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20.09.2017 What Is Ayurveda?

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What Is Ayurveda?
By Deepak Chopra, M.D. (/bios/deepak-chopra)

Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientic evidence for the mind-body connection, the
sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the worlds most sophisticated and
powerful mind-body health systems. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life
(Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It oers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant
and healthy while realizing their full human potential.

The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda are 1) the mind and the body are inextricably connected, and 2)
nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind.Freedom from illness depends upon
expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body. This
process isnt as complicated as it may sound. For example, when you meditate you eortlessly enter a state
of expanded awareness and inner quiet that refreshes the mind and restores balance. Since the mind and
body are inseparable, the body is naturally balanced through the practice of meditation. In the state of restful
awareness created through meditation, your heart rate and breath slow, your body decreases the production
of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and you increase the production of neurotransmitters
that enhance wellbeing, including serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins.

Meditation is just one of the most powerful tools the ancient Ayurvedic physicians prescribed for balancing
the mind and body. Ayurveda also oers many other practices for expanding self-awareness and cultivating
your innate state of balance. Here are a few of the most important aspects of the Ayurvedic approach and
suggestions for applying them to create perfect health in your own life:

Understand your unique mind-body type and the specic

needs that derive from it.
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20.09.2017 What Is Ayurveda? | The Chopra Center

Ayurveda is a personalized approach to health, and knowing your mind-body type allows you to make
optimal choices about diet, exercise, supplements, and all other aspects of your lifestyle. You can learn more
about Ayurvedic mind-body types and nd out how to identify your own individual type here

Eat a colorful, avorful diet.

Next to breathing, eating is our most vital bodily function. To create a healthy body and mind our food must
be nourishing. Ideal nutrition comes from consuming a variety of fresh foods that are appropriately prepared
and eaten with awareness. A simple way to make sure that you are getting a balanced diet is to include the six
Ayurvedic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent) in each meal. Doing so will ensure that all
major food groups and nutrients are represented. When you include all six tastes, you will also notice that
you feel satised and that the urge to snack and overeat will diminish. You can nd more information on the
six tastes here. (http://www.chopra.com/articles/the-6-tastes-of-ayurveda)

Along with the six tastes, lling your plate with the colors of the rainbow promotes a long and healthy life.
You can literally ingest the information of the universe into your biology. Foods that are deep blue, purple,
red, green, or orange are leaders in antioxidants and contain many nutrients that boost immunity and
enhance health.

Get abundant restful sleep.

According to Ayurveda, sleep is the nursemaid to humanity. During sleep, our body repairs and rejuvenates
itself. A lack of restful sleep disrupts the bodys innate balance, weakens our immune system, and speeds up
the aging process. Human beings generally need between six and eight hours of restful sleep each night.
Restful sleep means that youre not using pharmaceuticals or alcohol to get to sleep but that youre drifting
o easily once you turn o the light and are sleeping soundly through the night. If you feel energetic and
vibrant when you wake up, you had a night of restful sleep. If you feel tired and unenthusiastic, you havent
had restful sleep. You can nd a more detailed sleep routine here (http://www.chopra.com/articles/how-to-get-

Live in tune with nature.

The phrase living in tune with nature has a precise meaning in Ayurveda: having healthy desires that match
what you actually need. As nature made you, what you need and what you want shouldnt be in conict.
When youre in balance, you naturally desire only that which nurtures your health and life. You ow in
harmony with your bodys natural rhythms, getting restful sleep, feeding your senses with experiences, tastes,
touch, aromas, sounds, and sights that uplift and nourish you. When you slip out of tune with nature, your
desires become non-nurturing and you may crave junk food, neglect to sleep and exercise, and indulge in
compulsive behaviors. Overtime, a little imbalance can become a disorder and then a disease, bringing on
more stress and neglect.

Exercise: Tune in to your body.

You can make choices that keep you in harmony with your inner intelligence and rhythms by tuning into your
bodys messages. The body always expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When
choosing a certain path or behavior, ask your body, How do you feel about this? If your body sends a signal
of physical or emotional distress, pay attention and consider a dierent choice. If your body sends a signal of
comfort and eagerness, you may proceed. Whereas the mind lives in the past and the future, the body resides
in the now and never doubts itself. It knows the truth and will guide you towards the most evolutionary


Strengthen your digestive power.

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20.09.2017 What Is Ayurveda? | The Chopra Center

As Ayurveda teaches, good health is dependent upon our capability to fully metabolize the nutritional,
emotional, and sensory information that we ingest. When our digestive energy, known as agni
(http://www.chopra.com/articles/6-ayurvedic-practices-to-improve-your-digestion) (re), is robust, we create
healthy tissues, eliminate waste products eciently and produce a subtle essence called ojas. Ojas, which
may be envisioned as the source of our vitality, is the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength, and
immunity. On the other hand, if our agni is weakened, digestion is incomplete and lead to an accumulation of
toxic residue known as ama. The buildup of ama in the body mind leads to obstructions in the ow of energy,
information, and nourishment, and is the basis of all disease.

Here are a few Ayurvedic practices to strengthen your digestive re:

Always sit down to eat (dont eat in front of your computer or TV or while youre driving).
Eat in a settled atmosphere and not when youre upset.
Dont eat until youre denitely hungry.
Dine at a moderate pace. Dont gulp down your food or eat too slowly.
Minimize raw foods, which are much harder to digest than cooked ones.
Include all six tastes at each meal.
Drink hot water with ginger throughout the day.
Practice some form of moderate exercise on a regular basis.
Perform a daily oil massage with herbalized oil that balances your mind-body type.Find instructions for
a self-massage here. (http://www.chopra.com/articles/the-benefits-of-ayurveda-self-massage-
Spend time in the quiet of meditation every day.
Use detoxifying herbs such as triphala (http://www.chopra.com/articles/explore-one-of-
ayurveda%E2%80%99s-most-popular-herbs-triphala), ashwagandha (http://www.chopra.com/articles/what-
is-ashwagandha), guggulu, brahmi, ginger, turmeric and neem.

Take it easy.
The Ayurvedic approach is about aligning with the innite organizing power of nature rather than struggling
or trying to force things to go your way. This principle is embodied by the Law of Least Eort
(http://www.chopra.com/articles/the-law-of-least-effort). When you observe nature, you will notice that grass
doesnt try to grow; it just grows. Birds dont try to y; they just y. Flowers dont try to blossom; they just
blossom. Nature functions with eortless ease, frictionlessly and spontaneously. It is intuitive, holistic, non-
linear, and nourishing. You will expend least eort when your actions are motivated by love, because nature
is held together by the energy of love. When you chase after status, money, power, or accolades, you waste
energy, but when your actions are motivated by love, your energy expands and accumulates. So take it easy
and be guided by love.

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Topics: Ayurveda (/articles/all/29) Health and Wellness (/articles/all/23) Healthy Eating (/articles/all/31)
Meditation (/articles/all/5) Deepak (/articles/all/112) Mind-Body Medical Group (/articles/all/143)

About the Author

Deepak Chopra, M.D. (/bios/deepak-chopra)
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20.09.2017 What Is Ayurveda? | The Chopra Center

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation (http://www.choprafoundation.org/) and co-
founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and
personal transformation, and is Board Certied in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is a
Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor at UCSD Medical School, Researcher,
Neurology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a member of the American
Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Hungton Post global internet survey
ranked Chopra #17 inuential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine... Read more (/bios/deepak-chopra)

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