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Ancient Healing Practices

Jennifer DiFrancescoMany answers we seek to feel vibrant and take care of our health and wellness, exist as natural remedies dating back 5,000 years. There is a science of self-understanding that originated in India called Ayurveda, translating from Sanskrit to mean “Science of Life.” It is a system of empowerment that looks at everything affecting a person, including food, the changing of seasons and emotions, and the interplay of cause and effect.

Ayurveda is a simple system of healing that can become complicated. Our Western views limit us in relating to this science-of-self understanding. We are not used to empowering ourselves with answers, and instead seek answers from health professionals. A combination of self introspection and a western health approach can be a better partnership to start the process towards understanding the why’s and how’s of good health.

Since Ayurveda relates to every way in which we live, a means of understanding the approach is to look at the changing of the seasons, and how our well-being is affected. In the Coachella Valley, seasonal change is less evident through the amber hue of leaves falling on the ground. We can feel the relief of heat from summer to fall, yet how profound are the seasonal changes on each one of us?

In Ayurveda, healing is first approached by breaking down everything into five primary elements. The elements are ether (which is space), air, fire, water and earth. Nature also has these elements as inherent characteristics of its makeup. Each season has a specific dosha or combination of elements that make up the season: Springtime – Earth / Fire; Summer – Fire; Fall – Air; Winter – Earth.

Each one of these elements characterizes the season and stirs within each of us, mixing with our own elemental predominance, to create symptoms. This can show as either ease or disease. Right now we are transitioning to fall weather which is a time of year that is characterized by the air element from an Ayurvedic perspective. All aspects around us are cool, dry, rough (such as our skin) and lighter. This is vastly different than the summer. With fire in its character, summer is hot, penetrating and dry. This is what fire does to our inner and outer landscape.

Each of us has a different balance of these elements in constant interplay within our bodies. If we have fire predominance and live in the summertime desert, we will experience heightened symptoms of fire imbalances. We would then need to find ways to work naturally to bring the body into better equilibrium. This internal elemental cocktail also changes based on time of day, season, and time of life. Everything we do, from the type of exercise we choose to the foods we eat, affects the elemental balance inside us. These are universal laws of nature that are eternally true.

Jennifer is a Desert native with 20 years of experience in the spa industry. She is the Spa and Sports Club Director at Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells.

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