An Introduction to Ayruveda

  • We are living is an age of turmoil, tension and transition. The old is collapsing and the new is struggling to be born. Even in this fast paced age, there are new hopes, fresh aspirations and a tremendous quest for inner health. Ayurveda can be a good source of healing and inspiration for the self-founded by a future outlined by health and confidence. Our organism consists of a unique processing laboratory purposed for a timely self-cleanse. But due to our ignorance, improper food and life style patterns our organism soon becomes invaded by toxins and poisons that spread and disturb our rhythm and harmony. This stage may be related to the start of a serious sickness. Determination of the correct diagnosis revealing not only the damaged system or organ, but also the reason of this damage is the way to recovery. Our scientific approach and significant understanding of the root cause of diseases as well as the individualised body friendly treatments distinguishes Ayurveda as a complete system of health care.

Introduction to Ayruveda

Ayurveda is Sanskrit for "knowledge of life". It recognizes that nature exists in harmony with the universe due to its elements being in balance. Ayurveda is an ancient tradition or way of life that has existed for over 10, 000 years and, believe it or not, is the origin of all other healing practices including; natural, traditional and modern. The purpose of Ayurveda is to restore and maintain the balance of the elements within our being in accordance with our unique constitution or Prakriti . The basic principle underlying this approach is that health and happiness is our birth right. One's body can heal itself with natural measures. Ayurveda is not only a system of medicines but a natural way of living in harmony with one's existence. Ayurvedic treatment does not only complement modern science but it can completely eradicate certain serious illnesses.

The image of Ayurveda has been distorted by glossy pictures oil being poured over a forehead, beautiful hands massaging a back, healthy looking vegetarian dishes and colorful Indian herbs. All of the above are to be found as posters and brochures or as Ayurvedic supplements in health shops and on the internet.

Is that Ayurveda though? Is that all that this oldest living healing science means? Ayurveda is a highly specialized and scientific form of ancient medicine. It is about various aspects such as healing, energy, kindness, compassion, cooking, music, beauty and colours. In India a VAIDYA (Ayurvedic doctor) must complete a six-year university degree. All Ayurvedic graduates are trained in both Ayurvedic and medical hospitals. A 3-year post-graduate MD degree is offered to the most successful graduates. This means that an Ayurvedic treatment is by definition intensely personal, and consequently, the strictest confidence is a feature of the doctor-patient relationship.



What is Prakriti

The term Prakriti is derived from a Sanskrit word that means, 'nature', 'creativity' or the 'first creation'. Prakriti is the physical and psychological constitution of an individual, which is determined on the basis of three doshas. One of the very important concepts of Ayurveda is that one's basic constitution is fixed throughout his lifetime. But some pathological changes affect this. The Ayurvedic physician's role is to treat these changes and to bring a person in line with his/her basic Prakriti. Knowing our Prakriti is helpful as it not only helps us know our self-better but also helps us in getting rid of diseases. It helps in understanding certain important characteristics. We must understand that our basic constitution is decided at the time of fertilization of sperm and ovum (Condition of sperm-ovum) and is affected by our upbringings.

According to Ayurveda, everything in this universe is made up of five elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air and ether (space). These elements combine to form the three doshas: Vata, Kapha, and Pita, or metabolic types and are represented in the human body in different forms. For instance, bones and teeth are earth, blood and lymph are water, the metabolism is fire, oxygen is air, and ether is the spaces found between matter, represented best by vibration or sound.




The Tridosha principal of Ayurveda

If you looked closely, you would find that any diet or exercise regime etc, works great for about one third of the population, is averagely successful for another third, and for the other third, they are downright damaging to one's health.

Why is this so?

Because we are all DIFFERENT!!!

Now this is blatantly obvious, and you and everyone else already know that. Strangely though, when it comes to diets, supplements, health and exercise programs etc, most people (and experts) tend to search for some universal remedy that is right for everyone. Ridiculous! The fundamental aspect is a comprehensive system of understanding of how we are all different and most importantly, what specific foods, exercise and daily/seasonal routines are right/balancing for you. The ancient & eternal science of Ayurveda does just that, through its timeless understanding of what's called 'the doshas'. The Ayurvedic Doshas According to Ayurveda each one of us is comprised of a unique mix of three mind/body principles which are responsible for our 'unique' physical, mental and emotional characteristics. These doshas are the 'governing principles' of 'Intelligence' that literally govern everything in the universe and therefore each one of us, including you!



Vata , pita and kapha

The doshas are far more fundamental than the humours of the body (or anything 'physical'). They are literally the 'intelligence' that underlies all the structure and function in the universe. You can't literally see or touch the doshas though you can see their expressions. So always view the doshas as the principles of 'intelligence' that run your body - they are not a physical part of your body as such.

Through understanding these three doshas and their influence on the body and you literally hold the reins of life in your hand. As the doshas govern 'everything', if you know how to balance them, in principle you can eliminate ill-health, create perfect balance and enjoy ideal health without any need for an 'external' expert, doctor, guru or anyone/anything outside your own 'Self'. And that's the way health is meant to be - where YOU are in control of your wellbeing, completely self-sufficient.

According to Ayurveda, everything is comprised of different proportions of five fundamental elements - space, air, fire, water and earth. Ayurveda contends that 'space' is also an element as without space the other elements have nowhere to exist.



VATA AIRY ( WINDY) Vata is dominantly expressed as 'space and air' and is responsible for all 'communication and movement'. It's qualities are light, dry, changeable, quick, cold & subtle like the 'wind'.

PITTA (FIRE) Pitta is dominantly expressed as fire and a little bit of water. Pitta governs all 'energy and transformation 'in our bodies and the universe. Its qualities are like fire - hot, intense, sharp, dynamic, sour/acidic, related to colour (red, orange, yellow etc).

KAPHA -EARTHY Kapha is dominantly expressed as water and earth. As such it is almost the exact opposite of Vata Dosha. It is heavy, slow, non-changing, sweet and moist/unctuous/oily. Kapha governs all 'structure and lubrication'.

HOW ARE WE DIFFERENT/ UNIQUE? While each of us has some of each Dosha (you couldn't live without all the doshas being present), the proportion of the doshas in your 'make-up' will be different from those around you. Your individual mix of doshas is called your 'Prakriti'. It's your individual or unique 'mind-body' make-up or constitution - your essential 'Nature' to be precise.

Note - You Have All 3 Doshas: It's important to appreciate that you (or anyone) are not just one dosha, but a combination of all three. Most people have one or two doshas most dominant in their nature, with the other one(s) less prominent. Where someone has equal amounts of all three doshas, this is called 'sama dosha'.

ARE YOU OUT OF BALANCE?

Because the doshas govern 'everything' in the universe, everything you do, affects the balance of doshas within your mind & body.

For example, due to particular weather/seasonal influences, lifestyles, foods, relationships etc, you may create too much or too little of one or more doshas in your body mind. Such imbalance is called 'Vikriti'. Although anyone can develop any doshas imbalance, individuals with naturally strong vata tendencies are more prone to vata imbalances, those with naturally strong kapha tendencies are more prone to kapha imbalances etc.