What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a proven ancient holistic herbomineral system of medicines of India. Its aim is to provide guidance regarding food and lifestyle so that healthy people can stay healthy and folks with health challenges can improve their health.
Everything in Ayurveda is validated by observation, inquiry, direct examination and knowledge derived from the ancient texts.
It understands that there are energetic forces that influence nature and human beings. These forces are called the Tridoshas. Because Ayurveda sees a strong connection between the mind and the body, a huge amount of information is available regarding this relationship.
Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words: Ayu which means life and Veda which means the knowledge of. To know about life is Ayurveda. According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, "ayu" is comprised of four essential parts. The combination of mind, body, senses and the soul.
Ayurveda is an intricate system of healing that originated in India thousands of years ago. We can find historical evidence of Ayurveda in the ancient books of wisdom known as the Vedas. The Rig Veda was written over 6,000 years ago, but really Ayurveda has been around even longer than that. What we see is that Ayurveda is more than just a medical system. It is a Science of Life. We are all part and parcel of nature. Just as the animals and plants live in harmony with nature and utilize the Laws of Nature to create health and balance within their beings, we, too, adhere to these very same principles. Therefore, it is fair to say that Ayurveda is a system that helps maintain health in a person by using the inherent principles of nature to bring the individual back into equilibrium with their true self. In essence Ayurveda has been in existence since the beginning of time because we have always been governed by nature's laws.
Ayurveda gives us a model to look at each individual as a unique make up of the three doshas and to thereby design treatment protocols that specifically address a persons health challenges. When any of the doshas ( Vata, Pitta or Kapha ) become accumulated, Ayurveda will suggest specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in reducing the dosha (problem) that has become excessive.
Ayurveda also sees that before we exist in physical form with the help of the mind and senses that we exist in a more subtle form known as the soul.
Principles of Ayurveda
Now that we have a better understanding of what comprises life, let's look at some of the principles of Ayurveda and how they might affect us.
In Ayurveda we view a person as a unique individual made up of five primary elements. The elements are ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth. Just as in nature, we too have these five elements in us. When any of these elements are present in the environment, they will in turn have an influence on us. The foods we eat and the weather are just two examples of the presence of these elements. While we are a composite of these five primary elements, certain elements are seen to have an ability to combine to create various physiological functions. Ether and air combine to form what is known in Ayurveda as the Vata dosha. Vata governs the principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination. Fire and water are the elements that combine to form the Pitta dosha. The Pitta dosha is the process of transformation or metabolism. The transformation of foods into nutrients that our bodies can assimilate is an example of a pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism. Finally, it is predominantly the water and earth elements which combine to form the Kapha dosha. Kapha is what is responsible for growth, adding structure unit by unit. Another function of the Kapha dosha is to offer protection. Cerebral-spinal fluid protects the brain and spinal column and is a type of Kapha found in the body. Also, the mucousal lining of the stomach is another example of the Kapha dosha protecting the tissues. We are all made up of unique proportions of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These ratios of the doshas vary in each individual; and because of this, Ayurveda sees each person as a special mixture that accounts for our diversity.
Ayurveda gives us a model to look at each individual as a unique makeup of the three doshas and to thereby design treatment protocols that specifically address a persons health challenges. When any of the doshas ( Vata, Pitta or Kapha ) become accumulated, Ayurveda will suggest specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in reducing the dosha that has become excessive. We may also suggest certain herbal supplements to hasten the healing process. If toxins in the body are abundant, then a cleansing process known as Pancha Karma is recommended to eliminate these unwanted toxins.