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What Exactly Is Ayurveda?

by Miriam Cihodariu

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Developed more than 3000 years ago in India, Ayurveda is one of the oldest holistic healing systems in the world.

The basics of Ayurveda

The name ‘Ayurveda’ is a combination of the Sanskirt words ayur which translates to life and veda which means science or life. The ancient Indians regarded it as the science or knowledge of life, based on the belief that in order to be healthy, the mind, body, and spirit need to be balanced and in harmony with the universe.

According to its teachings, a human being is made of five basic elements: air, fire, space, earth and water. When they mix in the body, they form three different energies known as doshas. 

These energies are: Pitta dosha (fire and water), Vata dosha (space and air) and Kapha dosha (water and earth). 

 ayurveda herbs

It is believed that when your doshas are out of balance, it can manifest into sickness, anxiety, or a feeling of weakness.

These doshas work in a spectrum, meaning that everyone has at least some level of each doshas. That said, generally, there will be one or two doshas that are dominant. Because of this, Ayurveda requires that each individual’s treatment be specifically tailored to their doshas.

It perceived humans in a holistic sense and prescibe health remedies, practices, and procedures that helps people to achieve a sustainable lifestyle change.

And what happens on a Ayurveda Retreat? 

various ayurveda treatments

Even though Ayurveda is seen more of a preventative measure to ailments, it can also work as a cure or a method of cleansing and healing.

The preventative care and treatment of disease falls under Ayurveda’s eight branches, which include:

Kaayachikitsa – Internal Medicine
Baalachikitsa – Pediatrics
Bhuta Vidya – Psychiatry
Shalakya Tantra – Ear, Nose and Throat Treatment
Shalya Tantra – Surgery (not practiced in the United States today)
Vishagara Vairodh Tantra – Toxicology
Jarachikitsa/Rasayana – Geriatrics and Rejuvenation
Vajikarana — Aphrodisiac Therapy, Fertility, and Conception

While each Ayurvedic treatment are personalized to doshas as well as your health conditions, they generally consists of herbal medicine, dietary plan, and various therapies that release toxins and promote good health. 

ayurveda yoga retreat in sri lanka

Therapies are typcially based on techniques of purification, inculding massage, herbal steams, body wraps, colonic cleanses, and deep rest.

Many of these treatments are most pleasurable, particularly the Shirodhara massage therapy whereby a massage session ends with warm aromatic oils being gently poured over your forehead as you recline in complete relaxation.

Since Ayurveda is believed to be yoga’s ‘sister science’, it is likely that you’ll find many Ayurveda retreats that include yoga, and vice versa.

By combining Ayurveda and yoga on a retreat, you’ll likely to boost your energy levels and improve your overall health by indulging in a balanced Ayurvedic diet, which means that all your meals will be specially prepared based on your dosha. As for your practice on the mat, the sequences will also be specifically designed to fulfill your particular needs.

That said, if you prefer to opt out of yoga, there are many Ayurveda holidays that’ll allow you to indulge solely in Ayurveda treatments during your stay.

How do Ayurveda and yoga intertwine?

combining ayurveda with yoga

The popularity that yoga gained in the Western world is well-known since many in the West choose it as their form of preferred exercise.

Ayurveda enjoys some popularity as well, especially among people with a penchant for alternative medicine. While yoga is regarded as something you do, Ayurveda is considered a complement to it in regards to dietary supplements, aromatherapy, and various herbal teas.

As for how effective these two practices are when mixed, there isn’t a lot of research yet to prove or disprove their health claims. Still, there is one ground-breaking study that shows how the combination of yoga and Ayurveda can stave off cardiovascular disease.

The blend of these two traditional disciplines is, of course, not meant to treat diseases, rather, it will help to preserve your good health. Think of it as preventative therapeutic regime that allows you to be in your best shape and health in a sustainable way.

Who would benefit from going on an Ayurveda Retreat?

a group of people at an ayurveda retreat

While everyone, regardless of age or level of physically health and fitness would benefit tremendously from undergoing Ayurveda treatment, an Ayurveda retreat is especially suitable for:

● Those who are seeking to experience a total health overhaul;

● Those who would like to boost their immune system and instill a healthier lifestyle;

● Anyone who is interested in trying out Complementary & Alternative Medicine(CAM);

● Anyone looking to gain a balance of the mind, body & spirit;

● Those who are looking for a deep relaxation treatment.


Want to experience a truly authentic Ayurveda getaway? Head to where it all began by joining an Ayurveda retreat in Kerala!

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