Getting Clear on What Health Actually Is Can Help You Clarify Next Steps (by Prita Chanda Klco)

I went to the doctor recently for a routine check-up. I was asked to give a “medical reason” (a disease or a problem) for making the appointment. In a system where disease is more billable than health, it’s easy to spend most of our time and attention focused on symptoms and dysfunction. Much of our so-called “health care” is actually focused on treating disease. But if we’re focused on disease, how can we find health? We might feel lost, but if we don’t know our destination or direction, how can we know what corrections to make?

The World Health Organization defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Noteworthy in this definition is the notion that health does not develop in isolation. Health implies harmony.

Ayurveda, the world’s oldest healing and medical system, gives an even more specific definition:

“When bodily functions, appetite, digestion, absorption, elimination of wastes and generation of body tissues are balanced; when the senses and mind are sharp and clear, and there is a pleasant feeling of well-being in body, mind, and innermost Self…this is the experience of a healthy person.” – Sushruta Samhita

I find this definition to be both illuminating and practically helpful. It allows me to assess my state at many levels and see where I need to give special attention. I also appreciate that an important indicator of health is not merely the absence of symptoms, but a deep feeling of well-being. The word used in the source text to describe this is prasanna, which has multiple meanings, including: “pleasant, bright, lucid or clear, soothed and serene.”

Ayurveda recognizes health as a dynamic process, like skiing or riding a bicycle. The terrain is constantly changing; yet the power to cultivate well-being in the way we respond remains squarely within our influence. The most powerful tool we have for cultivating health is choice. The choices we make every day determine the inputs that make or break our potential for health over time.

Both Ayurveda and Yoga also propose that clarity, peace, and harmony are our natural states of being. From this perspective, health is something we possess as an innate baseline potential. It is something we can return to through systematic self-study and Self-discovery.

When we’re suffering from imbalance, it may be hard to look past what is happening to reconnect with health. As a Yoga Therapist and Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor, I serve as an advisor and accountability partner in helping you walk your unique path to health. If you’d like to learn more about how we might work together, visit my website at