There are many people that have still never heard of Ayurveda so if you are wondering what it is, you are not alone! You could write an entire book (or two!) on what Ayurveda is but, put simply, Ayurveda is the "life wisdom" (the direct translation of the word is "ayu" = life + "veda" = wisdom) of an ancient Indian healthcare system of natural healing. It looks after all the facets of day to day well-being and health from diet and cooking to supplements, yoga, massage, treatments and herbal/plant based medicine.
At its most basic Ayurveda is the knowledge of how to live wisely, healthily, happily and with balance. It is the sister science to yoga and together they focus on preventative healthy lifestyle plus the overall welfare and care of the body using ancient traditions, Indian herbal treatments, massage and medical treatment (if a patient reaches the stage of disease where intervention is needed.)
Ayurveda has practises and advice to aid all kinds of daily prevention and well-ness and focuses on teaching actions that are "life enhancing" - and indeed, highlighting those actions which are not! More than being merely a medical system it encompasses total wisdom for healthy living in order to reach your emotional and physical potential from the foods we chose, the weight we aim for and even the way we get ready each morning.
At the core of Ayurveda is the understanding that every individual is, well,"individual". We are all unique. Ayurveda is based on the principle that the body is made up of 3 key constitutions (called "doshas") which make up the unique form of every person. These doshas are qualities that influence all of the body's functions from biological processes to thoughts and feelings, and each of us has a wonderfully unique balance of them which impact the functioning of our own system. Although these doshas are present from birth they can also change according to a variety of circumstances such as the food we eat, the weather, how happy we are feeling, what time we go to bed, how many hours we work, how stressed we are, how much we drink......the list goes on.
The goal of Ayurveda fundamentally is to help keep balance of these doshas in the body and ensure we feel at our very best as much of the time as possible. It covers all areas of physical health, emotional well being, social welfare, relationships, dietary habits, seasonal changes, environmental realities, and daily living trends. Ayurveda believes that it is impossible to separate our health from our family, work, society and planet and offers insights, that are still as relevant today as they were many centuries ago, to fulfil your own health potential based on the choices you make. So there you have it, Ayurveda 101!