As I’ve been in India I completed a 100 hour Ayurveda course at an ashram just south of Mysore. I’ve been learning from a 3rd generation traditional Ayurvedic doctor who teaches this course all around the world. It's been absolutely incredible and and throughly educational.
Now, Ayurveda is an in-depth ancient holistic health practice that is vast and takes years to grasp. However, as a yogi I have loved learning about it and really resonate with the many principles of this practice - so if you are into holistic health and curious about Ayurveda but have no idea where to begin, then here are a few of very basic principles to give you a taste of what it is all about.
1. Ayurveda is known as the self healing sister science to Yoga.
It is referred to as the Science of life where people are taught that they have the ability to heal themselves. The word Ayurveda translates from Sanskrit to Ayur = Life and Veda = Knowledge. It is an extremely holistic approach to health practices that originated in India over 4 thousand years ago.
2. The entire study is based off the 5 Great Elements of life.
Ayurveda is based on the principle that everything in the world (including us humans) are made up of the 5 Great Elements which include Either, Air, Fire, Water and Earth and the goal is to create balance within yourself of all these elements (which in turn is becoming in balance with nature).
3. From the 5 elements comes this thing called the Tridoshas which is at the root of EVERYTHING in Ayurveda.
This one is a complicated one to explain, but once you grasp it, you've grasped a huge foundational part of Ayurveda. In the simplest way put the Tridoshas are the combination of elements that become Vata (Air + Either), Kapha (Earth + Water) and Pitta (Fire). These principles govern all the biological, psychological and physiological functions of the mind, body and consciousness and the entire world. They basically serve as a guiding light and explanation of all things around you. Wither that is you personal constitution of the doshas you have, the kinds of foods eaten, the weather, seasons, tastes and medicines - all possess and are defined by these doshas and can be used accordingly to create balance.
4. Harmonous balance of the mind, body and soul is the ultimate goal.
One of the most important things in Ayurveda is to create balance within the mind, body and soul of a person therefor it is an extremely holistic approach to health practices valuing and examining the state of each these parts of your being - never just isolating the physical body.
5. Prevention is better than cure.
Ayurveda is highly focused on preventative actions rather then reactive and curative practices (although there are plenty of curative medicines and practices if needed). This is done by stressing the importance of examining the whole person first and their symptoms second - providing them with diet and lifestyles practices that get to the root of the issue, rather than only masking a symptom.
6. Healing is possible through food, lifestyle and herbal medicine.
What you eat and how you live your life is the way in which you nourish the body, mind and consciousness, so these elements are very important to examine. All of these aspects of life are studied in Ayurveda and applied in ways to heal or prevent any imbalances you might be experiences.
7. Proper health is measured with six simple properties.
Understaning when you are at your healthest state is broken down into six elements. This is important to understand because in order to achieve health you have to have a clear idea of what health consists of. So if any of the follow are "off" then you can identify what area you need treatment. Here are the six things you can ask yourself to determine your state of health:
Do you have proper hunger? - Meaning do you have a balanced appetite, not over indulgent or underfed.
Do you have proper digestion of foods? - Meaning are you digesting your foods without problems such as indigestion, heart burn, constipation ect.
Do you have proper elimination of waste? - Waste includes stool, urine or sweat. In Ayurveda you are healthest when you are able to go to the bathroom first thing in the morning.
Do you have proper sleep? - Meaning are you going to bed at a comfortable time and sleeping a healthy amount of sound hours.
Do you wake up in the morning without an alarm? - This is best if achieved before the hour of 6am (depending on your schedule) or before the sun comes up.
Do you waking up feeling light? - This can be thoguth of as an overall feeling of lightness and readiness for the day rather than heaviness or unexcitment.
Aging, this is only a SMALL tatse of what Ayurveda is all about - but if you found it interested and are curious about getting foundational knowledge on Ayurveda yourself then I highly recommend the specific course I attended at Ayuryoga. However, this is only one way in to learn about this study, so keep digging!