The principles of Ayurveda stretch way back. About 5,000 years, in fact. They are principles that have ingrained themselves in many a foreign ideology, and are still widely used for their benefits towards one’s health and wellbeing today.
Like most things with a long history, Ayurvedic treatments weren’t favourably perceived all the time. During the British occupation of India for instance, Ayurveda was widely neglected and, in some cases, even supressed in favour of the advancements modern science had made at the time. After Indian independence took place in 1947, Ayurvedic principles were reintroduced into society, but it wasn’t until very recently, in 2014, that Ayurvedic treatments became part of Indian healthcare once again.
While treatments themselves continue to baffle modern science for their spiritual and intangible benefits, the fundamentals of Ayurveda are to some extent based on common sense. ‘Ayurveda’ means the science of life (Ayur meaning life, Veda meaning science), and it is by using these sciences of life that one can help improve it.
According to Ayurveda, the three fundemental energies of our life, as with any other part of nature, are Wind, Fire and Earth. Each one of us has our own unique balance of dominant energies. If you’re more Wind dominant, you’re slim, energetic and enthusiastic. Fire relates to the more intelligent and full-of-life among us, while Earth pertains to those more relaxed and methodical. Though we have all three, we each possess different degrees of these elements.
These different degrees are called your ‘dosha’, and might occur as follows. When Wind is balanced, we can be spirited and creative, but when a balance is not achieved, one might experience anxiety, innsomnia, or have difficulty focusing on tasks. Fire, when in balance, favours the friendly, leaderly and oratory qualities within us, but can cause digestive problems and make the person irritable if out of balance. Earth makes us kind and supportive, but can lead to sinus congestion and weight gain.
Chances are, our elements are more out of balance than we’d like them to be. The basic purpose of Ayurveda is to establish which elements are more dominant than others and work on achieving a balance to your dosha by introducing words of wisdom towards one’s diet, exercise, herbal intake, music listened to and meditation.
Massage treatments are also a central part of the restorative process, often essential in attaining a dosha and improving your way of life. Massages are specifically designed to sooth the body through touch, while oils applied to the body are just as important, as they replenish any lost through age and aggravation, contributing to strong and healthy skin.
These oils are chosen depending on your dosha, as does the style and flow of the massage itself. Benefits can include anything from improving the body’s circulation and alleviating the tolls of a medical condition to placating stress and boosting the immune system.