Ayurveda and health

Ayurveda and Western medicine have differing outlooks on diet and health. The focus of Ayurveda is on understanding the cause of the underlying symptom. This entails looking closely at the persons daily life, diet, relationships, exercise, attitude and beliefs.

Our mind, body and what we actually do, eat and think has an effect on our health and wellbeing. Ayurveda offers guidelines that involve taking responsibility for our own health for that reason.

The 8 limbs of Yoga as taught by Patanjali provide tools to go within. In time we learn to connect with ourselves and look deeply and what we may or may not be doing. This is based on the principles of cause and effect. It is no surprise what we ingest through our senses has an effect on the whole organism, including the mind.

Yoga Ayurveda
Zoe and Indra Mohan 2016 receiving Svastha Yoga Ayurveda Therapy

Diet affects our health and well-being

It is so surprising how many people in not recognise the connection between their diet, lifestyle, habits and their health. Ayurveda and western medicine have a different focus on health. Such as Ayurveda teaches us to notice and reflect on what we ingest through our senses, and the resulting effects.

With Western medicine the patient asks the doctor to work out what is wrong with them. Often a patient will be prescribed medications while still ingesting foods that are harmful to their body. Most people want to come away with an answer and a remedy to take and doctors are in a bind. Rather than making a change to their life. As a result the patient may begin to feel they are on the mend or they will keep looking outside of themselves for a cure.

Studying Ayurveda in India

Ayurvedic ancient text

The most ancient and venerated Ayurvedic textbook is the Charaka Samhita. This text states, “the distinction between health and disease arises as the result of the difference between wholesome and unwholesome diet. A disease is the result of faulty nutrition.”

Along similar lines, perhaps, Western medical opinion is slowly shifting and beginning to recognise diet as a risk factor in many diseases. To optimise health and well-being in the positive sense we look at the diet.

Ayurveda makes no distinction between food and medicine both are considered one category, not two. The food taste is not mere decoration, but has nutritional meaning.

The terms tamasic, rajasic and sattvic are used to classify food types.

A sattvic diet is optimal as it is the middle path between tamasic that is heavey and sluggish and rajasic that is manic and fast.

Combine Yoga and Ayurveda

Ayurveda respects individual differences for health

Different people respond differently to the same foods, and conversely, different foods suit different people. For instance, an egg can be good for one person and a searing time bomb to another.

Western nutrition has not yet paid much attention to individual differences. Often we hear people say they have a food allergy and need to stay away from eating this or that.

Modern nutrition tends to say you should eat only x grams of fat or at least y grams of protein (with few medical exceptions.) By contrast Ayurveda systematically analyses why food benefits one person can harm another.

Yoga Ayurveda Therapy
Yoga Ayurveda Therapy

Western Medicine

As important as what one eats is how one digest. A patient complaining that his digestion is sluggish or weak would not be a candidate for Western treatment. Yet Ayurveda holds that sluggish or weak digestion is a significant pathogenic factor. If not properly digested any diet is useless.

Agni is our digestive fire

Ayurveda recommends a purifying diet as toxins have accumulated in the digestive tract due to lifestyle and eating habits. The digestion in Ayurveda is viewed as a furnace and is called the agni. Throwing too much fuel on the fire snuffs it out. This is what happens when one eats foods that are too heavy, eats foods at the wrong time, or eats before one has completely digested the previous meal.

Eating incorrectly overwhelms the stomach and the food is not processed correctly instead it putrefies. In turn this leaves impurities that collect in the body, weigh it down and cause disease.

Yoga Ayurveda
Zoe studying Ayurveda India 2004

Agni – Toxins

The body removes ama with its own self-cleaning mechanisms when not weighed down by too much food or the wrong kinds of food. Likewise an optimal digestive fire prevents the ama and toxins forming and from accumulating.

Our body naturally eliminates impurities through the bowels, bladder and skin. As well its own mechanisms to dissolve clots in the legs or plaque in the arteries. Blockages in the arteries can be removed through a program of meditation, diet, exercise and healthier lifestyle. Sounds too simple to be true, but these natural methods do not make money for the economy.

Hippocrates said: “Leave your drugs in the pot at the pharmacy if you can’t cure your patient with food”

ayurveda and food

Yoga Works for Over 40s combines Yoga and Ayurveda. If you would like to find out more email contact@yogaworksforover40s.com

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