The general perception of Ayurveda is like that of a rigid, self-righteous, strict moral science teacher who says ‘no pain, no gain’ and all that. With all the talk and instructions about DOs and DONTs, pathyas, must and shoulds, bitter medicines, etc., isn’t it true? One may ask. I beg to differ.
Ayurveda, though received with respect and followed with fearful veneration by the ‘believers’ is often misunderstood and alienated as a hard task master. When embraced gently and lovingly, Ayurveda turns out to be a gentle friend for life, through thick and thin.
What do you call someone who tells what you are actually like and what you can do/how you can be, to get the best out of your life? Best friend??
When I first started at the Ayurveda college, I was totally bewildered by the classics. They spoke about elementary stuff. Learning how to brush and clean your tongue (Dinacharya or the “Daily Routine“) is not what you expect in your medical college. And I thought ‘what did I get myself into ?’. But, over the years, as I explore with patience and awe, Ayurveda unravels beautifully, not just as a medical science, but as a life science, leading, protecting and supporting as a guiding light in every walk of life.
Ayurveda is probably the only life science which explores every aspect of life of a common man. And the purpose is not to deprive, but to enable us to fulfill the purusharthas- Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. It is not a restrictive path, it is path of understanding and personal enlightenment. Ayurveda celebrates the uniqueness of each individual by identifying the type (Prakriti) and providing guidelines to the well being of every kind.
Based on this knowledge, I have suggested some small, easy and doable things to my patients and they find the results astonishing. For instance, when patients with Vata predominant prakriti are convinced to include cow’s ghee in their diet, they find it unbelievable to see how their perpetually dry skin looks moisturized naturally.
Some of the regimens mentioned in the classics are so powerful that, even doing 10% of it yields results. For instance, whenever I mention Abhyanga (How to improve your blood circulation using Abhyanga), patients always complain that it is time consuming and impractical. When I push them to try a shorter version of application of oil on the body just 10 mins before bath and using a suitable hair oil at least twice a week, even if it is for half an hour before washing , they come back impressed with its effect on their skin and hair.
Ayurveda promotes the understanding of one's health/ body and mind, and how to nurture it to not just live longer but, live with the best quality of life in harmony with nature. Let’s consider an example; the classics describe the various seasons and the aahara-vihaara (food & lifestyle) suitable or not suitable for that particular season (Rutucharya). (Including details like when to eat Puliyogare and when is the best time to have sex). So, when we look at the whole year, we are almost indulging in everything we like, but at the right time and in the right amount and in the right way. So there is no question of deprivation and Ayurveda is not a prude science. And we get to do everything without falling sick. So, I think I am justified calling Ayurveda ‘ A cool Science'
Ayurvedic medicine, is but a part of this beautiful, all encompassing science of life. Ayurveda promotes a wholesome and happy life. It shows us a path to have fun, enjoy life to the fullest with the gift of good health. Ayurveda gently nudges all of us to understand, love and respect oneself and do the right thing to nourish our body, mind and soul.
Ayurveda is a friend, indeed! Let’s be BFF with Ayurveda!
Dr Anupama Santhosh
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