There’s a common misunderstanding of what Ayurveda actually is. Some think of it as being somehow related to Yoga; some think of it as an alternative medicine; some others think it’s an Indian style of massage; some think home remedies. I have also seen a few people think of it as a “pathy” to resort to when one suffers from a terminal illness that modern medicine just can’t cure (not always with the hope that Ayurveda will cure it, but often with the despair that there isn’t anything left to do). For a long time, when I thought of Ayurveda, I used to think of strict dietary restrictions, and bitter and pungent medications, usually in the form of decoctions rather than pills.
But Ayurveda is not all that. And for someone who has no formal knowledge about Ayurveda, the book Essential Ayurveda by Shubhra Krishan is an amazing introduction. In an easy-to-read narrative, and with ample stories and self-experiences, the author connects us to the fundamentals of what Ayurveda is, and how it can help us. No spoilers here; Go read for it yourself :-)
I’ll leave you with Ayurveda’s own definition of Ayurveda:
हिताहितं सुखं दुःखमायुस्तस्य हिताहितम् ।
मानं च तच्च यत्रोक्तमायुर्वेदः स उच्यते ।।
Charak Samhita Sutra-Sthan 1.41
Ayurveda is the science that deals with good, bad, happy and unhappy life, the nature and measurement of life and the factors that promote life or are detrimental to life.