by Gopi Warrior, Dr. Harish Verma, Karen Sullivan
I've been aware of Ayurveda for a while but this is the first time I sat down and read a book about it. This one is divided into four chapters: Ayurveda: The Science of Life, The Ayurdedic Approach, Diet and Lifestyle and Practitioner Led or Self-Help?
The first chapter explains what Ayurveda is and gives history and a method to determine your Ayurvedic constitution. It points out that medicine is one "spoke on the wheel" of a holistic lifestyle approach to promote balance and good health, thereby making it easier to combat illness and mostly prevent it.
It explains that illness affects both body and mind and not just one in isolation of the other. It claims that modern illnesses like chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome have been successfully treated with Ayurveda when modern medicine has failed.
It has its roots in Hinduism and both date back over 5000 years, yet stay dynamic to keep up with modern conditions. There are some surprising facts cited about the history, like knowledge of cells and microscopic organisms in a book written 2000 years before the microscope was invented. There's a strong spiritual connection with the practice, yet it embraces science and finds a balance between the two.
The book is filled with colourful pictures of the sort you might see in Hindu texts or temples and these are accompanied by snippets of relevant information. Over all the book is beautifully laid out.
Naturally the Hindu belief system that Ayurveda is based in comes into it and the concept of Karma is explained in full as well as the belief in reincarnation connected with it. In some ways the book is repetitive as the basic concepts get restated many times, but I can see why it is important to drive a different way of thinking into the average western mind.
I admit to feeling some scepticism about the physical types and how it affects the person to be one or another. It seemed too generalised to me. Having said that, I fell heavily into the Kapha category. The second chapter expands on methods and the third chapter, as the title suggests, deals with diet and lifestyle. The final chapter explains when you need to see a practitioner and how to treat yourself at home.
Overall I found the book very informative and easy to follow. While I might not be in complete alignment with the beliefs expressed, they are explained well and I felt the book covered the subject very thoroughly and clearly.