A Movement Towards True Ayurveda and Healing
Feminine form Ayurveda is the true Ayurveda of ancient India. You might wonder—what does it mean for something to be the true Ayurveda? There are two answers to that question.
The first is that before India came under British rule, Ayurveda flourished not only as a system of medicine, but as a spiritual practice. Healing was known to be a spiritual affair, medicine and spirit were one. The influence of the West in India changed India’s approach to medicine. The wisdom of Ayurveda was all but lost under British rule. For Ayurveda to have legitimacy as a healing system, it needed to conform to allopathic (Western) medicine’s approach. Thus, it was stripped of its spiritual and feminine roots.
Second, it was the women of India who continued to practice the Ayurveda of pre-colonial times. There are two reasons for this: i) woman had always been the communities’ healers, both in the West and in the East. Their knowledge was passed down orally; and ii) In the age of modernization and patriarchy, women were excluded from the healing arts, medicine became institutionalized and one had to study for many years in order to “practice medicine”. This excluded woman who were mostly kept out of higher education and the sciences.
In the West, the eradication of feminine form healing arts was exhaustive due to the millions of women killed during the witch hunts that cycled through Europe and the Americas. We have of our Indian sisters to thank for keeping the flame of feminine form medicine lit for us.
That is why I refer to feminine form Ayurveda, and why my students have now come to call it Divine Feminine Ayurveda. It’s an approach to health that is radically different from the “traditional medicine” that we are familiar with in the West. It even differs from what Indians of the last few hundred years have known due to the Westernization of Ayurveda in India.
Begin Now: Divine Feminine Ayurveda
1. Intentionally cultivate and expand your community. The human Ātman, soul, desperately wants to be seen. Not necessarily fixed or saved, but simply witnessed and loved unconditionally. Organize a potluck and extend the invitation to your outer circle of acquaintances, plan a community activism meeting and get in the habit of regularly volunteering your time to a nonprofit. Feminine medicine comes through the oral tradition, through community, and through relationships. It’s not entirely taught and learned through a textbook, it’s learned through direct experience and relationship.
2. Honor your desires—spring is when we are intuitively most attuned to our deepest driving desires. We learn Divine Feminine Ayurveda not through the pre-frontal cortex alone, but through the back of the brain and body as well. This is foundational because it means that we first heal ourselves and learn the healing arts through our own practice of self-love and self-healing. It means digesting the material IN and WITH the body, not just the intellect.
There exist a culturally imposed need to be very masculine about our approach to health: What pills, what herbs, what’s wrong with me? With a feminine approach to health, we’re not adding anything, instead we are subtracting what isn’t real anymore, what’s not serving us. Divine Feminine Ayurveda ask us to find the place within our being that is already balanced, that needs nothing else, and begin the process of healing from there first.
A practice to connect with your subconscious self:
For 40 days, first thing every morning, write down your dreams. The more you practice this the more you will remember from your dreams. Our beloved Ayurveda father, Dr. Vasant Lad, explains in our Shakti Ayurveda School textbook: "Dreams are a discharge of the nerve cells, the drainage of incomplete thoughts, actions, and feelings. In a dream, you finish unfinished business and the brain is able to restore order”.
According to Ayurveda, dreams are classified as vata, pitta, kapha. Vata dreams are very active, includes: flying, death, autumn and are sometimes fearful; pitta dreams are fiery, includes: feeling of having arrived too late, being embarrassed, problem solving, summer; and kapha dreams are often romantic, includes: doing something slowly, eating, spring or winter. Dr. Lad says “Classify the dreams, then treat the dosha and you will have good results”.⠀
Many times, studying our dreams gives us a window into the subconscious—our deepest anxieties and dreams.
3. Adaptability as health. The adaptability of our nervous and immune system is directly linked to the strength of our Ojas, the subtle energetic honey of our body. Think of Ojas as your psychophysical container or shield. When Ojas is strong, we have abundant energy, strong immunity and can adapt to the ever-changing circumstances of life with ease.
My go-to super ojas building plant is Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus). It’s a staple in my kitchen and I always recommend a student on the path of Ayurveda befriend this unctuous plant. Shatavari builds the tissues and fluids of the body. It’s a nutritive tonic, powerful adaptogen and a wonderful demulcent for vata-type bodies that struggle to retain water. It’s especially recommended for regulating and rejuvenating the female reproductive system. To stay hydrated, strong and lubricated, use Shatavari to make a tea. Let it steep as long as you like (a whole day even!) and then sip it warm, little by little, throughout the day.
Divine Feminine Ayurveda understands that there is no ideal health. That the mind/body complex is never in perfect balance, but always in flux. When we study Shakti, Life Force, we see that she is always shifting and changing. For that reason, she is not reaching for a standard of perfection, but instead concentrating on her own resources of adaptability. Feminine form medicine understands health as your ability to adapt to the changing environment and circumstances of your life. Divine Feminine Ayurveda is subtle.
The Laws of Nature
Divine Feminine Ayurveda is the ancient wisdom of the body and the cosmos. It reminds us of what we have forgotten--it asks us to remember, Smarana, our ancient knowing. Divine Feminine Ayurveda is deeply connected to nature. It awakens the deep knowing: You Are Nature. You are Already Connected to Nature.
Our society has confused scientific opinions, social media, and advertising, with the limitless knowledge that lives in our hearts. Instead, feminine form medicine asks us to trust ourselves and our bodies. It’s a practice of radical trust, creativity and insight in ourselves: radical self-sovereignty. It asks us to claim our power, our experience and our understanding of our bodies.
Divine Feminine Ayurveda asks us to trust in OWN bodies, as our bodies contain the intelligence of the cosmos, the intelligence of nature. Nothing external can help us if we are not in conscious communion with our body. It posits that we can find balance through our OWN resources.
Divine Feminine Ayurveda bows to nature as the eternal feminine, the most creative and nourishing channel of this world. It is not static or idealistic. It has no preconceived notions of what our body should look like or our minds should be like. It is not authoritarian structures, it is not statistical averages and standards. It is fluid and adaptable.
With this self-sovereignty and trust in nature, feminine form medicine stresses the importance of asking—What do I need now?
It’s a meditation on self-love as the very first step in healing. It’s a mentorship with Self. We are in a moment of revitalization of the feminine. We are remembering Her and finding the courage to live from the heart. We are awakening the Divine Feminine Ayurveda.
 “Chapter Five Dhātus.” Textbook of Ayurveda, by Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Press, 2002, pp. 161–162.
A version of this article appeared on Banyan Botanicals blog on June 20, 2018.