Two years ago, I decided to see a doctor
to get help devising a stress-management strategy. I felt frazzled, unfocused,
and overwhelmed by my then-recent move from a sleepy town to a bustling
city. Skeptical of Western medicine (and lacking health insurance!),
I opted to see an ayurvedic physician recommended by a trusted yoga teacher.
I must confess that at the time, I knew next to nothing about ayurveda.
I had read a little about it during my years of yoga practice, and understood
it to be the application of yogic principles to create a healthy lifestyle.
Since, I've come to realize that ayurveda, the “mother of medicine,” is
the oldest-known system of healthcare. Its teachings are based on writings
from the third millennium to the eighth century bc. Taken from the Sanskrit ayus ,
meaning “life,” and veda meaning “knowledge,” the word ayurveda translates
most accurately to mean “the science of life.” It takes a decidedly holistic
approach to health, encompassing over twenty formulations for perfect
health including body care and diet, food supplements, aromatherapy,
purification rites, music therapy, meditation, and breathing exercises.
Hopeful that all of this might transform me into a vision of health
and vitality, I visited the home office of Cate, a highly professional
yet friendly physician certified by the reputable California
College of Ayurveda . As with any doctor, my first task was to complete
a slew of forms answering questions on a range of topics: my sleeping
habits, relationship status, diet, level of professional satisfaction,