Women's Health South Africa
WTF Is Ayurveda Image Credit: Women's Health South Africa
WTF Is Ayurveda Image Credit: Women's Health South Africa

WTF Is Ayurveda?

It’s the ancient science inspiring modern meal plans, travel retreats and self-help books. WH delves behind the doshas to find out how – and why – Ayurveda has gone mainstream

Alix O’Neill

Feeding your digestive fire. Eating for your dosha. Syncing with the earth’s circadian rhythm. Be so brave as to announce your burgeoning interest in Ayurveda at the next family gathering and you risk being written off as the kind of wellness warrior who lives for their daily Goop newsletter. But suppress the cynicism by imparting the knowledge that Ayurvedic habits have probably slipped into your companions’ daily routines while they weren’t looking and suddenly you’re no longer going out on a woo-woo limb. That morning hot water and lemon or turmeric latte addiction? Just two trends that, while feeling totally modern, are actually as old as the hills – around 5 000 years, in fact.

Ayurveda’s ancient Eastern sister practice, yoga, has gone from niche to normal and now #Ayurveda pulls up over one million snaps on Instagram, while beauty giant Clarins has added turmeric to its cult Double Serum anti-ageing product. Ayurveda retreats are the new yoga escapes and you could fill a library with the new-release book titles aiming to bring ancient Eastern wisdom to modern Westerners.

“Ayurveda was born out of deep meditation practised by Vedic sages, known as ‘rishis’, who were in search of peace and enlightenment about the secrets of eternal well-being,” explains Geeta Vara, an Ayurvedic practitioner and author of Ayurveda: Ancient Wisdom For Modern Wellbeing. “The rishis passed on thi

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