on physical, mental and emotional level) as 3 basic principles known as TRIDOSHA. VATA (air and ether) is the principle of movement. PITTA (water and fire) is manifested through metabolism and food transformation, while KAPHA (earth and water) is body constitution/stability. All three principles control all biological, psychological, physiological functions of body, mind and consciousness. When KAPHA, PITTA and VATA are in balance, the person is healthy. Every person is born with original constitution which is the unique combination of those three energies. Therefore, it can be represented as one of the 7 possible combinations of the above mentioned principles. The basic constitution of body doesn’t change during life, however the relationship of elements changes as a consequence of person’s way of life and this is how a disease or some other disorder occurs. The balance between tridoshas is essential for health. Together, they control all metabolic processes, anabolism (kapha), catabolism (vata) and metabolism (pita).
It is often misunderstood that everything recommended by Ayurveda, in relation to food or preparations used in treatments, needs to come from India. If this principle was followed, we would probably ruin our health in some ways. Through climatic conditions, the region in which we live in exactly defines the type of food necessary for normal functioning of our physical body and mind. The basic principle in Ayurveda is using locally grown food and herbs growing on local soil. The nature did not assume for a sick man to travel to a faraway country in order to get medicinal herbal preparation. However, the nature enabled us to use what naturally grew or was grown in our yard, garden or meadow. To explain this in a very simple way, we have to go to a market and check out what old grandmothers, who are not involved with mass production, sell during winter. They sell dried beans, walnuts, lard, green leafy and root vegetables, from fruit only apples, pumpkin seeds, a whole pumpkin or pumpkin oil, buckwheat (buckwheat porridge), sausages etc. Why do they sell this type of food? The answer is very simple. Based on its calorific and nutritional value, this type of food enables a man to survive the period when there is no food in abundance in a certain natural cycle. This means that one eats a lot of high calorie fat in any form, meat, pumpkin seeds or walnuts. We can see that, based on its natural quality, this type of food is able to last long, it can last during the whole winter period. This is how nature gave us what we need. Naturally, it is important to take into account our health state, the type of body and other characteristics for a person to be able to eat certain types of food. This proves how Ayurveda and its principles are valid for all of us – in terms of food; Ayurveda can be seen in every person’s local market and garden. What we cannot forget is the quality of every type of food in relation to heating and cooling the body down. Every type of food traditionally used during winter period has the ability to heat the body, while the type of food naturally growing during summer period has the ability to cool the body down. THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE OF AYURVEDA. If we eat bananas coming from warm parts of the planet during winter period (they cool the body down), we disturb the body’s natural harmony and we cool the body down even more. Apples are neglected, but extremely valuable fruit that grow in our area and are the only fruit in continental parts which can be found on markets during winter except the fruit imported from warmer parts of the planet. Very often, we continually eat the same food during the entire year, imported food coming from other parts of the planet and, very important, processed food which is not compatible with our digestive system. This causes disorders in our bodies and minds.
According to Ayurveda as well as local traditional naturally-oriented medicine around the whole wide world, the health of our digestive system has the most important role in human health on physical level. This can be explained in a simple and logical way, for example, on a car. If we pour good quality fuel into the car’s fuel tank, the fuel intended for this particular car, good quality oil into car’s engine and regularly service this car, consequently, this car will last long enough to owner’s satisfaction. However, if we only wash and take care of the car from the outside…. This same example applies to human body. The human digestive system is the engine. The quality of food, drinks, amount, whole food or processed food represent the fuel for human body engine, which consequently provides either high quality of life and long life or the opposite.
Big amounts of processed and unnatural food create toxins in our digestive system which in turn leads to diseases and disorders of various types. For example, headaches can be directly connected to disturbed function of the digestive system. Besides its calorific value, inadequate food creating toxins in our body has its vibrational-energy influence on our body and mind. This actually means that sugar belongs to the so called “rajasic” food and eating this type of food has consequences from physical issues to mental issues in the form of aggressiveness, restlessness. The meat belongs to the so called “tamasic” food and makes human mind slow, inert. Whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes etc. belong to the so called “sattvic” food which gives as person the sense of vitality, easiness, clarity, tranquillity.
The Chinese said that sugar causes addiction worse than heroin addiction. Sugar is food that is very dangerous to our health. Gradually and in the long run, it destroys our whole system. This food category also includes modern, artificial sweeteners like aspartame and other chemical sweeteners. White flour, all flour preparations, “modern” bread, all meat preparations, juices of all kinds or packaging, red meat and meat of the mammals and its consumption influences our mind and physical health in a subtle way and this type of food is the food we have to avoid eating. All milk preparations create mucus and are difficult to digest. Proper food combination and eating food during the whole day have an important role in maintaining our health. This means that fruit has to be eaten as a standalone meal and not immediately after one whole meal, whereas milk products and meat have to be avoided during evening period because they create mucus in the body, acidity and toxins. During evening and night period everybody is asleep, therefore our digestive system also needs to rest. If we eat this type of food, we should eat it with love and in smaller quantities.
We need to take into account the body constitution which includes physical, mental and emotional characteristics, age and person’s daily routine. If a person has a physically challenging job, he/she needs to eat one type of food and quantity as opposed to a person who is physically less active. If a person has health issues, e.g. inflammation processes in the body, he/she should avoid food and medicinal preparations which by nature have the ability to heat the body. For example, a person with VATA constitution, whose characteristic is dryness and coldness, should eat warm food and avoid dry food. It is actually very simple – opposite from the existing. And, it is very important to listen to your body and observe your mind after eating individual types of food. Regardless of body constitution and other characteristics, one rule applies to all – the rule of wholesome food, grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, pure water, seeds and cold pressed oils, nuts. Eating meat in smaller quantities, avoid red meat and the meat of mammals, avoid all types of meat preparations like salami, pate and similar, use malted barley, agave syrup, stevia etc. instead of sugar, of course, only if our physical form and health permit. We need to give the advantage to locally grown and seasonal foods, moderate portions and we eat to live, not live to eat.
It differs in some segments, but what we do every day is the following:
- In the morning when we open our eyes, we first thank to ourselves, family and parents and to a higher being.
- We fill our mouth with cold-pressed sunflower oil (Gandosha treatment), not fully. We swish the oil in our mouth for 20 minutes, not gargle, after which we spit the oil which is now white. This way, we extract toxins from the system through our tongue.
- Simultaneously with Gandosha procedure, in a gentle way and mentally present with our body, we perform a whole body massage with the help of WARM ayurvedic oil or cold-pressed sesame, olive and sunflower oil in a bath (we have to be careful not to slip due to the presence of oil). Movements slide from feet to the top of the head. After lukewarm body shower we feel great. We balance VATA energy in our body.
- Lukewarm body shower and we brush our teeth.
- Warm lemonade – 1-2 glasses without sugar, possible to add one tablespoon of honey
- Yoga exercises for better digestion, meditation
- Wholesome breakfast, prepared and eaten along a joyful song or prayer
- Lunch around 3pm, prepared and eaten along a joyful song or prayer
- Dinner at 6pm, prepared and eaten along a joyful song or prayer
- Shower, yoga exercises, meditation, good night kiss to family. Of course, working during day, taking care of family and community.
Basically, Ayurveda acts preventively, which means that today and now you eat and do what will today and now enable you to feel good, be full of energy and healthy. Besides dietary habits, there is a series of ayurvedic beneficial, gentle and pleasant treatments and procedures used for caring and servicing of our body to be able to serve us TODAY and NOW. We emphasized it with capital letters because today’s man pays for life insurances in order to have money for future treatments and, by unconsciously ignoring and servicing body inadequately, as opposed to a car, lives an incomplete life beneath its natural potential. There is a wide choice of treatments, from ayurvedic massages to panchakarma procedures of detoxification. You can find out more about each treatment available at the centre Namaste under the section Treatments.
Panchakarma programme is ideal “general” service of body and mind for everybody who wants to preserve and improve his/her health through a series of beneficial, gentle and pleasant treatments. Toxins from food, water, air, unbalanced life style and destructive emotions are the main cause of disorders on physical body level as well as mind level. Panchakarma therapy is one of the most important branches of Ayurveda whose goal is eliminating body toxins from bodily organs and organ systems and establishing balance between three doshas i.e. energies in the body. As the body is cleansed, it simultaneously gets stronger and stimulates the immune system to start renewing damaged cells, the body begins to heal and organs do their job on optimum frequency. According to Ayurveda, health “lies in the stomach”. Therefore, the procedure’s goal is establishing and maintaining proper digestive functions. Panchakarma procedure can be presented as a car service and care for the car on the outside and inside which is, by most of us, done quite regularly. On completion of physical body and mind cleansing, as if it was our own car, the person gets to know himself/herself by awakening unused human potentials supressed by the way of life and inadequate diet, the skin gets shinier, he/she feels full of energy, he/she feels the easiness of the body, he/she wakes up rested, thoughts are clear, emotions are quieter and milder, digestive system functions get regulated, he/she feels optimism and joy. This procedure lasts 11 days.
Depending on the needs, for certain ayurvedic massages we use warm ayurvedic oil, while for others we use herbal powder. The choice of preparations for individual treatments depends on the type of bodily constitution and what we want to achieve with this procedure. The range of preparations is from oils of organic origin, solutions, pastes, powders, ghee (purified butter) to boluses with carefully selected herbs. All the preparations are done according to original recipes on open fire, by hand and with a lot of love and care. Ayurvedic panchakarma programme of detoxification includes adequate diet before, during and after treatment. Since Ayurveda is based on nature and its laws, a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere is present during the whole procedure, from the preparation period till completion. Besides client preparation, the therapist’s preparation also has a very important role for this treatment since he/she brings positive energy and thereby contributes to the success of the treatment and client satisfaction. Ayurvedic clinics as well as the Centre Namaste are spiritual. All the rooms are arranged in a natural way so that they are able to emit harmonious energy. Ayurveda represents gentleness in approach. Through Ayurveda we got inspired for wellness and spa, which help a person relax, renew and refill with energy and, what is very important, eliminate toxins accumulated in certain organs and body which are the cause of many diseases.
When we put aside all interests, desires and visions in every business, profession, and especially, in relation to person’s health, the most important things is “to be a good person”. This means to help the best way we know how and to continually improve ourselves. If we are not able to, our obligation is to refer people to places we know can help them by improving the quality of their life and health. Every day we have to try to give advice without any charge. All oils and preparations we use are natural, cooked according to recipes learned at Dhanvantari Ayurveda Academy, Calicut, India. The oils are cooked, whereas ghee cleanses along a song filled with love for the person waiting for the treatment. People encountering Ayurveda for the first time are kindly invited to try this new experience – a valuable ayurvedic massage, abhyanga or kalari foot massage. We do not watch the time during treatments. As we would like to “pass the exam” with flying colours, we try to go the extra mile because when we give, we all grow.