Ayurveda is India’s ancient science life, health, and longevity. It’s considered by many scholars to be the oldest type of healthcare in the world. It originated in India over 5000 years ago, and has been taught for thousands of years in an oral tradition from accomplished masters to their disciples. The purpose of Ayurveda is to heal, to maintain a high quality of life, and to improve the longevity of the person.
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It’s an art of daily living that has evolved from practical, philosophical, and religious insight. Despite the fact that they’ve been employed for thousands of years, Ayurvedic principles have never changed, since they derive from universal laws of nature that are eternally correct. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means the “Science of Life.” Life is the integration of body, mind and consciousness.
Ayurveda is a science of self-understanding. By understanding our own special character or constitution we can start to understand how we interact with our environment and so make decisions that will lead us toward better health. Ayurveda defines disease as the natural result of living out of harmony with our constitution. Therefore, the Ayurvedic approach is extremely individualized, because the path to optimum health differs for each individual, depending upon their distinctive constitution or prakruti.
The Ayurvedic system
It thinks that the person’s constitution (prakruti) is listed at the time of conception as a genetic code which may be expressed physically and emotionally as disease proneness and psychological reaction. This constitution is dependent on vata, pitta and kapha, which are the 3 chief doshas, or psycho-physiological functional principles in Ayurveda. They regulate the individual’s reaction to changes and they promote the disease process when out of balance.
Many factors, both external and internal, can disturb this balance and cause changes in the constitution which may lead to ailments and disease. Some of the factors include psychological and physical pressures, improper voedsel combinations and options, physical injury, or seasonal and weather changes. Once we understand how these variables influence us on a constitutional level, we can take appropriate actions to nullify or minimize their effects and remove the source of imbalance.
The intent is to understand the nature and structure of disease, so we can re-establish order to get control over our health and wellbeing. The science of understanding our constitution is the science of tridosha. Tridosha defines the three basic doshas or principles that regulate the use of our bodies on the physical, psychological, and psychological levels. Each individual has a special balance of all three of those energies. These principles can be related to the fundamental biology of the human body.
Energy is required to make motion so that fluids and nutrients reach the cells, allowing the body to work. Energy is also essential to metabolize the nutrients in the cells and can be used to purge and maintain cellular structure. Vata is the energy of motion; pitta is the energy of digestion, transformation or metabolism; and kapha is the energy of structure and lubrication. Everyone has the qualities of vata, pitta and kapha, but one is usually primary or overriding, one is secondary and the third is generally the least predominant.
- Vata is the subtle energy associated with motion. It modulates respiration, circulation, and elimination, in addition to the pulsation of the heart and motor neuron impulses. Vata is very similar to the end –it’s light, cool, dry and mobile. People who have a vata nature experience more of those qualities. Their bodies have a tendency to be mild, their bones thin, and their hair and skin dry. They frequently move and talk quickly. They are inclined to be talkative, enthusiastic, creative, flexible, and energetic. When aggravated, vata may lead to confusion, insomnia, flatulence, constipation, weight loss, tremors, spasms, astma, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, in addition to many neurological and immunological issues.
- Pitta represents the fire element in the body. It governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, and body temperature. Pitta tends to be sharp, hot, and penetrating. Additionally it is somewhat volatile and fatty. People who have a pitta nature reflect those qualities. They tend to feel hot, have somewhat oily skin, penetrating eyes, and sharp features. They generally have moderate weight and great musculature. They tend to be highly focused, aggressive, competent, courageous, lively, and clear communicators who get right to the point. They can nevertheless become overly intense and talk with a sharp tongue. Pitta disorders include diarrhea, infections, hyperacidity, ulcers, skin eruptions, chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease, colitis, liver, spleen, and blood disorders, in addition to numerous inflammatory issues.
- Kapha is the energy that forms the body’s structure and provides the cohesion that holds the cells together. Kapha provides the water for most bodily components and systems. It lubricates joints, moisturizes skin, and maintains immunity. Kapha will be cool, moist, secure, and heavy. In the body these qualities manifest too dense, heavy bones; lustrous, supple skin; low metabolism and big, stocky frames. Additionally, those who have a kapha nature tend to feel trendy. The heavy, steady nature of kapha reflects in a stable character, not prone to rapid fluctuations. When out of balance, kapha people are prone to gaining weight and have a tendency to accumulate mucous. Kapha can also lead to obesity, higher cholesterol, diabetes, depression, edema, asthma, tumors, and many different congestive issues.
Ayurveda also says that like increases like. For instance, the summer has characteristics like those of pitta –hot, liquid, light, mobile, and penetrating. Therefore, in the summer pitta in the body has been raised. Vata is mild, subtle, dry, portable, coarse, and cold. So in the autumn, which also exhibits these characteristics, vata will have a tendency to be increased within the body. Kapha is liquid, heavy, cold, sticky, and muddy. In the winter, when these characteristics predominate in the external environment, internal kapha has been raised. The constitution of an individual is a dynamic force, and vata, pitta, and kapha are dynamic energies that will change and be influenced by the environment and other aspects in a variety of ways.
An Ayurvedic regime and lifestyle, together with dinacharya patterns, will allow the individual to gain more awareness and control over how those factors may be diminished or nullified, in order to improve and maintain optimum health and wellbeing. From the time of birth until death, the body is engaged in preserving life. Vata, pitta and kapha play an significant role in the maintenance of cellular health and longevity. Kapha maintains longevity on the cellular level. Pitta governs digestion and nutrition. Vata, which is closely linked to the life energy (or prana), governs all life functions. Ayurveda offers different treatments that may support the person’s inherent stability at all levels, while promoting cellular rejuvenation and total vitality and immunity. The key to optimum health is to help the body remove toxins and revive the constitutional balance of the doshas. For this purpose, Ayurveda provides diet and lifestyle guidelines, herbal preparations, and cleansing and rejuvenating applications like panchakarma and vata management remedies.