What is Ayurveda? This mystical and exotic name originates from India and means the science of life, which has been around for over 5000 years. The term ‘Ayurveda’ is made up of two words: “Ayu”, which means “life” and “Veda” – meaning “knowledge”. The purpose of Ayurveda is to achieve balance, spiritual and physical harmony. Currently, Ayurveda is experiencing a revival. People all over the world, by immersing themselves in ancient Hindu philosophy, are discovering the power of a holistic approach to health. The secret of Ayurveda lies in the realization of how easily one can influence their health and life, how to shape, control and extend it to enjoy a long life without stress, pain, and diseases.
Ayurveda – the mother of medicine
Ayurveda, as one of the oldest health systems, is often referred to as the mother of medicine. Thanks to its approach and practices, it has become an inspiration for the Chinese,Tibetan and other medical systems. Ayurveda is the oldest healing technique in the world and is now recognized as an alternative form of medicine. Its basic practice comes from the theory stating that to achieve health and well-being, the body, mind, and soul must exist in perfect harmony with one another. It is crucial to understand that, instead of curing illnesses, like the Western medicine does, it makes much more sense to support and reinforce body’s self-healing properties. The self-healing process might take longer, but its results are long-term and ensure a general improvement of the quality of life.
Ayurveda has got three underlying principles. The first one is a holistic approach to health, in other words, a concept of human body, soul and mind creating a unity. If one of those elements is affected, the balance of the remaining two is distorted. The second underlying principle of Ayurveda is an individualised perception of every human being. In the holistic healing system it is not only the physical symptoms, but also emotions and experiences which affect our well-being and inner balance. Apart from our genes, there are other factors influencing who we are: our environment and the people we interact with, intellectual stimuli and our life experiences. In Ayurveda, all factors are important in order to be able to find the cause of physical and psychological problems and determine the optimal lifestyle, diet, relaxation techniques, and even methods of treating diseases for each person. The third, and the most important principle of Ayurveda is the concept of five elements. It assumes that the whole universe is composed of the energy of space, air, fire, water, and earth. The features of these five elements serve to determine everything that is within our body, in our food, or in our surroundings.
Which dosha are you?
In each of us there is a combination of five elements, which, by forming pairs, create a particular dosha. Ayurveda distinguishes between three doshas: Vata – the combination of air and ether, Pitta – water with fire and Kapha – water with earth. One of the doshas is a dominant one and to a great extent influences our lives, appearance, bodies, emotional structure and even relations or talents. Being aware of one’s dominant dosha can help us understand ourselves, discover a balanced lifestyle, learn techniques and ways of taking care of the mind and body to ensure health, happiness, and balance.
In India, Prana is considered as the “breath of life”. It is believed to greatly affect our physical condition and emotional state, as well as to be the key in understanding the way our mind works. That is why the practice of Pranayama, that is, the practice of correct way of breathing, is extremely important part of Ayurveda and considered to have a potential as the method of self-healing. Deep breath not only calms down the mind but it also oxygenates the body, lowers heart rate, reduces anxiety and relaxes muscles. Our brain needs three times more oxygen than the rest of our body, that is why with oxygenation through concious breathing we can improve brain’s effectiveness, increase our cognitive abilities and stimulate its creativity. According to the principles of Ayurveda, the way we breathe is closely connected with Prana. If our breath is disturbed and irregular, it can make us feel anxious, when it is calm and rhythmic – we feel relaxed. It should be kept in mind that our every thought and action has impact on our breathing and the other way around – each breath can alter our way of thinking. It is vital to be aware of that, particularly today, when our hectic lifestyles and over-stimulation can cause excessive stress and fatigue.
Ayurveda in practice
How to take advantage of this wonderful natural science in contemporary world? Let’s try to look at ourselves from such holistic perspective. Let’s listen to our body and mind, let’s analyse our daily habits and let’s think what we can do to prevent illnesses and find balance in our lives. A consultation with Ayurveda specialist may be just what you need: it is much easier to fully understand oneself after talking to and learning from an expert. During the consultation you will receive dietary guidelines, instructions concerning daily routine, breathing exercises – all of which will be compatible with your dosha. The road to understanding the needs of your body and to calming down your mind leads through the domain of Ayurvedic therapy, which can be perceived as a mindful, self-exploring journey.
Ayurvedic therapy or Ayurvedic massage?
The benefits of Ayurvedic massages are more and more frequently recognized by people around the world. They are often referred to as ‘therapy’, because apart from its relaxing properties they can stimulate and improve body’s natural self-cleansing and self-healing abilities. Ayurvedic therapists work not only with the body, but also have extensive knowledge about chakras (energy centres), prana (life force) and meridians (energy paths). Possessing this knowledge, one can stimulate the flow of energy and direct it in the right way. During the massage a person experiences a feeling of relaxation and calming of the mind. Ayurvedic therapies are recommended for specific ailments, increasing vitality, sharpening the senses, nourishing the body, and reducing tension resulting from stress.
Abhyanga and Shirodhara – magical treatments in Prana Spa in Gdansk
Ayurveda experts may be found in Gdansk, in Prana Spa centre. In the offices on Szeroka Street, there are practitioners who perform ABHYANGA – oil massages for health and balance. This ancient technique of relaxation massage deriving from Ayurveda uses warm healing oil, which has a beneficial impact on the mind, body, spirit, and immune system. Abhyanga massage can help the body get rid of toxins accumulated in the body in the rush and distress of everyday life. In the Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage, a large amount of warm oil is applied to the entire body with massaging movements in the direction of arterial blood flow.
Another very interesting treatment is Shirodhara. It is an ancient method of Ayurvedic healing, which may help us find balance in our mind, body and spirit and lead us towards the holistic well-being. It is one of the most important therapies in Ayurveda, which not only rejuvenates and purifies the body but also relieves stress, mental fatigue and treats many disorders. The word “Shirodhara” comes from two Sanskrit words – “Shiro” meaning head and “Dhara” meaning stream or flow. Together, this means pouring or dripping warm herbal oil onto the forehead in a continuous stream. During the treatment, the oil is poured from a specific height and for a specific amount of time to flow through the scalp and hair. It stimulates a vital point on the head called the “Ajna Marma” or “Maha-Marma”, which ensures stability of the mind and consciousness. According to Ayurveda, Ajna Marma is a key point through which the vital life force or “Prana” circulates. It is also known as the centre of intuition and referred to as “The Third Eye Chakra”. Shirodhara balances the doshas in the body and improves the functioning of the nervous system.