Ayurveda is gaining more and more spotlight in the mainstream media, as yoga became increasingly popular, and every fashionable café has turmeric lattes (or Golden Milk) and bliss balls (or Ladoos) on their menu. Many people in the West are still confused about this ancient science and philosophy and have no clue how to integrate it into their everyday lives. So was I when I first learned about it, being no exception from large group of young girls who got into the yoga craze via social media. Ayruveda is one of the oldest form of medicine. In fact it’s a whole science built around every aspect of life. It basically covers everything that is worth to cover (and what is not?) and if you want to be a good practitioner you have to learn and go through intense education for many many years, so it is no surprise that on the West we don’t get it for first.
There are a few things almost everyone gets wrong about Ayurveda but in fact it is not so difficult to understand on a base level and to incorporate it into our daily lives have tremendous amount of benefits. But the image social media depicts about things often comes from people who have no idea what they talk about, hence the confusion and misunderstandings.
Here are some of the greatest myths about Ayurveda that I also believed before I was properly introduced through a knowledgable Ayurvedic practitioner in India.
- Ayurveda is yet another fad diet/life style
Ayurveda is health system that originates from about 5,000 years ago, but it wasn’t widely known until recent times when spirituality became popular through the internet and the hype up of yoga and colorful pictures taken of exotic foods on tropical beaches. Ayurveda is a complex science which includes our dietetic habits and our overall lifestyle as well but it’s much more than that. It’s a common misconception because one doesn’t need to be an Ayurvedic doctor or vaidya to follow an Ayurvedic diet or some lifestyle advices and these aspects became the most highlighted via spiritual influencers. Also on the West most Eastern medicine is looked at as less serious, despite they are way older and all stood the test of time, so it only needs a little more opening of our minds to change this belief. Ayurveda treats patients as an individual whole and treats the root cause, not the symptoms, unlike Western medicine. Another reason could be that in Western countries it’s unlikely to find Ayurvedic courses at medical universities so for us, it’s unfamiliar but in India there are hundreds of universities where we could graduate from Ayurvedic medicine and surgery.
- It can’t be integrated into a sped up modern lifestyle
Luckily everything is possible if we really want it, and in my opinion if one leads a stressful, modern lifestyle they should try to integrate some kind of natural medicine and spiritual practices into their sped up days – like meditation. It can look intimidating and too much if you look at Ayurveda as the whole complex system as it is but the key is to integrate a few principles slowly. This way you can start by things that appeal to you and find more things you like and delve more deeper into them. Once you understand the basic principles ayurveda can be made extremely personal and find that it adjusts to your lifestyle perfectly. I started to adapt Ayurvedic principles by studying the circadian rhythm and changed my bedtime to 10pm, woke before 6am and had my largest meal between 10am-2pm when the digestion is strongest.
- Ayurvedic cooking equals Indian cooking
When it comes to food people often assume that Ayurveda is vegan, raw, “clean” or simply mistaken it with Indian cuisine. While many wellness trends are aspects of Ayurveda (almond milk, herbal supplements, etc) it is more than that. Another misconception is that Ayurveda bans meat and onion, garlic from cooking, which are considered as “Tamasic food” that are harmful to the body. Ayurveda is primarily vegetarian, with a place for dairy foods—which is an aspect that’s not suitable for vegans. Ayurveda is all about balance. If you choose incompatible food combinations or eat certain foods at unfavorable times, there are always additions, remedies, and substitutions you can use to make the food more digestible.
- It promises quick, one-size-fits all resolutions and has no side effects
Nowadays everyone looks for quick solutions that will work for them as much as it worked for anyone else, especially celebrities and influencers. In the West, we have a linear way of looking at things and putting everything into boxes. Ayurveda is everything but the opposite. Ayurveda understands that every person is unique and people and their environments evolve depending on many factors—so for this complicated reason, looking at well-being in a holistic way makes a lot of sense. As they say: “one man’s medicine might be another’s poison.” Ayurveda can give quicker and slower resolutions, it is very personalized as it builds on the understanding of the 3 doshas and as everything, Ayurvedic treatment can have side effects, too. If anyone ever tells you that a medication or health system or whatever has no side effects, I’d recommend to not believe it 100%.
- It’s a religion
This is a misconception I often hear but not only about Ayurveda, but yoga and meditation as well. Ayurveda became more popular in the 60s and it arrived with yoga and was often mentioned as “spiritual philosophy.” Naturally, Ayurveda can be part of a religious life but on its own it is not a religion. Referring back to point 2, this also shows how well Ayruveda can be incorporated into anyones lifestyle: I know several religious people from different faiths who keeping their own faith, still picked up practices like yoga and follow the guidelines of Ayurvedic diet. And don’t forget, Christianity also talks about meditation. Our food or the way we move our bodies or having a mental “diet” are just base pillars of living a good life.
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