Ayurveda and what it is

Mother of All Healing—for 5,000 years in India, Ayurveda has been both a science and art of healing that has helped progress other forms of ancient medicine such as Tibetan medicine and traditional Chinese Medicine. It is considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science. Many of the principles of natural healing systems now familiar in the West have their roots in Ayurveda, including homeopathy and Polarity Therapy.

Deriving its meaning from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge), Ayurveda means “the science of life.” Its wisdom reminds us that the entire web of life is intricately interwoven—not just the body, mind, and spirit but to its environment as well. With a unique emphasis on total wellness, the art, and science of Ayurveda work to harmonize our internal and external worlds.


Ayurvedic practice falls under any of its eight branches: 

  • Kaayachikitsa – Internal Medicine
  • Baalachikitsa – Pediatrics
  • Bhuta Vidya – Psychiatry
  • Shalakya Tantra – Ear, Nose and Throat Treatment
  • Shalya Tantra – Surgery
  • Vishagara Vairodh Tantra – Toxicology
  • Jarachikitsa/Rasayana – Geriatrics and Rejuvenation
  • Vajikarana — Aphrodisiac Therapy, Fertility, and Conception


 Ayurveda’s Strategy: Focus on Constitution; Work on Balance

Balance is the natural order; imbalance is disorder. Health is order; disease is disorder. 

The Ayurvedic strategy banks on the concept of universal interconnectedness. And thus, on the dynamics and connectedness of the body’s constitution (prakriti), and the life forces (doshas) around it.

Following this concept, disease is understood to be due to an imbalance or stress in a person’s consciousness. And as such, the goals of treatment aid the person by eliminating impurities, reducing symptoms, increasing resistance to disease, reducing worry and stress, and increasing harmony in life. Its strategy is to encourage lifestyle interventions and habits to regain a balance between the body, mind, spirit, and the environment.

Like everyone’s unique fingerprint, each person has a particular pattern of energy—an individual combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics—which comprises the constitution. This constitution is determined at conception by a number of factors and remains the same throughout one’s life.

Ayurveda also centers on the senses. The five senses serve as the portals between the internal and external realms, as the five great elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth move around and influence the dynamics and balance of our doshas. Ayurveda groups these five elements into three basic types of energy and functional principles that are present in everybody and everything—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.


Balancing the Three Principal Energies

Vata, pitta, and kapha are combinations and permutations of the five elements that manifest as patterns present in all creation. In the physical body, vata is the subtle energy of movement, pitta the energy of digestion and metabolism, and kapha is the energy that forms the body’s structure.

Many factors, both internal and external, act upon us to disturb the balance of our doshas and are reflected as a change in one’s constitution from the balanced state. Examples include one’s emotional state, diet and food choices, seasons and weather, physical trauma, work, and family relationships. Understanding these factors is crucial and a precursor to taking appropriate actions to minimize its effects or eliminate the causes of imbalance and re-establish our original constitution.

Ayurveda, as a science and art of healing that focuses on lifestyle, have benefits that are unique to the practice. Here’s some the major benefits that you can immediately reap from adopting and practicing Ayurveda.

  1. Stress Buster

Ayurveda teaches several methods to release stress: yoga, dinacharya, or waking up early before the sun rises to give you peace of mind; meditation; drinking green tea which has stress properties such as L-theanine to keep you calm and to reduce anxiety.

  1. Aids in Weight Loss

Healthy weight loss comes naturally after detox and adopting a healthier diet.

  1. Balances Hormones

Detox also flush away toxins and fight the chemical imbalance in your body which usually messes up with your hormones!

  1. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is usually caused by poor diet, lack of sleep, and stress. Ayurveda’s herbal treatments, yoga, and meditation promote conditions such as good sleep, a calmer mind, hence, controlling the excessive inflammation. 

  1. Removes Toxins From the Body

Ayurveda consists of practices that cleanse the mind, body, and soul. A vital Ayurvedic intervention called ‘Panchakarma’ is used to get rid of toxins that interfere with the normal functioning of the body.

Ayurveda addresses all aspects of life by understanding the forces and elements that surround and influence everything. But it also recognizes that each of us is unique—responds differently to the many aspects of life, possesses different strengths and weaknesses.

It may be ancient wisdom and practice but it offers renewed access to our natural intelligence. And Ayurveda offers the promise of a more harmonious future for us, people, AND our planet.

Self-care : The biggest secret

[vc_row padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px”][vc_column fade_animation_offset=”45px”][vc_column_text]A new series on Netflix which shows the applied knowledge of Marie Kondo on clearing our living spaces is yet one more acknowledgement that our lives have become cluttered.  From smartphones to social media, to detox diets and beyond, many of us are drowning in a deluge of products and trends that compete for our attention.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px”][vc_column fade_animation_offset=”45px”][vc_column_text]It seems that we are under constant pressure to improve ourselves, our lives and the way we live through yet more and more wellness products. I recently read in an article in the NY Times about procrastination, “It’s almost like you have this moral imperative — if you’re not trying to improve, you’re failing at some level.”

So, how can we cut out the noise and instead, sink that one step deeper into our own innate wisdom, a step that will bring deep healing rather than simply racing to keep up with each and every new ‘wellness’ trend?

By taking care of ourselves and cultivating a healthier mind and body, we are better able to enjoy life more fully. Our relationships with others also benefit, we become clearer about the things that we love and our own personal ‘calling’ (dharma) is revealed.

Let me be clear: spirituality and wellness are not the same things. The promises described above can only result from following a spiritual path. Although tempting, a wellness path means to remove only the stalk from the root of the malaise. It can only provide some temporary relief.

Most of us are familiar with various ‘wellness’ treatments on the market, eg Ayurvedic massage, a gym-based yoga membership or perhaps an Ayurvedic bath with more chemicals than can be digested. Too often, these simply serve to alleviate the symptoms in the short-term but don’t provide any real substantial healing.

It is true that we all have to start somewhere. And certainly, those free yoga classes, easy gym memberships and other wellness products can be a first step in the right direction. At the same time, it is important to be wary of the whole marketing-led wellness industry. For more inspiration on this, see Dana G’s latest article ‘The self-care paradox‘. True healing asks us to cut out the noise for real.

My teacher would often say, ‘We tend to overrate the mind and intellect. While they have a place in our lives we give them far more credit then they deserve.’ In my own teaching, I often advise students to beware the monkey mind.

After more than 2 decades of practising Hatha yoga, I can confirm that it is a path that teaches one gently to turn inwards, with no short cuts or self-deception. It curtails over-dependence on the everyday mind and intellect by asking that we open to the wisdom of the body and all its layers /shadows.

What do I mean when I speak of those layers/shadows?

In both Yoga and Ayurveda, a person is viewed as having different layers through which we act.

There are five of these layers:

  • the physical body,
  • the energetic body,
  • the mental body (lower mind),
  • the intellectual/ intuitive body (higher mind)
  • and the bliss body.

In Sanskrit, these are known as the Annamaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vijnanamaya kosha and Anandamaya Kosha.

In the modern world, we have achieved much through psychology by becoming more willing to listen to the body and to the emotions.  However, this approach only just scratches the surface.

To access our intuition (Vijnanamaya Kosha), it is essential that we develop self-trust and -love and a way of quietening the mind so that we can hear the inner voice.

It is only when those five layers are balanced and can communicate with each other that our inner wisdom can be revealed. The answers that then come from deep within mean that we no longer feel the need to chase after the latest new wellness fad. This is true healing (to be ‘made whole’).


What practical steps can we take to embark on our path into wisdom?


  1. Spend time each day noticing what the eyes are seeing, the hands are feeling, the skin is touching. Our senses connect us to the world. To spend even a few moments each day being clear of what we are tasting, touching, hearing and smelling is a way of noticing how we perceive the world.
  2. When making a decision, step back for a moment out of the rational mind and take time to slow down, breathe or even better, practise some yoga and then ask yourself what solution is needed to move forward with ease.
  3. Notice the effects on relationships with other people after your practice – what kind of answers or actions are coming up.
  4. Be clear about where you want to go and establish a goal.


If you want to deepen and connect your sense of intuition, you can get a taste when immersing yourself in a retreat. Maybe you even feel like coming to Greece with me.

Have a look to find more about The Greek Escape Yoga Retreat and make yourself a gift.