With origins tracing back to 5000 BCE, Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system for natural healing. Its practice was suppressed during the years of British occupation in India, and with the global expansion of modern medicine, however, Ayurvedic treatments have recently seen resurgence both in India and abroad.
Ayurveda healing centres and specialised spa treatments can now be found all over the world. The retreat named last year’s “World’s Best Spa” by Conde Nast Traveler, Ananda in the Himalayas offers a very popular Ayurvedic Rejuvenation package. With this programme guests go through detoxifying Ayurvedic experiences, and speak with trained experts for personalised Ayurvedic lifestyle recommendations.
I spoke with Dr Shijoe Mathew Anchery, an Ayurvedic Physician who practices at Ananda, to learn what advantages Ayurvedic practice might have on each of our lives. It is his belief that, “Ayurveda is an owner’s manual for the versatile machine called human body. It tells us when to wake up, when to sleep and almost everything to do or not to do in between.”
A bit surprised by this overarching recommendation, I asked Dr Anchery what the primary goal of Ayurvedic practice should be. He told me, “Ayurvedic approach to wellness is holistic. It focuses on prevention, and not just cure. It focuses on maintaining equilibrium between mind, body and soul which is the key to health.” So where modern medicine is primarily concerned with the treatment of illness and disease, Ayurvedic focus is on overall health — physical, mental and spiritual, and on disease prevention. He went on to tell me, “It is a pity we see Ayurveda only as a trouble shooting mechanism. Seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner will help us develop self awareness and also help us develop a healthy way of living in sync with the nature through proper diet and appropriate activities.”
Ayurveda is the science of life, which is seen in the word’s literal meaning:
“Ayur” for life, and “Veda” meaning science or knowledge. It offers wisdom to help people realise their full human potential.
The goal is to identify a person’s ideal state of balance, determine where they are out of balance, and offer dietary, herbal, and active interventions to help re-establish that balance.
When I asked Dr Anchery if he felt this ancient practice fits in with modern medicine, he replied,
“There is a clear cut division between what Ayurveda can do and what modern medicine can do for us.
Ayurveda is pro-active not reactive. It has solution for all chronic lifestyle disorders, metabolic issues, auto immune, allergies, intolerances, etc, which are rooted in diet, activities and stress. Modern medicine is highly effective with acute conditions, life threatening diseases and symptomatic management. In chronic issues like diabetes or cholesterol, the level can be managed by modern medicine very fast and Ayurveda can help plan the correct activity, cleansings, diet and herbs that will slowly and steadily improve natural metabolism of glucose/fat and maintain the levels without chemicals or insulin.”
When I asked Dr Anchery if he has noticed the trend towards using more holistic healing treatments, he told me, “More and more people today are looking at preventing rather than treating illnesses. With Ayurveda this objective is achievable. To ‘invest in myself’ with long term good health is an objective which most of our guests at Ananda state clearly when they get here.”