Ayurveda is a sophisticated and vast system that goes WAY beyond constitution type and kitchari. It is a complete science of life, a way to explore our relationship to the world around usand discover how to walk on a path to a life of balance in our own unique way.
If you have been recently introduced to Ayurveda, or have been dabbling for years but are yearning to know more, it might be difficult to know where to start. Of course, reading foundational texts like the Charaka Samhita would be ideal, but as a westerner and probably not a vedic scholar, you need something more approachable to get started. Here are, in my view, the 5 best Ayurveda books for beginners:
For the philosopher, the thinker
Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution, Dr Robert Svoboda’s original work on the constitutional types in Ayurveda has been considered a classic for many years. This very readable work not only he explains all the basic concepts in details, but it does it with flair, grace and a touch of lightness. His talent as a storyteller, which are considerable, enables the reader to grasp connections and relationships between concepts which would otherwise be opaque. I have read and re-read this book many times and I always learn something new.
For the healer, the nurse, the mother
Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing: A Practical Guide is a succinct, wonderfully illustraded practical opus-guide to discovering all aspects of Ayurveda in a clear, concise format. Dr Vasant Lad has been a pioneer in bringing Ayurveda to the West, and reading this book explains why: only someone with complete grasp of the material could be able to explain it so simply. He also includes an extremely practical list of home remedies to common ailments that anyone that takes care of others (and themselves) can use to great effect.
For the cook, the foodie
Amadea Morningstar’s The Ayurvedic Cookbook is a excellent introduction into Ayurvedic nutritional theory. She covers a wide range of cooking styles and discusses the concept of food as a medecine in a friendly, often humorous tone. The recipes are often simple and many are quite delicious! If you are not generally a fan of Indian cuisine, her other book Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners: Familiar Western Food Prepared with Ayurvedic Principles might be more to your liking. One way or another she has a real talent for passing on her passion about health, food and Ayurveda.
For the budding herbalist
The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine from very prolific author David Frawley offers a treatise on herbs that is an excellent resource for anyone looking to understand herbs and their effects. It is chock full of information and explanation about how the traditional system of Ayurvedic healing uses botanicals. It includes herb descriptions, names in English, Latin, Sanskrit and Chinese were needed and clear instructions on how to use the herbals according to your constitution. A must for any Ayurvedic library.
For the women’s health advocate
Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Achieving Optimal Health and Wellness through Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, and Western Science Dr Claudia Welch’s first full-lenght book is a thought-provoking look into the ways women’s bodies are driven, and, often, run into the ground…Readers will find a wealth of information on the sex (yin) and stress (yang) hormones, advice on how to address specific health issues, and ideas for stress management, healthy diet options (including recipes), and lifestyle changes. Dr Welch’s depth of understanding and rigorous research has produced a book that is, in my view, the definitive work on women’s health from an Ayurvedic perspective.
Have you read any of these book? Would you add another to the list?
Suleyka Montpetit is the managing editor or Everyday Ayurveda.She has studied Yoga, Communications and Spiritual Paths for over 15 years and has been a Mover and a Shaker, writing, editing and website building.
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