In terms of physical health, what does balance mean to you? What kind of balance would you like to see in your life?
When a body works in balance, it radiates throughout the body. As Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Health is not the mere absence of disease. It is the dynamic expression of life.” Ayurveda, by promoting balance, makes this kind of expression possible.
The act of expressing life dynamically is multifaceted, as are the benefits of Ayurveda. Here are seven benefits, or displays of balance, that the practice of Ayurveda offers.
1. Staying Well (Preventive Care)
So much of western medicine is focused on the treatment of disease. While western medicine struggles to catch up to the ancient wisdom of preventive care, Ayurvedic medicine has for thousands of years offered practitioners the means to maintain health and stave off disease.
By attuning our diets and lifestyles to our unique constitutions, we maintain the balance within ourselves that maintains good health. The best way to combat disease is to stay well in the first place.
2. Beautiful Skin
Healthy skin is beautiful skin. When we use the harsh chemicals found in so many commercial skin care products, we so mistreat our skin that we may feel compelled to the further use of harsh chemicals to help mask the damage done.
Better, then, to care for our skin by first understanding our skin. Whether you have dry vata skin, sensitive pitta skin, or oily kapha skin, once you understand your skin type, you can find which ancient, natural skin treatments will best balances these qualities and promote healthy, beautiful skin. In addition, by following a healthy diet and a balancing lifestyle, our skin will respond to these Ayurvedic practices, and will naturally balance itself as the entire body is eased into greater balance and health.
3. Improved Concentration
In our contemporary world, with the speed of travel, the overload of information, and the constant, mechanical noise that pervades our lives, it is easy to become distracted, to find our minds disquieted and anxious. When we slow down, when we get to better know and understand our body and the way in which our body’s natural constitutions require balance, our mind follows this lead.
A balancing diet and lifestyle sooth our minds and allow for easier, more focused concentration. Mental balance is no less important than physical balance, and Ayurvedic practices are designed to promote mental balance as much as physical.
Much in the same way our minds lose focus, we stress. Working under pressure, as most of us do, aggravates vata and produces stress. This vata imbalance affects the joints first—and isn’t it so that we often first notice high stress levels by a sore, clenched jaws? Ayurveda, through diet and lifestyle, alleviates stress. These practices ameliorate vata imbalance and soothe pitta.
Ayurveda has a comprehensive, long-term approach to revitalizing energy.
5. Revitalizing Energy
It is so easy in this world to shirk sleep when working toward a deadline, to unmindfully eat foods out of season or even too late in the evening. We all do things that unbalance our bodies and minds, and this leads to sluggishness and lethargy.
Coffee and other stimulants might work in a pinch, in the short term, but Ayurveda has a comprehensive, long-term approach to revitalizing energy. When we understand our natural dosha, our constitution, we can determine how to balance ourselves. A vata person doing vata activity is overloaded with vata, and, could benefit from more elements of pitta and kahpa to balance this excess vata.
Grounding and relaxing vata types is vital to maintaining healthy skin and hair, to preventing stress, and to revitalizing energy. It is so easy to get out of sorts, and being mindful of our body’s natural constitution helps us to restore the balance that leads to relaxation. When you are relaxed, you feel comfortable and content in mind and body, and so this is an important benchmark for physical, mental, and spiritual balance.
Abhyanga, body massage, is also important for relaxation. Whether using self massage practices or pursuing a therapeutic massage, these practices, especially when enhanced with Ayurvedic oils and various heat sources, helps remove excess vata that causes our stress.
Have you ever known a person who seems to have aged beyond their years? We say that they lived a hard life, meaning one of great stress, a life of significant physical, mental and spiritual imbalance. We wear the signs of our health on our faces.
Through balancing doshas, maintaining a healthy relationship among vata, pitta, and kapha, we ameliorate the very stresses and anxieties that wear out our bodies. This harmony not only promotes a healthy, youthful body; Ayurvedic medicine also promotes a vibrant, dynamic mind, even as we age.
For dynamic expression of life, we need healthy, balanced bodies and healthy, balanced minds.
By being mindful of what we eat, the way we live, and the way we handle stress, we can maintain and promote the balance so vital to the dynamic expression of life. The regular practice of Ayurveda can manifest these seven benefits and many more in our lives.