On a chill November day, a flash of understanding occurred when I understood that Ayurveda was as much about lifestyle as about healing treatments and herbal supplements.
Ayurveda: Subtle Analysis of Whatever’s Happening Inside
Seven years ago, I experienced my first Ayurvedic consultation and was hooked for life. It was so thorough and provided a perspective on my health, immunity and personal constitution I had never experienced with a doctor in the US. In my childhood, I went when I was sick and was diagnosed as either better or worse, healthy or ill.
Here, the analysis extended to an in depth description of what was happening with my digestion, the nature of my temperament and why I shouldn’t be eating tomatoes. For all you pasta lovers out there, he wasn’t telling me that tomatoes were bad or unhealthy or that I was allergic to them, but that they didn’t suit my body very well due to their intrinsic heating properties. All this through reading the pulse of my wrist!
I visited Ayurvedic doctors regularly since that first encounter — on one hand, as the seasons changed, I wanted to find some seasonal balance and relief. On the other hand, this system of complementary medicine fascinated me with its light, deft touch and penetrating analysis. The different doctors intrigued me too — each with a new take on and representation of this ancient science. So when Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar visited to lead our latest Panchakarma Program and several friends complimented her approach, I had to meet with her, though I was not sick.
Ayurveda as a Preventive Approach to Health
First off, why meet an Ayurvedic health practitioner if you’re not sick you may well be asking…Ayurveda has a beautiful approach to preventative health care. Do we wait till we’ve broken down on the highway to take our car for a check up? So why wait till you fall sick to care of your most previous vehicle? From an Ayurvedic perspective, the body changes as seasons come and go. So with each new season, it’s wise to get a fresh check-up on one’s health. This approach gives us the knowledge to meet the seasons with care and fend off any problems before a mole-hill does actually turn into a mountain.
My Ayurvedic Consultation
The consultation was illuminating. While I was expecting a seasonal regimen of herbs and perhaps recommendations for an Ayurvedic treatment, I got something much more. I found a fresh appreciation for Ayurveda as lifestyle-based therapy. Dr. Manisha spent a substantial portion of our visit discussing how exercise could relieve an excess of pitta (heat) — how this would affect my skin, my brain and my energy levels. And when she shared that i has to work up a sweat daily not just for now, but that this advice was to prevent potential problems ten years down the line, I was really touched — here was a sensitive, long-term approach to wellness.
And it’s working. While she did suggest a couple of herbal supplements, which I’m trying, more powerful than the pills was that she moved me to start a new exercise routine that has brought fantastic results — greater strength, more energy and less winter worries like dry skin and colds. After all, should I be surprised? Lifestyle is one of the three pillars of Ayurveda and one of the strongest tools to achieving vibrant health? And yet, Ayurveda never fails to surprise me…
So hats off and a big thank you to Ayurveda as a preventative approach to health, to Dr. Manisha and to my new daily yoga and dance workout.
Maybe working up a sweat could help you too? Or a personal consultation with an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner?
Also, if you’re in the neighborhood and would like some ideas, we have some great walking trails, expressive movement classes and the occasional dance workout 🙂
Let us know in the comments what works for you Ayurvedically in winter and how you like to exercise.
Also, we’ve created a new guide for those who would like to understand how Ayurveda can help you feel stronger, healthier and more alive. It’s broken down into 8 chapters with simple language, so we hope you enjoy it without getting stressed out by the terminology.
Andrew Keaveney is an Art of Living teacher and Director of Digital Media at the Art of Living.
He graduated with honors from Stanford University with a major in film and Buddhist studies before moving to the Art of Living International Center in Bangalore, India, where he spent four years involved in service projects, film making, deepening his understanding of meditation and yoga and studying Sanskrit and Vedic ceremonies.
Andrew speaks several languages and has taught in South Asia, Europe and North America. In addition to teaching and video production, he also has an interest in creative writing and watercolor painting.
“Connecting with more awareness to others, to oneself and to the present moment is just one of the joys of these workshops.”