Ayurveda, India’s most ancient holistic healing system which has been used for thousands of years, is a way of life believed to help keep the mind, body and spirit in healthy balance.


Ayurveda, India’s most ancient holistic healing system which has been used for thousands of years, is a way of life believed to help keep the mind, body and spirit in healthy balance.

Ayurveda, India’s most ancient holistic healing system which has been used for thousands of years, is a way of life believed to help keep the mind, body and spirit in healthy balance.

Now the principles of the world’s oldest healing system – which might combine nutrition, yoga, meditation, herbal remedies and massage – are being widely adopted in the western world.

Madonna, Cindy Crawford, Demi Moore, Richard Gere and Jemma Kidd are just some of the famous-name devotees.

Beauty from within
The main aim of Ayurveda, whose name comes from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘the science of life’, is to encourage people to take control of their wellbeing, both physical and spiritual, by understanding the body’s imbalances and rectifying these with diet and self-help therapies.

According to holistic health and beauty guru Bharti Vyas, whose clients include Lady Helen Taylor, Julia Carling and Belinda Carlisle: "The key to Ayurveda is in treating the mind, body and spirit as one entity.

It is not enough just to treat the symptoms of disease.

Effective treatment encompasses the whole body. If you have a headache or back pain, it is only natural that it will affect your mental wellbeing.

Equally, your mood also feeds your state of health.
A treatment might entail dietary advice, yoga, meditation and massage and what is so wonderful is that it is all natural.

Many people find when they adopt an Ayurvedic lifestyle, health problems disappear, energy levels rise, sleep improves and weight usually balances itself out."

Ayurvedic philosophy
The Ayurvedic philosophy works on the belief that there are five elemental forces – space, air, fire, water and earth – which are transformed into three universal energy forces that govern every living creature.
These three constitutional types are called ‘doshas’ and, depending on your temperament and physical health, there is a tendency for one or two to dominate in each person.

The three doshas, called Pitta, Vata or Kapha, are described as Fire, Air and Earth.

Most people show one dominant dosha but will also have traits of the other two.

The role of the Ayurvedic practitioner is to make sure that the doshas remain balanced.

"Imbalances are caused by natural causes – such as extreme changes in our surroundings due to natural catastrophes and also unnatural causes due to the lifestyle we lead," explains Dr Prasanna Kerur, of the Ayush Wellness Spa in Jersey.

Consult a practitioner
An Ayurvedic practitioner will ask about your lifestyle, medical history and eating habits.

They will then help you to relax through breathing exercises, take your pulse and look at your eyes, skin, nails and tongue – to enable them to work out your constitutional type, assess your condition and choose treatments.

The three Doshas
Pitta (Fire)
Characteristics: Medium build and height, soft fair skin.

Prone to acne and black moles. More likely to go grey early or, if male, suffer from baldness. Intolerant to the heat and the sun.

Personality: Approachable, artistic but can be jealous, aggressive and easily irritated.

Articulate, good leader and fiery, passionate, dynamic and inspirational, but can be over-critical of others and often too intense and competitive.

Common complaints: Most prone to falling ill during the late spring/summer. High temperature, cracking and itchy skin, excessive thirst, skin warts, jaundice, bitter taste in the mouth.

Recommended foods: Milk, butter, apples, avocado, watermelon, chicken, rice, wholegrains.

Foods to avoid: Too much spicy food and alcohol, caffeine, salt, oily foods.

Steer clear of: Too much sun, saunas.

Celebrity examples: Madonna, Cindy Crawford, Jennifer Aniston.

Vata (Air)
Characteristics: Likely to be slender and unable to gain weight easily. Tends to have dry skin and fine hair. Intolerant of cold, windy weather which leads to cold hands and feet in the winter.

Personality: Unpredictable, creative and artistic. Highly motivated but easily stressed, scatty and quickly exhausted. Tends to be anxious and avoids confrontation.

Common complaints: Prone to sensitive skin, headaches, eczema, nervous disorders, digestive problems.

Recommended foods: Milk, green beans, eggs, fish, almonds, sunflower seeds.

Foods to avoid: Chilled drinks, raw food.

Steer clear of: Too many late nights, over-exercising.

Celebrity examples: Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts.

Kapha (Earth)
Characteristics: Often large-framed. Clear complexion and a slow, deep pulse rate.

Personality: Honourable and loving. Solid, dependable and very loyal. Enjoys tradition and resistant to change. Sometimes lethargic and greedy.

Common complaints: Prone to ill health during the spring and late winter. Illnesses tend to revolve around congestion, fluid retention or excess mucus.

Vulnerable to obesity, anorexia nervosa, drowsiness, laziness, atherosclerosis, loss of memory.

Recommended foods: Apples, apricots, peaches, plenty of fresh vegetables, chillies, onion, chicken, fish.

Foods to avoid: Sweet foods, fatty foods, dairy products, heavy starchy foods.

Steer clear of: Insufficient exercise, overeating, excessive dependence on a loving relationship.

Celebrity examples: Kate Winslet, Christina Ricci, Oprah Winfrey.

The miracle of massage
Massage is an essential element of Ayurvedic therapy and the techniques used concentrate on the Marma points of the body, opening up vital ‘energy’ channels.

"Ayurveda treats the whole person, working holistically, combining nutrition, herbal remedies, yoga and massage," explains Sunita Passi, founder of Tri-Dosha, which offers treatments and professional training courses.

"The treatments are all individualised with specific Ayurvedic oils chosen according to your constitution.

"According to Ayurvedic tradition, treatments work on the left hand side of the body first which is governed by the part of the brain that controls our emotions rather than the right hand side, which is governed by the more practical side of the brain."

Key Ayurvedic treatments
Shirodhara: A deep massage which stills the mind, allowing all the senses to let go, and releases stress from the nervous system.

Warm oil is massaged into the scalp prior to a gentle stream of herbal-infused oil being poured onto the forehead or ‘third eye’ which gently flows through the hair.

The whole body is totally calmed and the senses left heightened.

Marma Abhyanga: A purely rejuvenating treatment which uses yogic stretches to work the body and warm oils to loosen joints.

The treatment is delivered by two therapists who work in synchronised harmony, matching pressure and touch in long, flowing movements.

Ayurvedic Facial: A deep treatment that works on the Marma points of the face and scalp to reduce stress, lift tension and boost the skin.

Find out more
For further information, contact the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association via www.apa.uk.com.

The Ayush Wellness Spa in Jersey runs a two-night Pure Cleanse Programme which includes an Ayurvedic consultation, two treatments plus yoga and meditation classes. Prices start from £316-£340, based on two people sharing. Visit www.ayushspa.com.

Sunita Passi’s Tri-Dosha treatments are at the Rejuvenation Spa at the Baglioni Hotel in London. For full details on the Tri-Dosha Ayurvedic product range, visit www.tri-dosha.co.uk.

Star devotees
"After just a few treatments I feel great," says Jemma Kidd.

"My dosha is Vata-Pitta which means I can easily get burned out and the treatments, particularly the hot-oil massages, are very calming.

I also follow Ayurvedic principles in my diet – I sip lemon and hot water and eat ginger before meals to aid my digestion."

As a ‘Pitta’, Madonna steers clear of caffeine and red meat, eating little and often, and uses essential oils like bergamot, lemon and juniper to relax and rejuvenate.

Supermodel Christy Turlington was introduced to the practice of Ayurveda through yoga.

She was so impressed by this holistic approach to life that she launched her own cosmetic line, Sundari, based on the philosophy of Ayurveda.

"I love this no-nonsense, practical approach to wellbeing. It makes perfect sense," says Belinda Carlisle.