The Introduction to Ayurveda
Have you ever wondered what Ayurveda means? Its roots lie in the Sanskrit language, where 'Ayu' means the lifespan and 'Veda' means wisdom or philosophy. It's a holistic system of healing that includes natural supplements, therapies, medical oils, massages, Yoga, special diets to achieve wellbeing. Ayurveda is the science of life incorporated in 8 components or branches of study.
How can Ayurveda help you?
Ayurveda is one of the oldest forms of an established health system that advanced during the 'Vedic Period' in history. The science is five millennia old, with existential evidence of it dating to the Indus Valley civilization. Ayurvedic traditions from the Himalayas have existed from prehistoric times. The medicine traditionally revolves around the imbalance of the three doshas or bio-energies and unraveling wellbeing. Ayurveda emphasizes on prevention of imbalances and protection of health.
Scholars like Caraka and Sushruta, one of the earliest practitioners, organized this knowledge into textbooks Caraka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, respectively. From the time of its origin, five thousand years ago, Ayurveda has stood the test of time and has proven to be one of the safest systems of health and longevity. Currently, Ayurveda is seen as a sister science of Yoga with a rich source of health information for individualized health care.
Ayurveda is a life of excitement and peace; some are driven by wanting to achieve everything in a single lifetime, whereas others enjoy the offerings as they tread through life.
Introduction to the orators
Vaidya Jayagopal Parla is the Founder and Director of Athreya Ayurvedic Integrative Health Center and the Co-Founder and Vice President of Athreya Herbs. He is an internationally known speaker, educator, and Ayurvedic and Yogic practitioner.
Vaidya Jay completed his bachelor's from Bangalore University, India, and master's from Rajiv Gandhi University, India, and Southern California University of Health Sciences. With years of extensive clinical, teaching, and research experience, he worked as a Professor at American universities of Alternate and Complementary medicine and as a visiting faculty at the Japanese School of Ayurveda.
R.A Leslie - R. A. is the founder at Seeuatnoon.com. She's an International life coach who has authored multiple books, a public speaker, and ultimately a mother of three. Fascinated about what makes people truly happy and curious to explore more, she spent the last thirty years transforming distressed lives and restricting beliefs to lives filled with purpose.
Is it true that each person needs a different lifestyle according to their body? Our speakers will discuss how Ayurveda offers a particular Ayurvedic lifestyle for each body type in this podcast.
Introduction to the Podcast
At Athreya, it is our priority to bring Ayurveda to global awareness. Today Vaidya Jay is in conversation with R. A Leslie about the importance of enthusiasm in an Ayurvedic Journey.
Excerpt from the podcast
“Life is an amazing journey that allows us to choose in terms of nutrition, exercise, relationships, and so much more. At the beginning of an Ayurvedic practice and expansion, you will see your relationships, career, and life in a better perspective. When you decide to change, you will also begin to question what you are putting into your body.”
Namaste everyone, welcome back to the Athreya Herbs podcast. I hope you're as excited as I am about this podcast because it's our third podcast with R.A. This is unique. After all, we are going to talk about a personalized Ayurvedic journey. How R.A. started her Ayurvedic journey, and how she could hold on to it and inspire others. For those joining for the first time, I am Vaidya Jay, an Ayurvedic practitioner, a teacher of Ayurveda, and a firm believer that Ayurveda is a tool for health and longevity. I have R.A. with me, who is an inspiration. She's a coach, author, speaker, and her main ability is coaching. She has both individual and group coaching retreats; she's using these coaching techniques by journaling and dialogue. That's what R.A. is bringing to this discussion we are having. Thank you, R.A., for joining us.
R.A. - Thank you for having me, Namaste.
Vaidya - Namaste. We discussed our path to the ideal Ayurvedic journey, which can be personal to our listeners. First, we talked about momentary excitement, but now, I want to talk about enthusiasm. Does enthusiasm play a role in keeping the Ayurvedic program going? Or did you feel your enthusiasm building as you began to follow some of the Ayurvedic protocols?
R.A. - I was excited in the sense that excitement was more enthusiastic. The enthusiasm lasts and doesn’t dissipate. I had results immediately, and I believe that if people did one thing a day, they would see the change and feel better. It is a commitment, but enthusiasm is there every day. I'm still very enthusiastic.
Vaidya - You said it very correctly; one small thing, maybe changing the diet in a certain way or doing Ayurvedic oral hygiene, such as scraping the tongue or drinking hot water, brings mind-body conjunction. I think that's the secret of all these ancient healing techniques like Yoga and Ayurveda: they seize the opportunity to bring mind and body together and then heighten the experience, which is a source of enthusiasm. Won’t you agree with that?
R.A. - I agree with you. When I started with you last September, I didn't practice oral hygiene. I had done that intermittently over the years, but it wasn't consistent. Doing the Ayurvedic practice and meditation has to be a choice. I've become more interested in oil pulling, tongue scraping, and nasal oils. We discussed not having people feel like they are doing too much at once for anything because the momentary excitement comes in. If we do one thing at a time and are gentle with ourselves, we are more likely to lean into trying to up-level the Ayurveda practice. I feel guilty when I doubt, but I don't punish myself if I don't oil pull one day because I'm doing nasal oil or have another commitment.
Vaidya - That's true. What you said felt like schooling; it’s all about relearning what we have not learned as part of self-care. Nobody in school taught us about it; they only taught us how to be successful and have a tremendous athletic life, but there was no attempt to teach us self-care. It's like going to school again and learning the alphabets of self-care. I started with one thing, and now it feels like I'm graduating one self-care technique at a time. I went from tongue scraping to oil pulling, and now I'm doing an even more advanced kit. You said rightly people think that they did not do it yesterday or are not enthusiastic today. The enthusiasm is not based on your judgment; it is based on your mind-body needs, and it is necessary to continue the effort to support the body with these baby steps. I like what you said; one doesn’t have to punish, criticize or judge themself for not doing one thing. We know that life is a combination of perfection and imperfection; balance is what is important. Thank you for bringing that point. What, according to you, is the source of enthusiasm? We don't want momentary excitement; we want a sensory excitement that leads to enthusiasm. Let's take one practice. You've been doing tongue scraping for a while now. What is the enthusiasm that brings the tongue scraping back to you?
R.A. - The important thing about not punishing ourselves is that if we keep the enthusiasm and treat ourselves as that child, we will be more gentle with ourselves. We never learned the fundamentals in school on self-compassion, self-care. The tongue scraping works; you feel cleaner or better, and you notice that it's a good indicator of what to eat and what not to eat. When one scrapes the tongue., it feels pure, and in other mornings, it can feel like getting rid of toxins. With a little bit of research, which I did on my own, I found out that oil pulling strengthens your teeth, kills bacteria. If we do one small thing every day and keep adding to it, we will become more conscious human beings with our environment, relationships, recycling. We will consciously, critically think about how we want to treat this body that is a gift.
Vaidya - That is a gift, and undoubtedly, we've taken it for granted. Our body is a gift where the relation between the body and mind changes. Most people live in a paradigm that the mind is the master, the body is the servant, and the body gets abused from start to the end of the day. It is continuously sleeved into doing things it does not want to do because the mind needs excitement, and this is the relationship we are trying to redefine. You stated that the tongue scraping caused you to make healthier dietary and food choices. It all boils down to our experiences, and Ayurveda is here to make every experience a positive experience. The tongue is an experiential organ for tasting and talking. When we don't do tongue scraping, the taste is hindered, and in that situation, the perception of the taste, the relation to the taste, and the emotions connected with the taste all change. So the4 R.A purpose of the great sages in promoting a lifestyle based on routine, herbs, diet, and detoxification is to heighten and balance our sensory experiences so that every experience is always positive and brings body and mind together rather than separating them. Would you agree with that, R.A.?
R.A. - I agree with you. I think what happens, happens slowly and also quickly. One starts to respect the body and mind and naturally wants to raise questions and look more into it because they can't explain the internal joy, happiness, and wellness they consistently practice. If one falls backward and doesn’t do it, they don't have to punish themselves. One has to treat themselves as a child who wants to learn and grow.
Vaidya - Your time and space are differently defined when you heighten your sensory experiences to a positive level. I know that all of our listeners here are saying, what is this? How can we get this? We want to tell all our listeners that R.A and I will be going through some of these daily routine techniques with scientific validation throughout this 15-week podcast series. At this time, we are talking about how health is not a one-day phenomenon where you take care of yourself. It is not a destination, it's a journey, and I want to emphasize this point. I would ask R.A. to put her senses on this. People think that they did something for themselves; they took some supplements, some superfoods. We'll talk about superfoods; R.A. has a good perspective on them. What is your opinion on the Ayurvedic lifestyle or the Ayurvedic way of life being a journey?
R.A. - Life is an amazing journey that allows us to choose nutrition, exercise, relationships, and so much more. At the beginning of an Ayurvedic practice and expansion, you will see your relationships, career, and life in a better perspective. When you decide to change, you will also question what you are putting into your body. Trust is also important when there is so much information; there are many supermarkets, stores, and online products, and to be defensive, everyone doesn't know what to believe or trust. One wants to find the right practitioner and the right products. By trusting you, and Athreya I have gotten the feeling and the results. I trust the product, and people must know where their products come from and how they're sourced. Superfoods are overwhelming because there's marketing, misinformation, and some things that might benefit one person but not everybody. I'm not an expert on Doshas, but I know that Ayurveda looks at what each individual would need. If they are taking a superfood and their practitioner recommends not eating it, they may require a different type of superfood, such as Maca or Ashwagandha. I’ve had great results with Ashwagandha. I think that's the education and the learning with Ayurveda; somebody can say, “today, I'm going to learn about Maca, Ashwagandha.” “I'm going to learn and use the herb of the month?” People have access to learn before they jump and make a decision about something. Learn about it, and make sure you understand the resources.
Vaidya - That is the specialty of Ayurveda. It will carve out an Ayurvedic lifestyle that is atomic or tailor-made for an individual because everybody is different in many ways. Our mental makeup, choices are different. Ayurveda also acknowledges that one’s physical makeup is important. There are these body types: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. There is a lot of information about these body types out there; all of our listeners can attempt to get some good information. We also have a section of these body types on our Facebook page, and one can go and slowly start attempting to learn about this. I don't want anyone to get overwhelmed because there is so much information available. There is so much information that anyone can get confused. Simplify, and start taking one step at a time, as R.A. said. One’s going to learn about body types. We'll have a series of clear information about body types and how to know a body type by observing some of the physical traits in the future. That is another topic to be taken up. Introduce yourself little by little, take one baby step at a time. The supplements we are talking about are made to match one’s psychological and emotional situation, body, and physical state. A facilitator is needed until one gets complete knowledge or empowers themselves with the self-care techniques. There are several Ayurvedic practitioners and communities, which one can start looking. Athreya is itself a community-based website that aims to promote a community that supports one another and ensures that we choose what our bodies and minds require. Superfoods are great. I tell my clients that superfoods are great, but they are toxic if they don't digest them. Right?
R.A. - I'm so glad you said that. I have seen clients who had cabinets filled with pills, and I would recommend that people do not take any supplements unless they are going to a practitioner who understands their body and the body’s needs. I can't imagine how many things go undigested, and it's not the person's fault; they're misled or seduced by some quick slick marketing.
Vaidya - That is the beauty of the Ayurvedic life journey we are discussing. It is not supplement-driven healthcare; it is a journey that does not stop with a single supplement taken for a lifetime, which completely defeats the purpose of the Ayurvedic routine. Ayurvedic routine is a non or minimal supplement-based routine, and it’s based on daily techniques. We just touched base on some of them. Tongue scraping, oil pulling, oil massage is not a supplement; it is something that one brings in as part of their journey to improve the day to day experiences. On top of that, if one has something in their family or exists as a precondition, then the supplements may be useful, provided it's been facilitated by a practitioner. There are only a few herbs in Ayurveda that you can choose, irrespective of your body type. The rest of them has to be tailor-made for a person's needs. I want to emphasize what R.A. said: look for Ayurvedic information less motivating towards product purchases. One buys it and doesn’t know how to take it, then in no time, their cabinet is filled with all these supplements, and they’re confused about which one and when to take it. I'll tell you and all our listeners a story; about five years ago, a mother of two came to me with IKEA bags full of supplements and an additional carton that is foot by foot in size and has supplements. She told me that she takes this because her practitioner suggested and another nutritionist suggested this. I asked her, do you feel good? She said I don't know. I said it's not working for you because everything you're taking with mind thinking will help me with my foggy thinking, energy, and PMS symptoms. If you go keep on doing that, there’s no end to it. An Ayurvedic approach is holistic, not piece by piece, which is why this journey is exciting, not momentarily, but for a lifetime. We can take up the Ayurvedic journey one step at a time, with the routine as the guiding force. Most people come to Ayurveda with a health condition. They think they want to try alternative medicine, but then they learn about Ayurveda, a rich source of health and longevity, and they start exploring. That's how most people come into it, but some of them do come from a health perspective. They are healthy, doing Yoga, talking about Ayurveda in one of their yoga classes, and then learning more about it. The number of people who come to Ayurveda with no health problems but want to improve their health and see Ayurveda as a journey is probably small. 5% to 10% of people who come to Ayurveda are of that category, but the remaining all have some health issues. R.A., you had mentioned that you had some health issues that you wanted to take care of when you came to me. We first interacted with each other three years ago. You followed some things and couldn’t follow some because of life situations that were happening. I think it was ideal for you to go through what you did and then return to Ayurveda. That brought a new dimension to your Ayurvedic journey, would you say that? I just wanted to tell our listeners because they think they need to give up if it doesn't work.
R.A. - I agree with you. I would like to see the 5% that are healthy to be the 80% because had I the information 20 years ago, I would have taken and applied it. I believe that the people who consider the 8000-year history of this practice decide to live a healthy lifestyle. Even if it's not 100% Ayurveda, they can still make changes and conscious choices to live a healthy lifestyle. Once you choose to live a healthy lifestyle, you'll lead down the right path.
Vaidya - I agree. We want to tell our listeners that it's okay if you fall off the wagon. As we started this conversation, Ayurveda is a motherly science. It's full of love and patience; it waits and wants you to come back. It will still embrace you the same way it embraced you when you come back for the first time. Our listeners don't have to feel that they tried Ayurveda 30 years ago as part of the meditation, and it’s just not practical. Ayurveda is one step at a time towards one’s health and longevity, and it inspires 100 years of living. That's what I've been telling you.
R.A. - People don’t have to fear. In this culture, when they consider an alternative lifestyle, they often fear it will harm their lives, implying that they will lose their entertaining parties and other activities. That's not true. It all comes back to "this is my practice, and maybe one day a week if I'm going out with friends or to a wedding, I'll have a specific dessert, cocktail, or something." It's important to look at the lifestyle of wellness as a practice and not a punishment for making you do something. I say the word punishment because that's where the momentary excitement comes in. People become excited, then fearful because they have to commit. It's a nice, long engagement.
Vaidya - I know that you work with many children, and you have raised your children well. I'd like to know if there is a specific age at which you recommend beginning Ayurveda. I will give my answer once I listen to yours.
R.A. - I would start immediately because those babies are being given toxic-colored food. That's why we have the problem with allergies, as the allergies are rampant. If women, moms, and caregivers were educated about this, it wouldn’t be so. About 30 years ago, when my kids were babies, I would steam the vegetables, blend them in the blender, and give them food.
Vaidya - That is Ayurveda in itself and is beautifully done. The point that you said that have them start as soon as possible is true. In Ayurveda, childcare starts right after birth, and the child is given oil treatment or massages daily; the mother is also given oil massages. There is no start date for this beautiful science. I completely agree, and I want all of our listeners to know that if you do it, your children will see you doing it, and they will become a part of this wonderful journey you have embarked. You will leave a legacy behind, and they can follow through. It is a wonderful way of connecting the entire family by doing things meant for the upliftment of each family member.
R.A. - It's wonderful to learn about new cultures. We talked about so much in the scriptures, and all of it is a beautiful process. I want to say one last thing to the audience: I know we live in a crazy time, but Ayurveda can look at your schedule, and once you start slowly implementing this practice, you'll be able to make time and use your time more wisely, and tell yourself, "I'm going to cook this today, so I have my lunch ready for tomorrow." I'm going to make that time simply by getting off social media or doing something that's wasting time. This is also time management, where we learn how to use our time wisely.
Vaidya - As I said, that relation of time and space changes when you start doing Ayurvedic protocols. There’s no question about it, and it’s my personal experience as well. Your time becomes different, and the mind with that much anxiety looks at life differently. I'm excited because, in the next podcast, we will talk more about eating and how a healthy lifestyle starts with eating. We will take up one or two daily routine things as well. I'm excited about the following few podcasts. R.A., thank you for your time. You bring in such depth to this podcast. I am grateful and hope that our listeners are also excited to take this journey of Ayurveda and carve out their lifestyle based on Ayurvedic principles. Thank you so much, everyone. Namaste.
R.A. - Thank you, Namaste.
Internalization helps an individual to attain a healthy lifestyle. It is a way for good health. Are you ready to internalize? How far can you go to change set habits and lifestyles?
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