Updated: Aug 8
An American consultant friend of mine says that Ayurveda needs to go through a Nike rebranding in order for more people to adopt it. I wonder if you agree with him. My parents in Rhode Island still cannot pronounce it properly. I think they say something like “Aya-veda”. As of right now, I find people who have heard about Ayurveda in the United States are usually yoga and meditation people, Indian people, people who have been to India, people into natural remedies, beauty influencers, those who haven’t found answers to their health questions from any other type of doctor yet, and those who are extra-curious about their body - especially how their diet, lifestyle, digestion, mental-emotional health interface (hence why it’s a natural fit for individuals with higher self-awareness). So far, I haven’t seen Ayurveda being accessible for everyone.
Talk about doing something weird? My father thought I had joined a cult when I was in Ayurveda school, but alas, I was simply studying herbs, foods, etc. What’s so weird about that? Our grandmothers all did that.
I’m told by my Indian teachers that Ayurvedic medicine in India was the medicine of kings before the British rule brought allopathic medicine along with it, and then Ayurveda went to the villages. Today, we see Modi promoting the heck out of Ayurveda, India’s crown jewel of traditional medicines.
I fell in love with Ayurveda for a few reasons. For one, it made me feel like I had more control over my health than I’d previously given myself credit for, and at the same time, I was able to see how my health was impacted by the environment in which I spent time. Oh, and I just felt better.
I was a yoga teacher, and somehow I’d been primed for Ayurveda to make sense. The introduction of Sanskrit pose names during yoga teacher training made it easier for me to later learn all of the disease processes, herbs and treatments in Sanskrit during Ayurveda school. I used to sit in a coffee shop in the Mission District in San Francisco, about two blocks from Mark Zuckerberg’s house, and translate Sanskrit texts for fun.
What really sealed the deal for me was the way the Ayurvedic medical texts are written. They are written in sutras, which some people refer to as theorems, but I’ve always felt that they are like poems. The texts don’t just speak to your head. They wake up your heart. Ayurveda was so much more inspiring than the mainstream medical system I was working in at the time, where I was head of product development for a health insurance company (*snooze*).
While I was doing my master’s thesis on fasting, one of my advisors was a world-renowned Ayurvedic physician and medical astrologer from a family of Vedic healers in India. The other was a pujari, or priest, from the local Hindu temple. I, a girl who was raised Catholic, spent my time not only researching fasting in the biomedical literature, but also how all the major religions use fasting. This was right before intermittent fasting became such a huge trend.
In the process of my own fasting, I got rid of tumors and got off all the herbs I was taking because I no longer needed them.
I recently took the first Ayurvedic Doctor board-certification exam in the United States (though I’m not sure I passed). We have to “do” Ayurveda in the US a little differently than India’s Ayurveda, partially for legal reasons, but also because we lack the Ayurveda infrastructure in the US. While this feels like sacrilege to many of my Indian colleagues, I always remember that in a body, when something passes through a membrane, it ends up with different properties on the other side.
While Ayurveda is very physically focused, it never lost sight of the body’s spiritual, emotional and mental connection. I know many people today feel like just another set of blood results being reported to their doctor, but luckily there are many allopathic doctors who are curious about integrating Ayurvedic medicine into their practices. Of my own client base, I would say that at least 60% of my clients in the last few years have been medical professionals - MDs, nurses, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, etc.
See? Even though it seems like the healthcare system is overrun with fancy technology and single-use plastics, mainstream medical providers are at the same time looking to reconnect with traditional medicines.
You will connect with Ayurveda, which means “knowledge of life”, for your own reasons.
How do YOU connect with this life?
What do you want to know about your own life - your own heartbeat, skin, gut, fertility, longevity? Or the tears you’ve held back? Or the health condition you just can’t understand? Are there herbs you could be taking that could help your body sleep better, digest better?
Let us answer the questions, so the mind and body can find peace. Because when that happens, you can give your body, mind and soul fully to the world.