Q&A With Ayurveda Practitioner: Dr Mathew
Dr Mathews is Specialized in Chronic Health conditions, diet and lifestyle planning to support recovery and ayurvedic medicinal plants. More than a decade's experience in the Ayurvedic Therapy and Wellness industry. Currently, working on developing a holistic 'vedic lifestyle' format for natural wellness and preventive healthcare based on the principles of the Ashtanga Hrudya and Ayurvedic traditions of Kerala.
Dr. Mathew How is Ayurveda relevant in this current era?
In Ayurveda, health is deﬁned as the state where the physical body, senses, and psyche are in equilibrium. Even though genetic makeup is an important aspect of one’s physical and functional attributes, it fails to explain or help us manage many chronic lifestyle issues. It is currently understood that the expression of genes largely depends on environmental factors. Consistent with this belief, Ayurveda emphasizes the role of environmental factors, daily routine, seasonal changes, lifestyle, diet, regular exercise, and Herbs in maintaining balance and health. It also emphasizes that all factors related to body and mind must be in balance to avoid illness and consider a person is in good health, not just a few. So, if all your test reports are fine and still you don’t feel in yourself well and balanced, it’s not proper health!
What inspired you to the practice of Ayurveda and how did you discover it?
I was born and brought up in a family with traditional Ayurvedic roots in a place called Alleppey in Kerala, South India. My grandfather's younger brother was a traditional Ayurvedic eye doctor, known as “salakya tantra” in the Sanskrit language in Kerala. He tried to teach someone interested in the next generation, but unfortunately, none were. So, no one was actively practicing Ayurveda for a while in our family. After finishing school, when I had the opportunity to decide what to study further, I chose to be an instrumentation engineer! Long story short, three months into learning complex mathematics and welding kinds of stuff, I got a letter from the university entrance commission in Kerala, saying that since I had studied the Sanskrit language in school (which is an advantage if you decide to learn Ayurveda), I could switch my course to Ayurveda if I wished to. So, in 2003, I joined the Bachelor of Ayurvedic medicine and surgery course, at the University of Calicut in Kerala which is where my 16 year-long journeys with Ayurveda started.
What is the typical day in the life of an Ayurvedic doctor?
Ayurveda is a lifestyle and most of the recommendations an Ayurvedic doctor makes are for supporting the body to heal better and faster naturally. I follow a dosha or body-type based routine that helps me in healing and supporting my body better. I start my day early by about 04.30 am with a glass of warm ginger water followed by 30 minutes of simple yogic stretches. After routine ablutions and a healthy breakfast, the workday starts. I start my practice in Brighton morning at 8 am. But nowadays working from home has given me more opportunity to do daily pranayama breathing practices along with the morning yoga. After appointments, I’ll dedicate some time for replying to emails and correspondences, writing articles and contents on Ayurveda, etc. Usually, I take a walk for again 30-40 minutes to pick my son from his nursery, mid-day after lunch as the day is mostly spent sitting and talking to patients. There would be also regular training sessions and talks I conduct for colleagues and customers. Evening time is dedicated to family and my 3year old son. We play some football or just run around in the garden or nearby park before the evening meal. After he is put to bed It’s time for me to do some gentle reading before hitting the bed myself at around 09.30-10 pm.
How do you apply Ayurveda in your life?
We are fortunate to have access to ayurvedic herbs and an elaborate spice rack in our kitchen. Whenever anyone falls ill, we rarely had to go beyond what we have already got in our hands like ginger or turmeric or ghee, and the effect most of the time is as quick or sometimes quicker than the standard pills. Once recovered, our immunity also gains naturally the ability to fight effectively any further attacks. Ayurveda slowly ceased to be a job that I was trained in and became instead a way of living that I've enjoyed thoroughly for about two decades and that was ingrained into me by nature.
Describe one thing you find fulfilling about working in the field of Ayurveda.
The best thing I enjoyed about being an ayurvedic doctor is the places and people that it has taken me to. I was fortunate to be working in the pristine land on the banks of the Ganges river at the Ananda in the Himalayas for about 5 years and in England since 2016. Working at Ananda has allowed me to travel to various parts of India, Russia, the Middle East, the USA, Germany, France, etc. Also seeing that people when given proper guidance initiate a proactive role in taking care of their health rather than looking for someone else to fix It for them is a joyful experience.
What are the most important lessons you learned from this career?
The most important lesson Ayurveda has taught me is that never put a name on an illness unless you have a remedy for it. Naming a disease is unfortunately more for the benefit of the practitioner than the patient.
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