Principles of Ayurveda:
treatment, massage, nutrition and the Doshas
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘Ayurveda’? Relaxing massages? Ginger tea? Yoga? All correct, but these aren’t the full picture. Rooted in an ancient, far-reaching life philosophy, Ayurveda is so much more than a menu of wellness treatments. It is a health philosophy that encompasses important principles, from nutrition and detoxification to meditation and the Doshas.
In short, what is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a traditional, holistic form of medicine that originated in India. Derived from the ancient Indian word meaning ‘science of life’, Ayurveda is principally concerned with leading a fulfilled and balanced life.
According to the ancient Ayurvedic texts, a person’s health is made up of many components. Ayurveda considers the whole person – mind, body and spirit – as one, and wellbeing is the result of a healthy balance between all three.
Ancient Ayurveda is taught at university level in India, and is now gaining momentum in Europe, too, as this natural alternative form of medicine complements established Western therapies. Beneficial treatments such as massages, as well as meditation and Yoga are particularly helpful in the search for balance amidst the stresses of everyday life.
Components of an Ayurvedic treatment programme
Rather than a single therapy, Ayurveda treatment programmes are made up of a range of individually tailored treatments. A programme begins with a qualified expert determining your personal constitution which forms the foundation of your treatment programme.
Each guest receives a diet plan featuring easily digestible, detoxifying foods, and a treatment plan including a selection of the following therapies:
Massages with oil and ghee
Flowing oil treatment
Special massages (herbal compress massage, singing bowl massage or silk glove massage)
Ushnodaka therapy (drinking hot water)
The three Doshas of Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta and Kapha
The three constitutional types (Doshas) play an important role in Ayurvedic teaching. The Doshas are the three vital energies present in everyone in different proportions.
Vata (air and ether) is the principle of movement and represents lightness and flexibility. It controls all the activity in the body (breathing, circulation, nerve impulses). An excess of Vata can cause anxiety and tension.
Pitta (fire and water) is the principle of transformation and represents energy and courage. Pitta regulates the breakdown of food in the body (via processes such as metabolism and energy production). Too much Pitta can lead to inflammation and irritability.
Kapha (earth and water) is the principle of stability and represents peace and serenity. Kapha is responsible for the immune system and gives a person strength of mind and spirit. A Kapha imbalance can lead to idleness and weight gain.
Each person has an individual mix of all three Doshas, and is categorised as a Vata, Pitta or Kapha type depending on their dominant energy. It is vital that your treatment and nutrition programmes respond to your specific Dosha type, as each Dosha type has different requirements.
Dosha imbalances should be harmonised by means of appropriate therapies and the right diet, as a healthy balance between the three Doshas inspires wellbeing of mind, body and spirit.
Ayurvedic massages: relaxation for body and mind
Massage is of great importance in Ayurveda. The Indian health philosophy recommends massages to treat various complaints, to prevent illness and to strengthen the immune system. A relaxing Ayurvedic massage might be just what you need to help you unwind and achieve a state of deep relaxation for body and mind.
Different forms of massage may be used depending on your Dosha type, the season, and any acute symptoms. Our qualified experts at the Mandira work their magic with personalised wellness massages such as:
Full-body oil massage with oil (Abhyanga)
Herbal compress massage (Udvartana)
Ayurvedic foot massage (Padabhyanga)
Abdominal massage (Udanavata)
Classic back massage
Silk glove massage (Garshan)
Massages with two therapists
Meditative singing bowl massage
The list of massage’s positive effects is long, and ranges from releasing muscle tension and improving sleep to psychological benefits and firmer tissue. A professional massage actively stimulates lymphatic flow and promotes internal cleansing and detoxification.
Ayurvedic nutrition: light and healthy
Ayurvedic nutrition is an integral part of an internal cleanse. Ayurveda teaches that the right diet cleanses from the inside out as it stimulates metabolism.
Ayurveda considers food an important pillar of a healthy lifestyle. Eating mindfully and in moderation, and enjoying meals in a pleasant environment are central tenets of Ayurvedic nutrition. Warm and easily digestible foods are recommended as these boost digestive fire (Agni).
Spices such as ginger, turmeric, cumin and saffron promote good digestion and therefore play an important role in Ayurvedic cuisine. But it is always important to remember that diet needs to be adapted to your personal Dosha type. For example, type-appropriate Ayurvedic tea is a healthy way to bring your Doshas into harmony.
You can find herbal and spiced teas for Vatas, Pittas and Kaphas in our online shop.
Ayurvedic recipe idea: warm spelt porridge
65g ground spelt
1 tsp ghee
400 ml water
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
5 cardamom pods
½ cinnamon stick
1 grated apple
1 tbsp maple syrup
Melt the ghee in a pan and lightly brown the ground spelt. Add the water and season with the ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and maple syrup. Stir in the grated apple and briefly bring to the boil before serving.
Ayurvedic medicine: natural medicine from India and Sri Lanka
In the west, Ayurveda has become something of a wellness trend. But behind the oil massages and heat therapies, Ayurvedic medicine is based on complex medical knowledge and is even taught at university level in India. Indian Ayurvedic physicians undertake over five years of training before graduating in Ayurvedic medicine.
Unlike western medicine, Ayurvedic teaching takes a holistic approach to illness and health, which are seen as resulting from a person’s whole lifestyle. Mind, body and spirit are considered as one, and Ayurvedic treatments target both physical and psychological wellbeing.
However, it should also be noted that Ayurvedic treatments often do not meet the scientific standards of evidence-based western medicine, so it is advisable to consider the Indian natural medicine as a valuable complement to conventional methods.
Inner harmony with Yoga and meditation
Yoga and Ayurveda go hand in hand – the practice of meditative Yoga is an inherent feature of Ayurvedic medicine as it promotes cleansing, both inside and out. Yoga and meditation help us learn to let go and shed emotional baggage. At the Mandira we offer intensive Yoga, meditation and mind detox programmes.
Meditation allows us to practise being mindful of ourselves and our environment, which makes it easier for us to calm the mind and focus on the here and now. Regular meditation supports health in many ways and is proven to improve chronic pain, psychological illnesses and sleep disorders.
Yoga is also a great way to bring balance to your daily routine – it’s not surprising that it has become so popular in the West! Through Yoga, we can learn to be more mindful of our own bodies and build up strength and flexibility. And there are so many health benefits. Scientific studies show that Yoga:
Lowers blood pressure
Relieves back pain and headaches
Improves sleep quality
It’s also great fun! And it gives us a good opportunity to take time out from everyday life. Try it! Test the healing effects of Yoga with a qualified instructor on an Ayurvedic holiday at the Mandira.
Mandira Resort: your authentic Ayurveda hotel in Styria
At the Mandira, we are enthusiastic about Ayurvedic medicine and what it can do. We believe in the life-affirming approach of Ayurveda, and strive to help our guests:
Shed physical and emotional baggage
Renew energy and zest for life
Boost the immune system and strengthen resistance
Find inner harmony
And simply feel good!
Our European Ayurveda® concept extracts the best bits from the Indian practice and adapts them to suit European requirements. You can experience it at the Mandira, where we offer delicious Ayurvedic cuisine geared towards European culinary preferences, consultations with trained Ayurvedic specialists, and a wide range of beneficial treatments, massages and activity programmes.
Boost your health with Ayurveda
Ayurveda is so much more than a wellness trend. Based on ancient teachings, it tunes into your body’s individual requirements. A balanced and mindful lifestyle based on Ayurvedic principles can guide you on your path to contentment, wellbeing and health. Your new, positive lifestyle starts with the cornerstones of type-appropriate nutrition, meditation, Yoga and relaxing massages to strengthen resistance and achieve balance, inside and out.