Ayurveda is a system of knowledge which has been passed from generation to generation for more than 5000 years. The word 'Ayu' means 'life' and 'Veda' means 'science', so Ayurveda is the complete science of life. This ancient science firmly stresses the importance of common sense and the law of nature. When we comply with the natural rhythms of our environment our body begins to heal, therefore Ayurveda involves preventative daily exercises and routines rather than healing diseases.
Ayurvedic medicine cannot be applied to the masses
In order to understand Ayurveda one has to first know what life is. According to Ayurveda, life is a combination of all the senses, mind, body and soul. Each one of us is a unique being and this is why Ayurveda does not offer set healing methods but has techniques/routines which can be adapted to each individual. Recommendations on lifestyle, diet and herbs, bodywork, breathing techniques and spiritual practices will differ for each individual and cannot be applied to the masses.
Our body is composed of the same elements that are found in nature
According to Ayurveda, there are 5 elements, which can be found throughout the universe as well as in the human body. In Ayurveda, these elements are combined to create three doshas; Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The three together are known as 'three-dosha'. When all three doshas are completely balanced our body is healthy and we radiate peace and love. More importantly, this means that we are able to feel great at all levels of our life: there is a great sense of well-being, emotional stability, optimal mental functioning, heightened functioning of all senses, abundant mental and physical energy, easy digestion, normal elimination of waste and healthy body tissues, organs and systems.
The flow of energy in our body is constantly changing
Doshas govern our entire physical structure and function. As the law of nature foresees constant change, so does the flow of energy throughout our body and this influences the balance of our doshas. Doshas either increase or decrease according to what is happening within and around us daily and at the same time, both natural and unnatural changes occur within each of the doshas. Natural imbalances occur as a consequence of ageing, causing each dosha to increase during certain periods of our lifetime as well as throughout the different seasons and times of the day. Unnatural imbalances are caused by an unsuitable diet or lifestyle, as well as by trauma, stress, or viruses. Although some of these factors are not completely under our control, we can at least learn to manage our lifestyle and diet.
Understanding the three doshas
Vata is made up of air and ether and represents kinetic energy. It is light, cool, dry and mobile. In our body, it governs everything that has to do with motion (breathing, talking, circulation, waste elimination and the nervous system). It is located in the colon, thighs, bones, joints, ears, skin, brain and nerve tissues. Vata can quickly fall out of balance if there is a lack of sleep, excessive physical activity or long periods of fasting.
Pitta is made up of fire and represents thermal energy. It is responsible for biotransformation, the complete nutritional system, as well as for hormones and enzymes. In our body, it is located in the small intestine, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, blood, eyes and sweat. This dosha gets aggravated when it is overworked or when it is exposed to heat, the sun, stimulants or fasting.
Kapha is composed of earth and water and represents potential energy. It is seen as the glue and lubrication of the body and has heavy, thick and static qualities. It governs bodily fluids and the skeletal system of the body. It is located in the chest, throat, lungs, head, lymph nodes, fatty and connective tissues, ligaments and tendons. It will certainly get stimulated through overeating, excessive sleep, a lack of mental activity, eating too much sugar or living in damp or cool conditions.
The key to health is understanding and accepting yourself
By understanding your constitutional type (doshas) and paying attention to any changes that constantly occur within your doshas, you can avoid disease and maintain good health. You will be able to work towards a balance, despite everything constantly changing within and around you. However, this can only happen once you understand the simplicity of how your body, mind and soul interconnect and when you understand the principles and simplicity of the Ayurvedic system. You will realise that instead of trying to heal any symptoms, you will be able to identify and remove the root cause of any problem. As soon as you decide to take a step towards a positive holistic change, Ayurveda will make a huge difference to your life. What are you waiting for? Take your first step today!