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Ayurveda in Sri Lanka

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The history of Ayurveda

Ayurveda, is one of the world’s oldest healing systems. Nevertheless, even today Ayurveda is very much a part of everyday life in Sri Lanka.The term Ayurveda actually consists of two Sanskrit words: ‘ayur’,meaning life and ‘veda’, meaning knowledge. This ancient knowledge was gathered over 5000 years ago by Indian seers: wise men who possessed intuitive and spiritual powers. Through deep meditation and observation of nature, these elders concluded that all things are connected. Based on this conviction they formed guiding principles on how to conduct our daily lives. If your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with each other and the universe, you have good health. When something disrupts this balance, you get sick. Ayurveda’s main goal is not just to fight illness, but also to promote good health. Yet specific treatments will help cure specific health problems.

Ayurveda and food

The principle of ’agni‘ is core to the teachings of Ayurveda.The strength of our agni – our internal heat or digestive system- is of central importance in determining our overall health. All good health starts with a proper metabolism; food is just as important as medicine. Agni metabolizes food into energy for a vital body and clear mind. This internal heat should neither be too weak or too fiery.If agni is too weak you might suffer from frequent colds, allergies, obesity and chronic constipation. Mentally it may cause boredom,greed, possessiveness and want for excess sleep. If ’agni‘ is too strong you might experience gastritis, heartburn, acne and hot flashes while mentally it may lead to hate, envy, aggressiveness and harsh judgment of others.

Ayurveda in everyday life

Ayurvedic practices also underpin everyday life. People are encouraged to have a restful sleep and to rise early –same time as the sun – between 4.30 and 5 am. At that moment the air is still clean and fresh and one can hear the sounds of nature. This will give you good energy for the rest of the day.

Drink enough water. Ten to twelve glasses of water a day will relieve the body of toxins, stimulate digestion and make the skin look clear. About 30 minutes of exercise –walking, cycling or yoga- should be a part of your daily routine; while you’re at it, bond with nature and feel its energy. Last but not least, daily meditation will help you relax and raise your awareness.

Every Sri Lankan town or village has its own ayurvedic shop and doctor. These ayurvedic practitioners are held in high esteem. They take into account a person’s unique emotional and physical characteristics to prescribe a lifestyle which will restore lost health and vitality. The prescription will always be centered around diet and other daily practices. Massage, medical oils and herbs are also part of the treatment.

Some basic rules you can start to follow today!

Here are a few basic rules of Ayurveda which can help anyone get started on the route to a healthy balance.

Rule: Have a light breakfast and do so before 8am.

Reason: A light breakfast is best as you want to avoid using the morning energy for digestion, since this energy is for your day.

Rule: Fruit should always be eaten alone and on an empty stomach. Never eat fruit during or after meals.

Reason: Fruit digests very quickly,-in under 20 minutes- and if it is eaten with other slower digesting food it will be held up in the digestive tract. This causes gas, bloating and indigestion.

Rule: If you are going to have animal products – Ayurveda teaches vegetarianism – then have them at lunch.

Reason: Animal products take the longest to digest. So if you are to eat them, it is best to eat to do so when digestion is at its strongest. This is at midday. Also gives the body more time to digest before digestion starts winding down at around 4pm.

Rule: Dinner should be taken between 5pm and 7pm. It should be vegan and low fat.

Reason: By the time you sleep, your stomach should be empty. This will allow the body to direct all its energy on regeneration. Examples of an ideal evening meal are vegetable soup and toast, vegetable pasta or dahl and rice.

Rule: Never eat or drink anything that is below room temperature

Reason: Dousing the stomach with cold foods or drink impairs important digestive functions or agni.

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