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An Introduction to Ayurveda

Welcome to Ayurveda St. Louis, the metro-east's resource for the principles and practice of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is defined as the "science of life" or the "art and science of life and longevity". Its purpose is to heal body/mind, maintain life and increase the health and longevity of each individual. Originating in India it is the sister science to yoga. Ayurveda focuses on the "art of daily living" and is unique to each individual. The principles of Ayurveda have remained unchanged for thousands of years and are regarded as giving birth to modern medicinal and surgical practices.

Ayurveda places great importance on the maintenance of health through dietary and lifestyle practices. Proper exercise, yoga, bio-individual nutrition/cooking methods, meditation and herbal regimens are designed according to each individual's prakruti (constitution) and vikriti (current imbalance). Ayurveda looks deeply into the client's history, environment and lifestyle choices, educating the individual to make choices that will lead to greater physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being.

Our journey begins by understanding our unique constitution (prakruti) or genetic make-up determined at the time of conception. It is the genetic/elemental blueprint that determines our psycho-physiological responses to our environment. How each individual

responds to physical/emotional stress, food choices, traumas and seasonal changes, directly affects our state of health. Given this information, we can then make informed choices to minimize or eliminate the habits that create imbalance.

The modern world presents us with stresses and challenges that disturb our internal and external balance. This deviation from our constitutional balance (vikriti) may lead to physical/emotional imbalance or disease. The principles and practice of Ayurveda enable us to gain awareness and control over these factors and facilitate optimal health, well-being and prevention of disease.

The ancient texts of Ayurveda describe three functional principles or energetic expressions that are present in everyone and everything. Vata is the principle of movement, Pitta the principle of digestion and metabolism and kapha the energy of structure and lubrication. Ayurveda views the disease process as an excess or deficiency of VPK at the cellular level. Creation of health or disease is dependent upon the dietary/lifestyle choices we make and their direct effect on these three principles.

Vata is the energetic expression of movement. It governs respiration, pulsation of the heart, muscle and tissue movement

and all movement at the cellular level. In balance Vata is responsible for creativity and flexibility. Signs of imbalance manifest as fear and anxiety.

Pitta is the energetic expression of the metabolic processes at the gross and cellular level. Pitta directs the processes of digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. Balanced Pitta promotes intelligence and understanding while an imbalanced state produces anger, jealousy and hatred.

Kapha is the energetic expression of structure and lubrication. Kapha supports and gives structure to the body and manifests as bones, muscles and tendons. It is responsible for supplying fluids to all bodily structures.

An Ayurvedic practitioner uses signs and symptoms of balance/imbalance to consider the appropriate diet, lifestyle, herbal regimens and therapies through direct questioning, observation and physical examination. I encourage you to explore the contents of this site and the wealth of information that Ayurveda offers to address your specific needs.

Mike Elliff LMT, KYT 500, CAy



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Ghee: Sattva-guni ( “mode of goodness” )

Similar in nature to clarified butter, Ghee is prepared by heating butter to remove the water and milk solids or fats. Known in Ayurveda as a rasayana, ghee strengthens the mind and body. Ghee makes food more digestible, intensifies the taste and preserves the
flavors of food when braising or sautéing. Use in place of other cooking oils. Ghee increases agni or "digestive fire" without increasing Pitta and nourishes all 7 dhatu or tissues of the body-mind.
1.  Melt one pound of organic unsalted butter in a deep stainless steel pot over a low flame. Allow butter to simmer over low heat.
2.  Watch the butter closely over the next 20-60 minutes depending on the water content of the butter and the heat of the flame. The butter will begin to bubble and "sing". The sound you hear is the water evaporating from the butter. As the water evaporates, milk solids will begin to develop a foam on the surface. Do not skim or stir.
3.  Remove the pot from the stove as soon as you notice the sound of the oil quieting and the milk solids turning golden brown on the bottom of the pot. At this point the ghee should have a nutty aroma. You must keep a close eye on the ghee at this point as it will burn and you will have to begin again.
4.  Allow the ghee to sit 15-20 minutes to cool slightly. Carefully pour the finished product through a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a sterilized heat-proof container. The milk solids should stay at the bottom of the pot or be trapped in the filter.
5.  Cap the product tightly when cool to prevent moisture from entering the ghee.
6.  Good ghee is clear and does not need to be refrigerated. If you do not cook ghee long enough it will mold due to the retained water content. Be sure to use a clean spoon to remove the ghee from its container.