After trying every allopathic and natural therapy she could find to heal her hormonal and obesity health conditions, Dr Manjiri Nadkarni finally found a cure in Ayurveda and turned the practice that healed her into a career and way of life. She is dedicated to educating her Western clients about the benefits and application of Ayurveda and she believes that living according to Ayurveda can help us gain optimal physical, mental and emotional health and also bring joy to our lives. In conversation with the Center for Ayurveda studies.
Sophia: You found Ayurveda when you were struggling with health issues and then pursued Ayurveda as a career. Tell us about your journey?
Dr Nadkarni: My journey is that of what we could call ‘the universe helping you find your life path.’ I went through years of hormonal issues and obesity before I found Ayurveda. In my quest for health, I had seen various modern doctors in Mumbai, hormone specialists, gynaecologists, dieticians, probably every modern allopathic practitioner that was recommended to me that offered a solution. But nothing really worked. I kept gaining weight and feeling more miserable until someone suggested I see an Ayurvedic doctor.
Dr. Niyati traced the root cause of my health issues to my daily breakfast which consisted of milk and bananas which are Ayurvedically a wrong food combination. She empowered me with knowledge about my Kapha dominant body constitution and how the very food I was eating everyday was working against me. After working with her for a few months, I lost 28 kgs, my hormonal issues resolved, my skin healed and I regained my energy. That was the time I decided to make Ayurveda my mission, so I could help people like me who struggled to find answers through mainstream modern medicine. I can help them find healing through Ayurveda.
Sophia: What is it like to be an Ayurveda practitioner and doctor in the West which relies so much on allopathy?
Dr Nadkarni: Being an Ayurvedic doctor and practitioner in the West is both encouraging as well as frustrating. It is encouraging because Ayurveda has helped so many people improve and regain their health when mainstream medicine hasn’t been able to provide a solution. I started practising in a small city called Sarnia 10 years ago, where Ayurveda was completely unknown. My practice grew through ‘word of mouth,’ where people recommended me on the basis of the relief they found through Ayurveda and now they are the biggest advocates of Ayurveda. My frustration is that Ayurveda is the last option and not the first due to the lack of awareness in the West. Also there are a lot of limitations to an Ayurvedic practice in the West because of Ayurveda being non-regulated, lack of availability of Ayurvedic herbs and formulations, etc.
Sophia: What do you think are some of the biggest health and lifestyle issues of a modern life that Ayurveda can help with?
Dr Nadkarni: I believe that Ayurveda is the one-stop solution for all the issues that we face in today’s modern life. Whether we talk about stress or the various common conditions that are a part of today's fast paced modern life like diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, various inflammatory conditions like arthritis, mental health disorders like depression, anxiety… Ayurveda has solutions for all.
Ayurveda focuses on both curative as well as the preventative aspects of health, this is especially important for people who have a family history or genetic predisposition to various diseases or conditions. Ayurveda helps you to correct the course of the disease and helps you correct the course of your life, so once you align your life with Ayurvedic principles, you experience physical, mental and emotional health and you also experience a joyous fulfilling life.
Sophia: What are the benefits of an Ayurvedic diet?
Dr Nadkarini: According to Ayurveda, diet is considered to be the first of the three pillars of health and hence, our diet should always be the first priority whether you are looking to maintain health or recover from diseases. Ayurveda recognises that each person is unique and may have different dietary needs based on their constitution (Prakriti), imbalances (Vikriti), life stage, activity levels, environment as well as the digestive capacity. Thus an Ayurvedic diet is highly personalised for each individual unlike modern nutrition.
The benefits of an Ayurvedic diet are that it promotes digestive health as Ayurveda considers strong digestion as the cornerstone of health; promotes optimal nourishment of all body tissues as well as the mind thereby building strength and stamina, maintains proper body weight, lowers inflammation, boosts immunity, calms and satiates the mind, promotes clarity and focus.
Sophia: Tell us about vedic philosophy and how that has affected your personal life and your Ayurvedic practice?
Dr Nadkarni: One of the main concepts that has had a huge influence on my life from the Vedic philosophy is the concept of karma. I believe that you’re born to play out the consequences of past life karma and at the same time you’re accumulating new karma with every conscious or subconscious action that you perform. So for every individual it is important to take accountability for our actions and make sure all our actions are not just for our own good, but also good for society, good for your country and good for humanity.
Sophia: Who are your spiritual mentors?
Dr Nadkarni: I have always shared a deep connection with Lord Ganesha who has always been the guiding force in my life. My parents, especially my mom, was the one who introduced me to sacred chants like Ganpati Atharvashirsha and the Sri Suktam and continues to guide me from the heaven above.
Sophia: What are some of your favourite books on spirituality?
Dr Nadkarni: There are so many
- Charaka Samhita - My favourite verse from Charaka Samhita is about Daiva (Fate) and Purushkara (Human Effort). It says ‘A weak daiva gets subdued by a strong purushakara. Similarly a strong daiva overshadows one’s purushakara’ So always focus on your efforts, what you can do and achieve rather than blame fate.
- Aghora series by Dr. Robert Svoboda
- Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
- Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- The Untethered Soul by Micheal A. Singer
- Firestarter Sessions and The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte
Sophia: What advice would you give to people who want to pursue Ayurveda as a career?
Dr Nadkarni: There is a verse in Charak Samhita that ‘Chikitsa is never fruitless’ and that can be applied to the Ayurvedic profession as well. Ayurveda is the profession that helps you earn Dharma (duty), Maitri (friendships), Artha (financial independence) as well as Yash (goodwill and/or fame). Thus studying and practising Ayurveda will always yield the sweetest fruit and never be fruitless. It is one of the most fulfilling careers you can opt for.
For further information visit https://manjirinadkarni.com/