The eastern discipline of yoga has made it into nearly every neighborhood, athletic center and wellness clinic over the last two decades, becoming a household word in the West.
But it’s taken a little longer for its sister science to travel overseas, and any mention of it in social circles has English-speakers tripping over its pronunciation: “Ah-yervey-duh.”
An ancient medical practice that focuses on holistic healing, Ayurveda considers both the mind and the physical body in its application. The science, which has been around for thousands of years in sia, serves as a parallel medical system in India, offering an alternative to mainstream modern medicine.
Recognizing the healing power of the practice and its potential outside of India, 30-year-old StanfordUniversity graduate Celina de Leon aims to make Ayurveda more familiar in this corner of the Western Hemisphere. Partnering with doctors, medical practitioners and philanthropists in Costa Rica, she’s building the foundation or an Ayurvedic clinic near the Central Pacific port town of Quepos.
“Everyone in the world can benefit from Ayurveda,” said de Leon, who traveled to India on a Fulbright Scholarship to research the ancient medical practice. “Ayurveda not only targets disease and illness, but it also ids in [leading] a positive lifestyle.”
As a means to expand the local knowledge base of the centuries-old system, de Leon brought Dr. Srinivas Acharya to Costa Rica where he’s delivered a series of lectures both in San José and at the PosadaNaturaRetreatCenter in the town of Londres, inland from Quepos.
The India-based doctor, who serves as director of the International Studies Program at GujuratAyurvedUniversity, said it’s only a matter of time before Ayurveda follows in the footsteps of yoga in the Western world. “India is a country that is selfcontained,” said Acharya. “There was never any marketing of yoga abroad. But yoga eventually came out on its own, and I believe Ayurveda will do the same.”
The practice is based on the body’s natural power to heal. Combining diet, herbal remedies, sleep patterns, meditation, massage and yoga, Ayurveda is a science that seeks to achieve a balanced state both in mind and in body.
“There are so many methods involved,” Acharya said. “What doctors do is look into a patient’s lifestyle and advise them on what they need to adjust.”
Sometimes the advice is to eliminate day napping, other times it’s adding different dietary supplements. Daily meditation, yoga, de-toxing and massage therapy are also important components of a prescription.
“The idea behind Ayurveda is to analyze one’s lifestyle and improve how it is ordered to better preserve health,” Acharya summarized. “Traditionally, medical systems are limited to the physical body, but this science sees the problem in both the mind and the body. It offers something that no other medical practice in the world can give.”
The plans are to build the clinic at the 2,000-hectare Eco Era Reserve (www.ecoera.org) near Quepos, a refuge established by Gustavo Caldarelli almost twenty years ago.
“I came here to protect the environment,” said Argentinean-born Caldarelli, who’s backing de Leon’s initiative by incorporating the clinic into the reserve. “But I learned that one way to take care of the environment is to take care of the people.”
The Ayurvedic clinic will be a branch of the Sankalpa Institute (www.sankalpainstitute.com) and will treat both local and foreign patients.