A Beginner's Guide to Ayurveda

Posted on February 05, 2019 in health

A Beginner's Guide to Ayurveda

At a time in history when we're typically more overstimulated, undernourished, on edge and stretched thinner than ever, is there an ancient intervention to help create balance in an increasingly hectic world?

Ayurveda, an age-old wellness protocol, deserves a closer look.

It’s a 5,000-year-old system of natural wellness that aims to bring our bodies and minds into balance. The idea is that by working to bring balance specific to each body, we hold the power to optimize our ability to thrive.

History of Ayurveda, in a Nutshell

Ayurveda is alive today (and growing in popularity) because of its ability to withstand the test of time.

A sister school of yoga, Ayurveda roughly translates to the knowledge or “science of life.” First originating in the Vedic culture of India, many consider it to be the oldest health science. And while Ayurveda comes from the East, anyone can practice its principles of wellness, regardless of geographic location, religion or economic status.

Spawning from the Vedic texts that celebrate the elements of life, including fire, wind, water, as well as Mother Earth and its plants and animals, Ayurvedic practices aim to harmonize internal and externals worlds.

Perhaps Ayurveda’s biggest threat came when the British Crown colonized India in the 1800 and 1900s. While Britain tried to push Ayurveda to the side,it remained alive through traditional living practices in rural parts of the country.

Today, it’s considered an accepted form of alternative and complementary health support around the globe, and scientific studies are starting to catch up to what the ancients have known for millennia. Ayurveda has benefits.  

Basic Principles of Ayurveda

Unlike a one-size-fits-all approach that fails to address the huge diversity among people, Ayurveda takes an individual’s unique makeup into account when considering holistic solutions.

Ayurvedic practices, mainly consisting of diet, lifestyle and rejuvenation and “cleansing” actions to promote a more balanced body and mind, seek to create equilibrium for a person’s dosha, or unique personal constitution.

The three main “types,” or doshas, include:
Vata (wind)
Pitta (fire)
Kapha (water)

Understanding an individual’s dosha makeup helps us better understand our tendencies, what we’re attracted to and what throws us out of balance. On the flip side, it also helps us know the herbs, foods and practices that may best support us in moving toward greater balance.

And to create this balance, the foundation of Ayurveda tells us that we need to focus on agni, or digestive fire. Overall health and maintaining digestive health has been a keystone of Ayurvedic practices for 5,000 years, something our modern society is now focusing on as well.  But according to Ayurveda, the functions of agni include so much more.

How to Apply Ayurveda Today: Top Herbs, Oils & Other Go-To Ingredients

Aside from establishing a morning routine that you love to create and maintain focus, there are also specific botanicals considered a vital part of Ayurveda. While many have been utilized over the ages, here are some of the most important go-tos in Ayurveda today...

  1. Triphala

Used for well over 2,000 years, triphala is a staple of traditional Ayurveda, thanks to its well-rounded benefits. In India, it’s considered the greatest and most versatile of all herbal formulations.
Derived from the dried powder of the following three fruits: amla, haritaki and bibhitaki, triphala is a treasured digestive tonic.

  1. Ashwagandha

The most popular and most-researched adaptogenic herb ever, ashwagandha is known as “strength of the stallion” in India, thanks to its benefits. It’s also sometimes called “Indian ginseng” because of its ability to promote a healthy response to stress.

Since it’s an adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha helps promote homeostasis in the body, always working toward balance, even during times of stress. The herb also generally promotes a healthy memory, mental clarity and concentration.

  1. Holy Basil

Also known as tulsi, holy basil’s historic uses generally includes stress relief and  immune system support. It even helps promote healthy energy levels, restful sleep and a positive outlook.

  1. Fenugreek

Treasured as an Ayurvedic “cleansing” herb and discovered by the Ayurvedic tradition thousands of years ago, fenugreek is another popular Ayurvedic cornerstone.

  1. Turmeric

With 10,000-plus studies on turmeric, we know today that this spice, and the compound curcumin found within it, helps support a healthy immune system and healthy joints overall.  

But for well over 4,000 years, Ayurvedic herbalists looked to turmeric to “purify” the body and promote a thriving system.

  1. Frankincense   

A time-honored herb used for thousands of years, frankincense is an important Ayurvedic botanical that can generally help support a healthy immune system and support a healthy response to inflammation.

  1. Bacopa

Bacopa is a staple of traditional Ayurveda, where it’s believed to bring balance to the mind. It’s one of the main components of brahmi oil, a concoction of bacopa, gotu kola and sesame oil that’s traditionally applied to the crown of the head to support meditation and prayer.

  1. Rosemary

A time-honored “attentiveness” Ayurvedic herb, rosemary is amazing. A side perk? It’s easy to grow.  

  1. Bhumyamalaki (Phyllanthus amarus)

A bitter herb historically used in Ayurveda for its beneficial effects on the liver, it’s used in Ayurveda to bring balance when Pitta and Vata qualities are on overdrive and need to be pacified.

  1. Ginger

Traditionally used as a warming spice, ginger contains antioxidants and compounds like gingerol, shogaol, paradol and zingerone.

  1. Andrographis

The Ayurvedic “King of Bitters,” andrographis is also known as kalmegh and is also utilized in Traditional Chinese Herbalism.

  1. Olive Leaf

Another key “cleansing” herb in the Ayurvedic tradition, olive leaf has a long history in natural traditions.

  1. Arjuna

An herb traditionally used for general circulatory support with a focus on the heart, it also typically promotes healthy collagen levels in the body.

  1. Shatavari

A go-to herb for women in Ayurveda, shatavari is said to support the female body during key times in a woman’s life.

 

Ayurveda is a complex wellness system, so we want to help you get off on the right foot. It's easy to start incorporating some of these ancient Ayurvedic herbs into your life.

In addition to adding these herbs to your diet, one of the best places to get started is with Ancient Probiotics Ultimate, the revolutionary herbal blend to combine 100 billion powerful, potent probiotics with some of the most beloved Ayurvedic herbs that have stood the test of time.