It is time for people to reclaim their bodies and take more control over their own health, says Farida Irani, because “It is their birthright.”
Farida is a qualified Ayurveda practitioner and an organizer of The Second International Ayurveda and Yoga Conference in Sydney in early April, one of the largest of its kind seen in Australia.
Ayurveda, considered to be one of the oldest medical systems in the world, uses a combination of oils, herbs, diet, meditation, and exercise to restore equilibrium to an individual’s system.
Ill health, or “disease,” is created by imbalances within the body’s system, which Farida says is common in today’s modern world.
“It’s all about balance. There is such stress on people’s systems today as they juggle family life, personal life, [and] hectic corporate life. They need to balance their lives,” says Farida.
“Yoga is incorporated to unite mind, body, and spirit.”
According to Farida, present concerns about the environment parallel life in India 5,000 years ago, when it is likely there was also an environmental crisis. At that time, a conference was held to address the imbalance. Ancient Indian texts describe how the old wise ones, rishis, vaidyas, and yogis, came out of their retreats to share their knowledge about life and the human condition.
“Ancient texts document this conference, which was called because mankind had moved away from harmonizing with the environment,” she explained.
The term “Ayurveda” combines the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). Thus, Ayurveda means literally “the science of life.”
Knowledge from the ancient conference was passed down through word of mouth and spanned eight different branches of medicine, including surgery, psychology, gynecology, toxicology, and pediatrics. These were then compiled around 2,000 years ago into two main Vedic texts, which form the basis of Ayurveda today.
“Ayurveda teaches that humans are made of the same elements as the universe—air, earth, ether, fire, and water, and so we are interdependent on nature. … We have to respect the environment.”
Ayurveda treatment involves determining the root cause of an ailment through pulse evaluation, physical analysis, and observation of an individual.
Much of the practices, however, are based on prevention and maintenance, particularly through yoga, meditation, daily routine, and diet.
“If people follow the principles, it will keep disease away. You can use simple herbs and oils that will keep coughs and colds and flu away. You will then be less taxing on the medical system,” Farida added.
Ayurvedic medicine continues to be practiced in India where about 80 percent of the population uses it either exclusively or in combination with Western medicine. It is also widely used in Europe, and in the United States is classified as complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM), or both complementary (to Western medicine) and alternative.
“We are not trying to take over conventional medicine. We want to complement it,” Farida said of the impetus behind the Australian conference.
The conference will bring together over 35 international and local leaders in the field of Ayurveda and yoga, including the founder of Yoga in Daily Life, author, and speaker H. H. Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda and Dr. P. H. Kulkarni, the founder of the Ayurveda Academy in India and the inspiration behind the inaugural conference in Australia in 2006.
Topics of discussion include the ayurvedic approach to cancer, the healing power of mantra and yoga therapy, and the impact of physical space on well-being.
Also of interest will be teacher of Aboriginal bush medicine Noel Butler, a Budawang man from the south coast of New South Wales.
“Ayurveda can after all be everywhere. The Aborigines in Australia hold the teaching of the Ayurveda of Australia,” said Farida of Mr. Butler’s contribution.