Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word originating from Ayur = Life and Veda = Science. Simply put, Ayurveda is science of life. It has been around for nearly 5000 years and is now recognised globally for its holistic approach for preventing illnesses, prolonging life and maintaining vitality. Modern medicine has only recently started looking at these issues.
Modern medical system believes everybody has the same anatomy, physiology and disease process-Ayurveda believes everybody is different. It respects individuality.
Modern system looks for cure, Ayurveda looks for prevention.
Modern medical system treats mind and body as separate entities. Ayurveda has always believed “psyche” and “soma” are closely connected. Healthy body has healthy mind and vice versa. Health is achieved when one’s body, mind and soul are in harmony. Modern medical system often looks for and delivers quick fixes. Immediate symptomatic relief is the goal. Ayurveda, on the other hand, takes a systematic approach in getting rid of the underlying cause of ill health. Imbalance in life forces is seen as the cause of ill health. This approach can take longer but once achieved results last.
Ayurveda has so much to offer! The basic concepts, vocabulary and principles are very different to modern medicine. In order to understand Ayurveda it is important to become familiar with these concepts and notions. Join us for individual or group courses in Ayurveda at Ayuspa and be empowered.
Health is a state of harmony between our internal (physical psychological, spiritual) and external, social and micro/macro cosmos. Health is not only absence of disease. It is a positive state of enjoying life.
Ayurveda has a long tradition of being interested in longevity and wellbeing. Effects of our karma (our deeds), genetic factors and spirituality receive equal importance in the quest for health. Through harmony and healthy life style, Ayurveda teaches us to achieve wellbeing, and be free of envy, anger, resentment and ego problems. Sounds difficult- well it is not. Try it for yourself at Ayuspa and be amazed.
Imagine what a happy place our beautiful world would become if everyone followed Ayurvedic principles. We can at least make a start with ourselves and our immediate families. Here is how.
Ayurveda believes all living and non-living matters are made of five elements:
These elements combine with each other to produce life forces (called Doshas) which in turn govern our bodily functions.
Doshas are life forces that give us our unique physical, cognitive and emotional characteristics. They make us who we are, how we feel and how we function. Three types of Doshas are described in Ayurveda – Kapha, Pitta and Vata. Their names suggest their characteristics and origins. Vata is composed of Space and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water, and Kapha of Earth and Water. Thus, those of us with dominant Vata will be quick thinking, thin, and fast moving, Pitta dominant will be blessed with a fiery personality and oily skin whereas Kapha ones will have a solid body frame and a calm temperament. This is described later in “Our Constitution”. Take a free constitution analysis with AyuSpa and find our your unique type.
Doshas also change depending on what we eat, how we sleep, our stress level, our daily routine and so on. As Doshas change we change- the way we think, the way we feel, the way we respond to stress. They are truly dynamic in nature
Understanding the dynamic nature of Doshas and the effect they have on us helps us take charge of our health and wellbeing. Remember Ayurveda’s concept of health is not just the absence of disease but a state of harmony within and without.
Knowledge of how Doshas work empowers us to enjoy good health by making changes in our routine or dietary habits without having to lean on expensive and sometimes harmful medicines. Many of these changes may be small but their effects are profound.
We are born with a fixed proportion of the three Doshas. A set combination of Vata Pitta and Kapha gives us our constitution or Prakrity. Understanding our constitution helps us understand our vulnerability to develop particular Dosha imbalance. Knowing our unique constitution and what aggravates and pacifies Doshas helps us gain more control on our health. At AyuSpa you can learn to respond to these changes by making appropriate adjustments in your daily routines, diet and exercise regime.
Ayurveda divides flavours into six basic tastes or rasas. A properly balanced meal should satisfy all six taste. Diet must also be modified to suit our life forces. Balanced food helps us achieve harmony. No food is prohibited in Ayurveda. Key is just to find balance in what we eat and what we cook.
Ayurveda believes seven essential tissues make up human body- rasa (plasma), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscle), medas (fat), asthi (bone), majja (marrow and nerves), and shukra . (reproductive tissue). These tissues are more than what they appear because they are sites inflicted by Doshas to cause disease. Understanding this relationship helps us predict the symptoms that will manifest and develop remedies unique to the situation.
The food we eat forms Dhatus- the building blocks of our body. There is some merit in the old saying that we become what we eat. The efficient machine called human body, after metabolising what we have eaten, ensures waste products are eliminated. Waste products are called amas (i.e. toxins) in Ayurveda. Their accumulation leads to ill health and detoxification leads to restoration of health.
Waste products are eliminated through hair, nails, intestine, urine, sweat, ear wax and secretions from the eyes and genitals. This happens routinely without our conscious awareness. Disease sets in if elimination of Mala is hampered. Ayurveda has centuries of knowledge when it comes to detoxification and restoring health and vitality.
Believe it or not, by examining a person’s skin type it is possible to predict their taste preferences. This happens because Doshas are common factor to both our skin type and our taste preferences. Take some examples and try for yourself.
- Dry skin (Vata) prefers salty, sour and sweet – Read More
- Sensitive skin (Pitta) prefers bitter, sweet, astringent – Read More
- Oily skin (Kapha) prefers pungent, bitter, astringent – Read More
Five elements in various permutations and combinations make three basic life forces.
These life forces vary in their proportion and makes us unique as individuals.
They govern things like our taste preferences and skin conditions.
Seven tissues make up our bodies. Well functioning systems eliminate toxins efficiently.
Illnesses set in when this system fails. Ayurveda has the knowledge of restoring this imbalance or “dis-ease”.
Life forces (Doshas) in Ayurveda:
Ayurveda believes there are three life forces which govern our body mind and soul. These dynamic forces are called Doshas. Five basic elements [Either, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth] combine and interact with each other to create the three doshas, Vata [V], Pitta [P], and Kapha [K]. The proportion of these three doshas decide our constitution.
Each Dosha is made of two elements. Vata dosha is made up of space and air. Pitta dosha is a combination of fire and water. Kapha dosha is made up of water and earth. Together, the doshas orchestrate all the activities that occur within us. Understanding the origin of Dosha from basic elements is important for understanding the effect Doshas have on our body, mind and soul.
Vata originates from ether, or space and air elements. Strong Vata therefore will keep us in perpetual movement. Like air, Vata dominant people like change and manifest lightness, quickness, and flexibility in every aspect of life. When in harmony such people exude vibrant, lively, and expressive personality. On the other hand, too much of vata causes anxiety, feeling unsettled, irrational acts, indecisiveness, gloomy feelings, insomnia, headaches and fatigue.
Pitta on the other hand originates from “fire”. Excess or strong Pitta makes us intense. Actions, feelings, and thoughts- everything is intense when Pitta dominates because of the “fiery” quality. When in balance Pitta on the other hand invokes qualities of confidence, being focussed, intelligence and “seeing wood through the trees”. Excessive Pitta on the other hand causes a range of psychosomatic illnesses like heartburn, ulcers, insomnia. It affects our temperament by making us irritable, stubborn, sarcastic, and intolerant of others and so on. Fire after all can either cook or destroy things that meets it.
Finally, Kapha, made of water and earth elements gives us solidity and stability. In a balanced state, it is responsible for our existence in harmony and imparting the temperament of caring, easy-going, self-sufficient, calm, methodical, reliable and non-judgmental. Propensity to gain weight, water retention, mucous build-up (in the sinuses, lungs & colon), prolonged sleep, apathy, procrastination, possessiveness, rigidity, inflexibility often occur in Kapha.
On that note Seven permutations and combinations of the three Doshas are possible. Ayurveda believes that each person’s body constitution is different and hence it offers a highly-individualised approach to health and prevention of illness.
More importantly even though a person may be born with a constitution, the Dosha may change depending on the season, time of the day, activities we undertake (such as our work, hobbies, sexual activities, travelling etc), and food we eat and stress levels. Ayurveda respects the dynamic and ever changing nature of our lives. It also respects the fact that knowledge of our constitution and the factors that change must rest with us. Empowering people with knowledge in therefore fundamental to Ayurvedic practice.