Sophia Papadopoulou, born in Thessaloniki, studied Chemistry at the “Aristotle University of Thessaloniki”. Since 1995 she represents the company “Himalaya” in Greece and in 2005 she founded the “Greek Institute of Ayurveda” (EL.E.M.E.A.). She is one of the most famous Ayurveda experts in Greece.
Ms. Papadopoulou, the cradle of our Western medicine is in Greece. What connects Ayurveda with the health teachings of antiquity?
Ayurveda has much in common with all ancient medical systems and of course with the ancient Hippocratic medicine. I very often refer to Hippocratic sayings that express the most important Ayurvedic principles. For example, to the main maxim of Hippocrates: “Our body can heal itself. Of great importance are the factors of diet, exercise, environment, the way of living and thinking.”
You say Ayurveda is your “entertainment” – why?
So, it entertains me because Ayurveda takes care of my salvation, so to speak, and helps me – just as the ancient Greeks said: to recognize who I am, in which context I move and which life goals I have. Ayurveda keeps me constantly busy.
What brought you to Ayurveda?
After graduating in chemistry from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, I immediately got a job at the State Chemical Laboratory, a large chemical laboratory. But my work did not meet my expectations, I was disappointed. I felt “locked” into the narrow confines of the public service. So I quickly looked for new, creative, intellectual fields of activity – and quit.
I had been involved with yoga for some time, especially during my stays in India. There, apparently by chance – although it was probably more of a “karmic moment” – I came into contact with “Himalaya”, the manufacturer of Ayurvedic products. I had already heard about the company from my family, in which there are many doctors. And we soon signed an exclusive contract for a representation of the company in Greece. The longer I studied Ayurveda, which is the philosophical and scientific background of the company “Himalaya” and its products, the more my interest in the healing science grew.
What does the science of Ayurveda mean to you in the meantime?
For me it includes the whole “way of life”, as it already comes from the etymology of the word Ayurveda from the words “Ayus” (health, life) and “Veda” (knowledge). Ayurveda helps me to make better decisions. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes since then, but at least I am always aware of them. So I can work on myself. By the way, have you heard about the journey to Ithaca? The famous poem describes the value of travel, of change, very well – and begins like this: “If you set out for Ithaca, wish yourself a long journey.”
What role does Ayurveda play in Greece at all?
In the past decade, the science of Ayurveda has taken on an increasingly important role in Greece. And we try to contribute a lot to it – both with EL.E.M.E.A., the “Greek Institute of Ayurveda” and with our company Ayurveda Hellas S.A. We inform Greek citizens in seminars, through articles we write, on TV and on the radio.
Ayurveda has also become an alternative to conventional medicine in Greece. Mainly, Ayurveda is used to assist in acute diseases. In some areas there is a lack of developed classical medical infrastructure – especially here Ayurveda can play an important role.
Has it become more difficult in these economically hard times – especially in Greece?
It’s easier in a way. In periods of crisis, we tend to be more self-critical and generally critical. People are more open to alternatives. This is – according to the Ayurvedic system – the first step to discover and understand oneself. In my opinion, the key to perfect health. Only in this way can we make wise decisions and replenish the energy store.
What all do you offer?
Our offer includes the whole “way of life”. We not only sell products that belong to Ayurveda, but also organize – or participate in – many events on the subject and alternative, holistic medicine in general.
We have established centers for the basic Ayurvedic techniques (from Panchakarma, Shirodhara, Nasyam to massages) and are in contact with doctors and institutes in India and other countries where Ayurveda is a complete medical system.