AYURVEDA

 

DEFINITION

Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word derived from two roots , “Ayu” meaning life and “Veda” which means knowledge.  Therefore the term Ayurveda means the knowledge or science of life.

 

AIM OF AYURVEDA

Ayurveda aims not only to treat diseases/conditions but also to create health and well being. It is not a series of medicines or treatments that just addresses the symptoms or particular ailments. It is aimed at treating the whole person – the mind, body and spirit.

 

HOW DOES IT WORK/PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE OF AYURVEDA

 

 Ayurvedic treatment is based on the principle that every individual person has a unique constitution that is related to energies within the body. 

According to Ayurvedic fundamentals, our constitutions are determined by a combination of the three dosas – “Tridoshas” – Vata, Pitta and Kapha.  This is comparable to the unique genetic code or DNA of each individual.  Each individual is controlled by all three doshas to different degrees but generally there are one or two dominant doshas. The unique qualities of Vata, Pitta and Kapha are a combination of two of the five elements , Pancha Maha bhootas – Space , Air, Fire, Water and Earth.

 

When all the three doshas are in balance, there is perfect health. In Ayurveda, ill health occurs when there is imbalance among the doshas. Treatment is aimed at restoring the disturbed mechanism.  Ayurvedic treatment is tailored to the individual. By assessing each individual’s constitution, the Ayurvedic physician diagnoses the cause of the imbalance , identifies the constitutional type and decides upon the best possible treatment.

Ayurveda offers specific recommendations to each individual on lifestyle, diet, exercise and yoga, and herbal therapy  to restore balance in the body and mind.

The understanding that we are all unique individuals enables Ayurveda to address not only specific health concerns but also offers explanation as to why one person responds differently than another.

 

THE FIVE ELEMENTS – BUILDING BLOCKS OF NATURE

PANCHA MAHA BHOOTHAS

 

The concept of the five elements is one of the most fundamental in Ayurvedic Science. These five elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth) exist in all matter.  Our physical as well as mental characteristics are all directly related to the body’s five elements.

 

SPACE

Also referred to as “Ether”, Space is empty, light, subtle, and omnipresent. Spaces in the body include the mouth, nose, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract , abdomen and thorax.

 

AIR

Air is dry, light, clear and mobile. Air expresses itself in the movement of the muscles, the pulsations of the heart, the expansion and contraction of the lungs. Sensory and neural impulses move to and from the brain under the influence of the air principle , which is also responsible for breathing, ingestion, the movement of the intestines and elimination.

 

FIRE

Fire is hot, dry, sharp, penetrating and luminous. In our Solar system, the sun is the source of fire and light. In the body, our biological “fire” in the solar plexus regulates body temperature and metabolism: digestion, absorption and assimilation.

 

WATER

Water is fluid, heavy, soft, viscous, cold, dense and cohesive. Water exists in the body as plasma, cytoplasm, serum, saliva, nasal secretion, cerebrospinal fluid, urine and sweat. It is necessary for nutrition and to maintain life. Without it, our cells could not survive.

 

 

EARTH

 

Earth is heavy, hard, rough, firm, dense, slow moving and bulky – the most solid of the five elements. It gives strength, structure and stamina to the body. All the body’s solid structures (bones, cartilage, nails, teeth, hair, skin) are derived from the earth element.

 

Both in our outer environment and within us, the proportion and balance of these five elements is forever shifting, changing with the seasons, the weather, the time of the day, the stage of one’s life. For health and often for survival, we have to continuously accommodate ourselves to these changes , through what we eat, what we wear, where we live and so on.

 

 

 

 

THE THREE DOSHAS - TRIDOSHAS

 

The five elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth) combine into three basic energies  which are present in all matter in varying proportions.  Space and Air constitute Vata. Fire and Water combine to make up Pitta. Water and earth constitute Kapha.

 

These three doshas are present in every cell, tissue and organ of our body.  When they are in balance , the body is in perfect health. Disease occurs when there is imbalance among the doshas. The proportion of the doshas in constitutions are responsible for the huge variety of differences in individuals.

 

In Ayurveda, Vata is the air principle and is the energy of movement. Pitta is the principle of fire , the energy of digestion and metabolism. Kapha is the principle of water, the energy of lubrication and structure.

 

These doshas are present in all bodies but one of them is usually dominant. Thus each person has a unique combination a dominant dosha, a secondary dosha  and a third less prominent one. This leads to the person possessing a particular combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics  that make up his unique basic constitution which is called the Prakurthi.

 

VATA

 

Vata is the energy of movement. As the principle of movement, vata is responsible for breathing, blinking of our eyes,  heart beats, and all movement sin the cytoplasm and cell membranes. All the impulses of our nervous system are governed by Vata.. A balanced vata promotes creativity and flexibility and feelings of freshness, lightness, happiness and joy. Out of balance, Vata produces fear, nervousness, and anxiety.

 

PITTA

 

As the principle of Fire, Pitta governs all the biochemical  changes  within our bodies , regulating digestion, absorption, assimilation and body temperature. The pitta, when in balance, promotes intelligence and understanding and is crucial in learning.  An unbalanced pitta may arouse fiery emotions such as frustration , anger, hatred, criticism and jealousy..

 

KAPHA

 

Kapha is the energy that holds the body together.. It also supplies the liquid necessary for the life of the cells and body systems. It lubricates our joints, moisturizes the skin, helps to heal wounds and maintains immunity. It provides strength, vigour and stability. When kapha is in balance, it evokes feelings of love , calmness and forgiveness. An imbalanced kapha is responsible for the emotions of attachment, greed, lust and envy.

 

Together, these doshas govern all the body’s metabolic activities.  Kapha dominates from birth to age 16. This is the time of greatest physical growth and the structuring of the body. Kapha disorders such as lung congestion, cough, colds and mucus secretions are common in this phase of life.

In adulthood, a time of vitality and activity, pitta is most active. Vata takes over in old age, bringing disorders such as tremors, emaciation, breathlessness, arthiritis and loss of memory..

 

  

 

 

 

 

ATTRIBUTES OF THE VATA INDIVIDUAL

 

ATTRIBUTES

MANIFESTATIONS IN THE BODY

 

Dry

Dry skin, hair, lips, tongue, colon, tending towards constipation, hoarse voice.

 

Light      

Light muscles, bones, thin body frame, light scanty sleep, under- weight.


Cold 

Cold hands, feet, poor circulation, hates cold and loves hot, muscle stiffness.


Rough 

Rough, cracked skin, nails, hair, teeth, hands and feet, cracking joints.   

       

Subtle

Subtle fear, anxiety, insecurity, fine goose pimples, minute muscle twitching, fine tremors, delicate body


Mobile

Fast walking, talking, restless, unstable joints, swinging moods

 

Clear 

Understands and forgets immediately, clear, open mind, experiences loneliness.


Astringent

Dry choking sensation in the throat, craving for sweet, sour and salty tastes.


 

                                                      

 

GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR BALANCING VATA

 

 

 

Keep Warm

 

Keep calm

 

Avoid raw foods

 

Avoid cold foods

 

Avoid extreme cold temperatures

 

Eat warm food and spices

 

Keep a regular routine

 

ATTRIBUTES OF PITTA INDIVIDUALS

 

ATTRIBUTES

MANIFESTATIONS IN THE BODY


Hot

Strong appetite, higher than normal body temperature, hates heat, grey hair with receding hairline or baldness, soft brown hair

 

Sharp  

Sharp teeth, distinct eyes, pointed nose, tapering chin, heart shaped face, good absorption and digestion, sharp memory and understanding, irritable.


Light 

Light/medium body frame, does not tolerate bright light, fair shiny skin, bright eyes.


Oily 

Soft oily skin, hair, does not like deep fried food.


Liquid

Soft delicate muscles, excess urine, sweat and thirst.


Sour

Sour acid stomach, acidic pH, sensitive teeth, excess salivation


Bitter 

Bitter taste in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, repulsion towards bitter taste, cynical


Pungent

Heartburn, burning sensations in general, strong feelings of hate and anger.


 

 

 

GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR BALANCING PITTA

 

 

 

Avoid excessive heat

 

Avoid excessive oil

 

Avoid excessive steam

 

Limit salt intake

 

Eat cooling, non spicy foods

 

Drink cool (but not iced) drinks

 

Exercise during cooler part of the day.

 

 

 

ATTRIBUTES OF KAPHA INDIVIDUALS

 

ATTRIBUTES

MANIFESTATIONS IN THE BODY


Heavy

Heavy bones, muscles, large body frame, tends to be overweight, grounded, deep, heavy voice.


Slow

Slow walk, talk, slow digestion, metabolism, sluggish gestures.


Cool

Cold clammy skin, steady appetite and thirst with slow metabolism, repeated cold, congestion and cough, desire for sweets.


Oily 

Oily skin, hair, lubricated, unctuous joints and other organs.


Damp

Congestion in the chest, sinuses, throat and head.


Smooth 

Smooth skin, gentle calm nature, smoothness of organs.


Soft 

Soft pleasing look, love, care, compassion and kindness.


Static

Loves sitting, sleeping and doing nothing.


Viscous

Viscous, sticky, firmness of joints and organs.


 

                                      

 

GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR BALANCING KAPHA

 

 

 

Get plenty of exercise

 

Avoid heavy foods

 

Vary your routine

 

Avoid dairy foods

 

Avoid iced foods and drinks

 

Avoid fatty or oily foods

 

Eat light, dry food.


 
 
     
 
 
 
   
   
 
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