Drinking ginger tea, omitting dairy foods from her diet and taking daily walks became as routine as brushing her teeth for Jennifer Cormier, a Pilates instructor at Inward Bound Wellness in Ashland, Oregon. To shed winter weight and brighten her complexion with spring's arrival, Jenn dabbled with Ayurveda (pronounced eye-yur-vay-dah), India's traditional healing science. After a month of adhering to these ancient daily rituals, Jenn began to feel more in rhythm with the budding of new life around her. She began to laugh more and sleep more soundly. Her digestion improved, her eyes sparkled, and she had more energy to exercise and enjoy activities with friends and family.
"I've incorporated lots of things from Ayurveda into my life recently that have brought big shifts," says Jenn. "I feel a lot lighter and more joyful, like I'm evolving. Ayurveda really feels like a loving and kind discipline. My need for balance has been met."
Like Jenn, we all want to feel happy and healthy. We want to look in the mirror and see our own radiance shining back. Although Ayurveda originated thousands of years ago in India, it can be applied here and now for immediate results. When you align yourself with your environment, joy and health arise naturally, signaling the arrival of balance.
Ninety years ago Joseph Pilates developed his unique method of body control to meet this same need for balance. He, like the ancient Indian sages who birthed Ayurveda 6,000 years ago, determined that the key to health resided in harmonizing oneself to nature's rhythms. Pilates declared, "If human beings only knew and only obeyed the simple laws of the universe, universal health would follow."
Many revere Ayurveda as Yoga's sister tradition. Whereas Yoga is the science of self-realization, Ayurveda is the science of self-healing. It incorporates diet, exercise, color therapy, massage, aromatherapy, medicinal herbs, mantra and even visualization to attune oneself with the surrounding environment. In this way, the founding premise of Pilates resonates with this Vedic science of mind/body healing. Ayurveda, like Pilates, defines optimum health as a state where order is present and one lives in harmony with the environment. When this happens the body is clear of toxins, the mind rests at peace, emotions are calm and happy, organs function normally and waste is efficiently eliminated.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, five elements-space, air, earth, fire and water-make up everything in the universe. These elements combine to create three different constitutional types, called doshas: Vata (airy), Pitta (fiery) and Kapha (earthy). These doshas are the three fundamental forces behind everything, from the time of day to the stages of life to the foods you eat. Even your own unique physical and mental blueprint consists of a combination of these three types. Knowing your dosha can guide you to the foods, exercises and daily habits that will best bring you optimum health.