Updated: Jun 18, 2019
Ayurveda means “The Science of Life” and is the oldest continually practiced holistic system of healthcare in the world. It recognizes that everything is connected and interdependent and also recognizes that the body, mind and spirit work as a whole.
We are a part of nature, not apart from her!
Whereas western allopathic medicine treats the symptoms, Ayurveda gets to the root cause of the problem and fixes that but even beyond that, it emphasizes prevention and self-care. Maintaining balance through constant self-care is the key to maintaining health and therefore avoiding disease.
Ayurveda is Yoga’s sister science. Yoga and Ayurveda both have the same goal of Self-realization. Yoga is the spiritual practices and Ayurveda is the health and self-care. They both work together and recognize that in order to reach this goal one must maintain the body and mind to achieve the end goal of life. They are also both experiential sciences - it is through experience that we learn about ourselves and our surroundings and become more self aware.
What makes Ayurveda so great is that it understands the uniqueness of each person and each thing. So medicine for one person may be poison for another. We hear so much talk about this fad diet or that cure all but it doesn’t work this way. There have been so many trends in the health world. (One day kombucha, the next day it’s chaga mushrooms. And if you drink it everyday, it will cure all your problems.) Well, health is not one size fits all and through Ayurveda we can gain a better understanding of this and a better understanding of what keeps us in balance and healthy.
Ayurveda works on the physical body, the mind, the subtle body and the spirit.
Treatments include: Diet/nutrition, lifestyle adjustments, herbal medicine, body therapies (marma point), psychology, spirituality (yoga), astrology, color, gem and aroma therapies, pancha karma (detoxification), rejuvenation and revitalization.
Everything and everyone is made up of the 5 elements in different proportions.
The 5 elements are: Ether (space), Air, Fire, Water, Earth
The 5 elements combine to make up the Doshas.
Each Dosha is a combination of two elements. The 3 doshas are:
Vata = Ether, Air = That which moves things (prana, nervous system)
Pitta = Fire, Water = That which digests things (digestion of food, thoughts, emotions)
Kapha = Water, Earth = That which holds things together (physical body, liquid)
Every person is made up of different proportions of the doshas. This combination is your Prakriti (or your original constitution), which is determined at conception. One or two doshas usually predominate.
Vrikriti is your current state. Since everything is always changing, we are rarely at our original state. We are in constant flux. The goal is to keep as close to your original constitution as possible. This is when you are in balance.
Qualities: Each Dosha has a set of qualities or attributes.
Vata: dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile
Pitta: oily, sharp, penetrating, hot, light, unpleasant in odor, mobile, liquid
Kapha: cold, wet, heavy, dull, sticky, soft, firm
***Important rule in Ayurveda: Like increases like and opposites cure.
If you know your constitution and your imbalance, you can begin to apply this simple rule… if you are trying to reduce Kapha which is cold, wet, heavy, dull…. Then you should stay away from cold, wet, heavy, dull foods such as cold leftovers or too much cheese, dairy or fried foods as a simple example. You would instead focus on warm, light, dry and rough foods.
Constitution can be revealed by looking at fixed attributes of your body (frame, weight, complexion), life long habits and disease tendencies. A reading of your pulse will determine your original constitution and your imbalance. For this you can see an Ayurvedic Consultant or Practitioner. You can also get an idea from taking an online constitution quiz.