What is Ayurveda?

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a wholistic system, taking into account the state of body, mind, emotions and spirit, as well as relationship with the world and people; level of nourishment and life energy or ‘prana’, coming into your life, and path of dharma, or whether you are living your passion.

Ayurveda means “the Science of Life”, a really deep understanding of how the Universe and everything in it works. Ayurveda has been called ‘The Mother of All Medicines’ and it is the oldest continuously practiced medical system in the world. The primary goal of Ayurveda is to be healthy and happy so that one can attain the full potentials of being human.

Ayurveda is a sister science of yoga. They developed concurrently and have been supportive of one another since ancient times. As a “flexible body brings a flexible mind” – so too does a balanced and purified system help bring about success on the mat and access to a more ‘sattvic’ or harmonious being.


Many people are confused about what foods and supplements are actually good for them. Large amounts of conflicting advice and advertising only add to this. An ancient Ayurvedic text states: “One man’s food is another man’s poison” each person can learn what is appropriate for them and their individual constitution.

Ayurveda is a common sense medicine which offers guidance for daily maintenance that can assist the individual through simple home routines, diet modifications and information which are preventative in nature and promotes good health.

Ayurveda focuses on the root cause of problems. Ayurveda identifies 5 levels of disharmony before a disease actually manifests and has the ability to recognize and to correct imbalances at their more subtle level, preventing large medical costs.


Ayurveda is outstanding for helping chronic conditions, correcting digestion, rebuilding and revitalizing organ function, strengthening immunity, harmonizing hormonal imbalances and transforming women’s health issues; uplifting moods, relieving stress, balancing weight and increasing energy and vitality.


Ayurveda recognizes 10 metabolic body types – and all therapies, diet, supplements and herbal treatments are designed to balance the individual ‘Prakruti‘ or constitutional make-up.

Ayurveda stresses the importance of cleansing the system of ‘ama‘, or toxins. We do so by sharpening the digestive fire or ‘agni’, as well as balancing the forces within the body or ‘doshas’, teaching proper food combining and how to eat and live in harmony and per your body type. Ayurveda also has a sophisticated, comprehensive method of detoxification called ‘Pancha karma’. Once the toxins are removed, rejuvenation and rebuilding of tissues can take place.

Ayurveda firmly believes in gentleness in all things, and that medicines and therapies should feel and taste as good as possible.


According to Ayurveda, the five elements that make up everything in the universe are earth, water, fire, air and ether (space). Each element is represented in the human body. For instance, bones and teeth are earth, blood and lymph are water, the metabolism is fire, oxygen is air, and ether is the spaces found between matter, represented best by vibration or sound. The elements create the 3 doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Ether and Air come together to form Vata. Fire, plus an oily, bile type water come together as Pitta. Water and Earth make the dosha Kapha. The various doshas govern different functions and different attributes in the body.

Vata governs movement and neural-electrical impulses and is responsible for such functions as the heart beat, movement of food in digestion and the workings of the nervous system. Too much Vata can lead to symptoms such as high blood pressure, while too little can result in constipation.

Pitta governs transformation, perception and metabolism, is responsible for such functions as digestion and temperature. Too much Pitta can lead to symptoms such as ulcers and acne, while too little can result in indigestion.

Kapha governs structure and lubrication of the body and is responsible for such functions as immunity. Too much Kapha can lead to symptoms such as a runny nose or productive cough, while too little can result in dry, painful joints.

Each dosha has inherent weaknesses that must be managed, especially when in a dominate position in the constitution. This is an important part of Ayurvedic treatments.


Your first Ayurvedic consultation will take about an hour and a half. We meet and I take a complete survey of your health, history, and a comprehensive questionnaire is completed to access your metabolic body type (Prakruti) and imbalances at this time (Vikruti). My Ayurvedic tradition utilizes a 48-point, 7 level Pulse Diagnosis analyzing dosha location and function, organ and tissue health, and balance of body and emotions. Other diagnostic observations are made. An individualized Healing Plan is written up for you including diet and lifestyle recommendations. You receive a personal Abyangha (self) massage formula with essential oils, as well as a custom herbal formula to meet your wellness needs. Supplements, recipes and traditional Ayurvedic therapies may be recommended.


Pancha karma is a purification therapy; it is the key to rejuvenation, anti-aging and longevity. It means ‘5 actions‘ and is used to cleanse, detoxify and revitalize the organs and bodily functions and release the stress. Traditional treatment consists of several days of light diet or fasting, herbal medicine, marma point massage (marma points are positions on the body where flesh, veins, arteries, tendon, bones and joints meet), medicated oil therapy, steam, colon cleansing program, yoga, forgiveness ritual and meditation. The body is prepared ahead through oleanation, and followed by rejuvenation and tonification to strengthen and rebuild.

Your program starts with an Ayurvedic consultation and a history of your personal health. Specific therapies are designed according to your condition, needs and body-type. During the week you receive daily check-ups and counseling. A series of three consultations are usually recommended. Follow-up consultations average 40 minutes to an hour. An assessment is made of how the previous visit’s therapies have balanced your Vikruti, and brought you back in harmony with your Prakruti. Therapies are fine-tuned, and education of how to best manage your constitution is continued. We take small manageable steps to fully integrate positive health and lifestyle choices without strain. Life purpose issues are also discussed.


Massage – Medicated essential oil blends aware made for you according to your constitutional body type. Marma Point therapy balances the nervous system and the soothing massage dissolves holding patterns which can cause aging.

Shirodhara and Medicated Oil Therapy – Focused streaming of special oils on the forehead produce an exquisite state of transcendence, bringing balance to the mind and emotions. Special ear and nose drops penetrate and stimulate the nervous system, awakening the psychic center.

Basti or Colon Cleanse – Cleansing the Intestinal tract with herbal teas and oils removes accumulated toxins, freeing the immune system so that rejuvenation can take place.

Medicated Steam Therapy – Svedhana – Sweating opens the channels of elimination through your skin The herbal steam stimulates and opens up the pores so that they can drink up the nourishing oil. Heat is beneficial in raising the metabolic rate and stimulating the immune system.

Netra Basti or Vision Therapy – This eye therapy will release the inner tension and toxins from your eyes. Soothe away wrinkles and add sparkle to your eyes.


Ayurveda has several similarities to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Both are based on the interactions of the 5 elements. Ayurveda may use terms more familiar to us – Ether (space), Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Oriental Medicine describes the elements as: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth.

Ayurveda recognizes a meridian or energy system called the Nadis, which are balanced through a traditional body therapy called Marma Point Massage, where the specific points are cleansed, pacified or stimulated. Ayurveda and TCM. both include extensive use of herbs; both utilize pulse and other diagnosis in their consultative observations.

Traditional Chinese Medicine does not differentiate distinct metabolic types, although they do consider the balance of the elements and yin and yang.

A major difference of Ayurvedic Medicine is the importance of the following: comprehensive and sophisticated form of detoxification called Pancha Karma.


Ayurveda is perfectly compatible with all other healing modalities and complimentary to allopathic medical care. Ayurveda offers excellent follow up care to facilitate the body’s natural healing ability after surgery or medical problem.

To schedule your Ayurvedic Consulation contact:
Life In Balance
Nancy J. Phillips, M.Ayur. (773)465-0720 


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