Heard about Ayurveda, but don't know what it's about? Are you confused by other books on the subject? Have you looked into other forms of alternative healing or lifestyle and been put off by strict regiments of diet, exercise and even abstinence?
Everybody is different, and Atreya, using ayurvedic techniques, teaches you how to recognize your own body "type" and what you can do to maintain healthy balance in your life. Enjoy the foods and activities you always have - using Ayurveda, you will finally understand how they affect you and what you can do to balance the good with the bad. Atreya loves life, has a sense of humour, loves to teach, and in this book provides an accessible introduction to Ayurveda by demystifying the language and providing humorous illustrations. He teaches how Ayurveda can help you handle your lifestyle - he even discusses sexuality, something many healers never mention.
In Practical Ayurveda, Atreya
• Provides an easy-to-use constitutional test for determining your own ayurvedic humors, along with useful methods for self-diagnosis and balancing the humors. He also includes special diets and cures for dozens of ailments.
• Discusses the health benefits of good sexual relationships. He dispels the myth that abstinence is required to attain pure consciousness and explains why repressing sexuality cuts off prana, which in turn affects our relationship to life itself.
• Clarifies the spiritual principles behind Ayurveda, and provides a broad and flexible perspective on this ancient healing system.
All of which combine to unlock ayurvedic "secrets" to physical, sexual, and spiritual health!
Ayurveda, the traditional natural healing system of India, is quickly gaining popularity in the Western world. Interest in the subject has spread rapidly throughout North and South America, Europe, and Australia in recent years.
There is a new proliferation of Ayurvedic classes, schools, and treatment centers in most major metropolitan areas. The number of people who are using this ancient health system in their daily lives is becoming considerable. Many people of all walks of life are gaining great personal and spiritual benefit from Ayurveda's wisdom of healing.
The number of books on Ayurveda has also increased, with a steady stream of interesting titles expanding our awareness of this new and profound field of medicine. The Ayurvedic system, like Traditional Chinese Medicine before it, is gradually entering into mainstream health care, being adopted by medical doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, herbalists and nutritionists. This movement must continue to develop extensively in the coming decades, and can help us deal with the new pressures on our health caused by our modern industrial and high tech life-styles. Ayurveda is not going to be merely a passing health fad, but is an enduring part of the new global p~radigm of healing emerging today. We can say that Ayurveda has arrived and is now making its home in the West.
There are many reasons for this new interest in Ayurveda. First, all over the world today we are looking for a natural system of healing that is comprehensive and complete that is not merely some curious form of folk healing but a real and rational system of medicine that is sensitive to both nature and the Earth. This is exactly what Ayurveda has to offer, for it have a many thousand year-old clinical tradition and a comprehensive natural method of treatment ranging from diet, herbs, and massage, to life-style counseling and meditation. Ayurveda is not merely East Indian folk medicine but a perennial naturopathic system of health care that has survived through the onslaught of modern medicine and preserved the wisdom of the ages and the wisdom of the Earth.
Second, there is a new search for a mind-body medicine today that is spiritual in nature and addresses the role of consciousness in healing. Meditation and prayer are now recognized for their ability to heal not only the mind but the body. Such a spiritual orientation is everywhere in Ayurveda with its connecbon to Yogic practices and meditation disciplines and its understanding of the karmic roots of Our human problems. Ayurveda always encourages us to a more spiritual life-style and the pursuit of Self-realization, and says that this is essential to our real health and well-being, whatever may be our main pursuit in life.
Third, there are now many people who have studied Yoga and allied spiritual traditions from India and would like to know more about the medical side of that tradition, which is Ayurveda. For this reason most of the Yoga centers and ashrams in the West are now introducing Ayurvedic classes and programs into their activities.
Hatha Yoga, the asana side of the Yogic system, has also become very popular worldwide, with Yoga classes offered in nearly every significant community in the United States. Whoever finds this system of exercise helpful will similarly gravitate toward its sister system of Ayurveda. Ayurveda shows how Yogic practices can be used on a therapeutic level for treatment of disease and for health maintenance.
Atreya is well aware of all these trends in his new book on Ayurveda, Practical Ayurveda: Secrets for Physical, Sexual, and Spiritual Health, which expands the field of Ayurveda yet further. His writing takes Ayurveda to a deeper level as well as develops it for a larger audience. Atreya is a notable Western student of Ayurveda, who has researched the science in depth in India and has developed much intuitive insight into this ancient system of right living. He has taken a profound interest not only in the healing side of the Vedic tradition but in its spiritual side as well. Most notably, he has deeply examined the non-dualtradition of Self-realization at the summit of the Indic / meditational traditions, the system of Advaita Vedanta, and brings this transcendental View into his work.
Atreya approaches Ayurveda not merely looking at its physical aspects, but unfolds, with clarity and precision, its energetic formulations and spiritual principles. This provides a much broader and more flexible perspective on this ancient healing system than usually given, and one that cannot be gained merely by studying the system outwardly. The book has a special emphasis on prana or the "vital force" and is not simply an ordinary presentation of Ayurveda emphasizing physical factors. His approach to Ayurveda is not mechanical or academic but living and experiential, going back to the life-force that is the basis of the Ayurvedic view of life. He examines the entire science of prana, how our life-energy works on all levels of mind and body, a subject he dealt with more specifically in his previous book Prana: The Secret of Yogic Healing.
The gross physical body is a manifestation of the subtle energy field of prana, without which we could not even move. Physical imbalances are merely the reflection of earlier imbalances in the pranic field. If we can correct these pranic problems before they manifest in the physical body, we can prevent disease and guard our health. Atreya shows how special pranic methods and ways of using the breath can balance the doshas or biological humors of Ayurveda and reduce the necessity for more complicated or more physical therapies.
Practical Ayurveda is an excellent introduction to the system of Ayurveda and one that is concise, direct, and easy to understand. It covers all the main concepts, practices, and treatments of Ayurveda in a way that is both in- teresting and informative, both in harmony with the tradition and modern in its understanding. From diet and herbs to daily life-style practices, the book provides Ayurvedic secrets of health and well-being for every major type of person.
Atreya's presentation of Ayurveda is remarkably fresh and filled with his own personal insights, so that other Westerners can follow his lead and way of entry into his often arcane system. Being a Westerner Atreya is able to translate unfamiliar concepts of Ayurveda to the Western mind with lucidity and simplicity. He relates how he uses Ayurveda in his own life and how it has transformed how he lives on all levels. Atreya is an original thinker and adds his own insights about Ayurveda to his book. These can add much in making Ayurveda more practical or accessible to people today for dealing with the changing conditions of our complex modern life.
Without such natural wisdom as Ayurveda, we may find ourselves not only unhealthy, but unhappy and spiritually confused. With Ayurveda we can learn the right diet for our individual type, how to improve our immune system, the keys to right use of sexual energy and rejuvenation, and a conscious way of life that can lift us to a new level of awareness in all our endeavors. May the reader embrace this book as a tool of reintegration with the great healing and transformational energy of prana.
There is nothing good or bad in Ayurveda. Ayurveda is not an endless repetition of curries and rigid yogic practices. It is simply a very ancient, practical method used to under- stand life. Ayurveda begins by helping people understand themselves, their unique individual nature. Then it helps teach people how different natures affect their nature. This can take the form of food, climate, people, or career. Ayurveda can be seen as an uncomplicated formula: A + B = C. In other words, it shows the result of combining our nature with other objects and places. My personal experience demonstrates this fact for me.
Some years ago I returned to the West to live and work after living in India for many years. On my return I found out what stress, anxiety, aspirin and frustration equals-a duodenal ulcer and a trip to the hospital. I asked myself, "How could someone who had been meditating for twenty years, who had done years of Western therapy, who worked as a therapist and healer, give himself an ulcer"? Easy I hadn't learned to fully accept the reality of my body and the emotional relationship of mind to the body. Most importantly, I did not understand my particular constitution-my nature. I also failed to change what I could in my external affairs to reduce stress. The
Ayurvedic system has taught me these essential lessons and how to understand my individuality its strengths and weaknesses.
By continuing to do activities that over-stressed .my back (I have idiopathic kyphoscoliosis and osteoarthy'osis of the spine) I put myself in tremendous pain and started a degenerating disease cycle. Wrong action and ignorance were the root causes. Instead of stopping the aggravating activity I took aspirin to stop the pain-sound familiar? I did this because I needed the money that the activity pro- vided. Combined with mental worries about living in Western society, in addition to other personal frustrations, the aspirin burned a hole through the wall of the duodenum (small intestine). Although it may seem extremely stupid to inflict this on myself-it certainly feels stupid to write it-economic scarcity, emotional unfulfillment, and mental stress are not uncommon today, nor are they stupid feelings.
Unfortunately, stress caused by something or other is the reality of many people. My failure was that I didn't change my situation, nor did I change how I dealt with it mentally and emotionally. Because I managed to do nothing effective about my condition, everything went wrong at once, and I finally collapsed on the kitchen floor after bleeding internally for almost two months. Tests revealed a red blood cell count of six-normal should be thirteen to fifteen for a man my age. I was white as a ghost!
All the time I kept thinking that I must have a low threshold for pain. The direct refusal to acknowledge the pain in my body-not accepting the reality of my body- led to a stay in the hospital and several months of convalescing. This is the other side of will power, and we can use it to kill ourselves, as I almost did by ignoring my body. This experience forced me to apply Ayurvedic methods to recover. And now I use Ayurvedic methods to prevent any future reoccurrence, and to also prevent disease in general.
Should you be interested in a medical system that dates back at least 5000 years? Is there really any practical use in using ancient methods of health care? Can the Ayurvedic. Systems help you in your busy everyday life?
The answer is definitely, yes, to all the above questions. I found out through personal experience that the Ayurvedic medical system is very applicable today. Had I understood my Ayurvedic constitution I could have avoided all the problems I mentioned. I have now been able to cure myself of a duodenal ulcer, reverse deterioration of the kidneys, correct chronic intestinal problems, and alleviate continuous back pain through Ayurvedic methods. The / natural therapies I use have left me healthier, happier, and with a greater knowledge of myself and the universe; and most importantly, of my relationship to that universe. Over the last several years I have been able to share the system with others.
A woman came to me in Paris, where I live, with a combination of several physical problems. She was primarily concerned with her menstruation. After using Ayurvedic diagnostic methods I explained to her the Ayurvedic view of disease and imbalance relating specifically to her constitution. I then suggested that she take a formula of several herbs and avoid eating certain foods. We talked about the psychological implications relating to the present imbalance, and, with these guidelines, I sent her to the pharmacy to buy the correct herbs. I didn't hear anything from her for several months. When I did finally hear about her, it was through another friend whom she sent to me for consultation. All her problems had cleared up within a month, and she had changed certain aspects of her life that were the underlying cause of her physical problems. She was now healthy and happy.
She has taken positive steps to recover her personal power, and has taken responsibility for her health. Her physical disturbances were painlessly and easily alleviated with a formula of eight herbs and KNOWLEDGE- the knowledge of how nature functions and how her body functions in relation to nature. Her problems were easily corrected because she applied that knowledge. What is that knowledge? It has been called Ayurveda, the knowl- edge of life, for thousands of years. This book is about that knowledge, its origins and the most fundamental component of all life-prana.
Another woman came to me recently because she had been constipated for three days. She had tried everythingavailable-and in France that is a lot of products!-and nothing worked. This had been an ongoing problem for several years and had become quite disabling for this woman of about sixty. Her pulse showed a debilitated liver and an imbalance in the humor that controls movement in the body. She also, had a large quantity of toxic accumulation in the body. I recommended two well known Ayurvedic formulas and she received instant relief that same evening. She called me the next day. She was very happy, and now is back on the 'road to good health. Several weeks of treatment has given her more energy and she is enjoying life again.
Traditional forms of medicine, like Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, were developed by ancient sages. Their astute observations of the universe resulted in the development of "constitutional medicine." The ancients perceived the universe as a constant play of energies, which when imbalanced in the body, lead to discomfort or disease. The role of the ancient doctor was to restore harmony to the body-mind environment. The ancient Vedic culture in India took this concept of constitutional medicine to its highest development in the form of Ayurvedic medicine.
The Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions have developed very sophisticated systems of medicine in the 5000 years of their existence. In fact, Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, still treats one third of the world's population. The United Nations Organization estimates that 70 percent of India's 900 million people are treated by Ayurvedic medicine. Therefore, we can draw the conclusion that constitutional medicine still treats a huge segment of the world's population, even in modern times.
The ancients perceived the universe as different forms of manifested energy; they saw these same fundamental energies in our food and herbs. The unique classification of food and herbs according to their individual actions (or "energies") is how Ayurveda and TCM restore balance to the body. In China a doctor was considered poor or inferior if his patients became sick; for this showed his inability to maintain the harmony of the body with food and herbs. In fact, people only paid the doctor as long as they did not getsick! In Ayurveda, medicine was considered inferior to food and herbs ingested on a daily basis. Actually, medicine was a "last resort" that showed the irresponsibility pf the patients' life-styles and habits.
Traditional pharmacology is very highly developed in both the Ayurvedic and TCM systems. They are able to render toxic substances into material safe for human ingestion with relatively simple means. Lacking the technological ability to extract the "active ingredients" of a plant or herb led the ancient doctors to combine several plants that had specific therapeutic effects. Formulas often have fifteen to twenty ingredients in order to achieve the desired therapeutic effect and eliminate any negative side effect. The continuous utilization of these methods of pharmacology attest to their efficiency and safety when administered correctly.
Many ancient cultures traveled to India to learn from India's medical professionals. Traveling Chinese scholars have given us historical records of constitutional medicine in India, although both Ayurvedic and Chinese medical theses still exist from before 1000 B.C. The Four-Humor Theory of the ancient Greeks came from India. We find the Greeks using Ayurvedic theories and herbal formulations after 400 B.C., when they were known to have studied the Ayurvedic system extensively. Hence, it is possible historically to say that constitutional medicine is the foundation of the- modern allopathic medicine that evolved from the ancient Greek system. We are actually beginning to come "full circle."
Ayurveda is the mother of all forms of modern medicine, from body work to surgery. Every Occidental and Asian civilization has borrowed Ayurvedic knowledge and applied it to their own cultural context and medical system. Plastic surgery, acupuncture, disease classifications and medical schools all stem from the Ayurvedic tradition. In view of this, Ayurveda, and the information about Ayurveda presented here, should be viewed as complementary to modern allopathic medicine. Ayurvedic therapies can be seen as both physical and psychological preventative measures. In fact, such a view is necessary for thecontinual growth and harmony of both systems, and for the newly developing concept of global medicine.
This book is based on the oldest surviving medical text of Ayurveda, the Caraka Samhita. Samhita means "text" or "thesis" and Caraka is the name of the doctor who put the text into its present form. Caraka literally means "one who moves around," implying a doctor who moved throughout the country teaching and practicing medicine. 1 The Caraka Samhita primarily covers internal medicine, but it also includes all the basic principles of Ayurvedic medicine.
The Caraka Samhita is a direct transmission of Ayurveda from God or the Creator (Brahrna) to a series of enlightened sages ending with the sage Atreya (lit. "son of Atri," who was one of the seven immortal Vedic sages). In the Caraka Samhita, Atreya teaches a group of six disciples, and one of them, Agnivasa, is the actual author of this Samhita. Caraka came a few hundred-or few thousand-years later to actually write down the ancient oral teaching of the sage Atreya. Because of this lineage, historically direct from Brahma, the creator, Ayurveda is considered to be beginningless and endless, therefore an immortal science. Ayurveda's continued relevance today attests to this vision.
It is important to note the modern historical view of Ayurveda versus the far older oral tradition of ancient India. The modern view, according to Christian historians, is that the Caraka Samhita was composed around 1000 B.C. by Agnivasa and then actually written down by Caraka (the person) around 800 B.C. However, ancient oral tradition places the sage Atreya around 5000 B.C., as he is the son of the great immortal seer Atri. Atri is a contemporary of the Vedic seer Vasistha, and of the epic poem, "The Ramayana," in which the avatar Rama destroys Shri Lanka in a war with the evil forces of ignorance. This then places the Caraka Samhita as a 7000-year-old document.
The modern Christian view of history places the first book of Vedic times, the Rig Veda, at about 1500 B.C., There are four of these "books" collectively called the" Vedas or the "books of knowledge." Ayurveda (ayur + Veda = the knowledge of life) is considered a sub-Veda, or the branch of knowledge that is concerned with physical health and happiness on Earth, and, therefore, very important for all of us. The Vedas are the basis of the Vedic culture of which Hinduism is a much later manifestation. The oral tradition states that the first of the Vedas was composed about 40,000 years ago. 2 It is not the purpose of this book to determine the correct view or the scientifically more accurate view; however, it is necessary to point out that Ayurveda traditionally has very old roots, long before "recorded history."
The oral tradition is still very much alive in India, but unfortunately much of the most valuable information on Ayurveda is passed orally from teacher to student. Due in part to this oral tradition, Ayurveda can appear, at our Western first glance, disjointed, complicated, or simplistic at the same time. However, after deeper study the almost amazing harmony and complete inter-relatedness of the manifested existence become apparent.
The purpose of this book is threefold: to explain Ayurveda to the average person in everyday language; to show the relation of the basic unit of life, prana, to the Ayurvedic system; and to clarify the true spiritual orientation of Ayurvedic healing. It took me some time to grasp the fundamentals of Ayurveda. This was not due to the inherent difficulties of the system, but rather to the language-the presentation and cultural metaphors. Once I was able to surmount these problems it became just a matter of learning any other interesting subject, such as nuclear physics. Hopefully this work will facilitate others in learning Ayurvedic methods, how to apply therA in daily life, and how to apply the great spiritual insights of the original founders.
In the United States, several proponents of traditional Eastern medical systems have begun a movement to create a global form of medicine that treats individuals with natural means. This kind of constitutional approach is applicable to everyone throughout the world, and will eventually form the basis of a new global medical system.
I wish to thank these persons for helping me learn and as- similate Ayurveda through their writings: Dr. David Frawley, Dr. Vasant Lad, Michael Tierra, Dr. Robert Svobodha, Dr. Frank Ros and Dr. Subhash Ranade, among others.
While this book is another commentary on Ayurveda, the primary focus is to re-examine the role of prana in the healing process. Prana is the most fundamental force in healing, regardless of the tradition. However, Ayurveda fully understands the role of prana. It is the best overall method we can use to promote health and long life. It is with considerable humility that I present this work. I hope that its publication will stimulate the Ayurvedic community in India to release some of the deeper, more profound information on prana that is available there. I hope this information will help to end the commercialization of Ayurveda that turns it into just another form of "symptomatic relief" so prevalent in modern times. If we do not address the total being, and its spiritual source, Ayurveda is not Ayurveda.
I feel that without a deep understanding of our inner- most nature, the secrets of Ayurveda are not revealed. What often passes for Ayurveda in India and in the West is nothing like the real Ayurveda that the great seers of ancient times lived and taught. While my teacher is not trained formally in Ayurveda, stories abound of his great healing powers that stem not from intellectual knowledge, but rather from the eternal abidance in his primordial being or self. It is he who pointed a finger to the knowledge of being. It is in this abidance being that the true essence of Ayurveda is revealed.
Acupuncture & Acupressure (203)
Gem Therapy (27)
Original Texts (232)
Therapy & Treatment (125)
Tibetan Healing (138)
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