A Beginner's Guide to Ayurveda

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At a time in history when we're typically more overstimulated, not always eating as we should, on edge and stretched thinner than ever, is there an ancient approach that can help create balance in an increasingly hectic world?

Ayurveda, an age-old wellness protocol, deserves a closer look.

It’s a 5,000-year-old approach to natural wellness that aims to bring our bodies and minds into balance. The idea is that by working to bring balance specific to each body, we hold the power to optimize our ability to thrive.

History of Ayurveda, in a Nutshell

Ayurveda is alive today (and growing in popularity) because it has withstood the test of time.

A sister school of yoga, Ayurveda roughly translates to the knowledge or “science of life.” First originating in the Vedic culture of India, many consider it to be the oldest health tradition. And while Ayurveda comes from the East, anyone can practice its principles of wellness, regardless of geographic location, religion or economic status.

Spawning from the Vedic texts that celebrate the elements of life, including fire, wind, water, as well as Mother Earth and its plants and animals, Ayurvedic practices aim to harmonize internal and external realms.

Today, it’s considered an accepted form of alternative and complementary health support around the globe, and science is starting to catch up to what the ancients have known for millennia. Ayurveda has benefits.

Basic Principles of Ayurveda

Unlike a one-size-fits-all approach that typically doesn't address the huge diversity among people, Ayurveda takes an individual’s unique makeup into account when considering holistic solutions.

Ayurvedic principles, mainly consisting of diet, lifestyle and rejuvenation and “cleansing” actions to promote a more balanced body and mind, seek to create equilibrium for a person’s dosha, or unique personal constitution.

The three main “types,” or doshas, include:
Vata (wind)
Pitta (fire)
Kapha (water)

Understanding an individual’s dosha makeup helps us better understand our tendencies, what we’re attracted to and what throws us out of balance. On the flip side, it also helps us know the herbs, foods and lifestyle practices that may best support us in moving toward greater balance.

And to create this balance, the foundation of Ayurveda tells us that we need to focus on agni, or digestive fire. Overall health and maintaining digestive health has been a keystone of Ayurvedic practices for 5,000 years, something our modern society is now focusing on as well.

Principles of Ayurveda Today: Herbs, Oils & Other Go-To Ingredients

Aside from establishing a morning routine that you love to create and maintain focus, there are also specific botanicals considered a vital part of Ayurveda. While many have been utilized over the ages, here are some available today as well:

  1. Triphala

Used for well over 2,000 years, triphala is a staple of traditional Ayurveda. In India, it’s considered the greatest and most versatile of all herbal formulations.
It’s comprised of the following three fruits: amla, haritaki and bibhitaki.

  1. Ashwagandha

Perhaps one of the most popular well-regarded adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha is known as “strength of the stallion” in India. It’s also sometimes called “Indian ginseng” due to its ability to promote a healthy response to stress.

The herb also generally promotes a healthy memory, mental clarity and concentration.

  1. Holy Basil

Also known as tulsi, holy basil has been used for centuries in the Ayurvedic tradition.

  1. Fenugreek

Treasured as an Ayurvedic “cleansing” herb and discovered by the Ayurvedic tradition thousands of years ago, fenugreek is another popular Ayurvedic cornerstone.

  1. Turmeric

For well over 4,000 years, Ayurvedic herbalists looked to turmeric to “purify” the body and promote a thriving system.

  1. Frankincense

A time-honored herb used for thousands of years, frankincense is an important Ayurvedic botanical.

  1. Bacopa

Bacopa is a staple of traditional Ayurveda. It’s one of the main components of brahmi oil, a concoction of bacopa, gotu kola and sesame oil that’s traditionally applied to the crown of the head during meditation and prayer.

  1. Rosemary

A time-honored “attentiveness” Ayurvedic herb, rosemary is amazing. A side perk? It’s easy to grow.

  1. Bhumyamalaki (Phyllanthus amarus)

A bitter herb historically used in Ayurveda for its benefits, it’s used in Ayurveda to help bring balance.

  1. Ginger

Traditionally used as a warming spice, ginger features antioxidants and compounds like gingerol, shogaol, paradol and zingerone.

  1. Andrographis

The Ayurvedic “King of Bitters,” andrographis is also known as kalmegh and is also utilized in Traditional Chinese Herbalism.

  1. Olive Leaf

Another key “cleansing” herb in the Ayurvedic tradition, olive leaf has a long history in natural traditions.

  1. Arjuna

An herb traditionally used for general overall health support, arjuna is amazing.

  1. Shatavari

A go-to herb for generally for women in Ayurveda, shatavari is also a mainstay in Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is a traditional wellness approach, and it’s easy to start incorporating some of these ancient Ayurvedic herbs into your life.

In addition to adding these herbs to your diet (and, of course, an overall healthy diet and lifestyle), one way to get started is with Ancient Probiotics Ultimate, featuring the revolutionary herbal blend featuring 100 billion (at time of manufacture) probiotics with some of the most beloved Ayurvedic herbs that have stood the test of time.