“Where does human and nature begin? There is air out there, it is just air
(and) we call it nature. I breathe it in, it becomes my breathe.
Where is the boundary line?
There is calcium in the rock and calcium in my bone. When I ingest calcium from
the rock and put it in my bone, that becomes me, but I do not think of the other
calcium out there as my being. Why not?”
Swami Veda Bharati
Definition: Peacefulness, harmony, equilibrium, equanimity, satisfaction, contenment, santosha.
Simply stated, Ayurveda is a 5,000 year old system of health for the whole person. While new to America, it is the oldest system of healing and it is the sister science of Yoga.
Ayurveda is considered the healing side of Yoga and Yoga is considered the spiritual side of Ayurveda. They share the same end goal–that of reconnecting people to their true, balanced nature so that they may live healthier, more balance, more peaceful lives. Ayurveda and Yoga combined, create a comprehensive approach to a balanced body, mind and spirit.
Ayurveda–Sanskrit for the “knowledge, wisdom, science of life.”
“Ayus” means life and “veda” means knowledge or science. The term “Ayurveda” means the “knowledge of life” or “the science of life.”
The ancient Ayurvedic scholar, Charaka, stated that “ayu” is comprised of body, senses and the soul. The Rig Veda, written over 6,000 years ago, contains detailed prescriptions for various human ailments.
Ayurveda is widely considered the oldest form of healthcare in the world and the fundamentals of Ayurveda can be found in the Vedas, the ancient Indian books of wisdom.
Recently, popular books by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and others have called attention to the potential of this ancient healing system.
“Recently (the) National Cancer Institute funded 11 separate studies on Ayurvedic herbal preparations, as agents to be investigated for their possible role in the prevention and treatment of cancer.” Link to article here
Oprah + Deepak Chopra = Ayurveda has arrived and it’s thriving.
How Can Ayurveda Help Me?
The goal of Ayurveda is the prevent illness, restore health and extend life. Ayurveda helps us be vital, energized and to realize our highest potential.
When we live in harmony with our nature, we create health. When we live disharmoniously, we manifest imbalances. Ayurveda is an intuitive, simple, and complete system for learning how to live in greater harmony with our environment.
So, Ayurveda is a path back to optimal health achieved through the balancing of the five elements in the body and mind. Food choices, herbs, colors, aromas, lifestyle choices, five sense treatments, yoga and meditation are all tools used in the process.
Sometimes we feel it is indulgent to care for ourselves in this way. It is not. It is when we are balanced that we can be the healthiest, most loving, most effective, clearest and kindest.
Think of your last trip on an airplane. The flight attendant instructs us, in the event of an emergency, an air mask will come down. “Put on your own oxygen mask first, before assisting those around you.” When we invest in our balance, we share that balance with others through how we live.
Basic Principles of Ayurveda:
The Five Elements:
According to Ayurveda, everything in the universe is made up of a combination of the five elements.
Those elements and there qualities:
- Earth-solidity, stability Examples: piece of wood, metal, a flower
- Water-flow, liquidity Examples: water, gentle, loving emotions
- Fire- light, heat, transformation Examples: digestive fire, heat of a fever, pungent taste
- Air-motion Examples: movement of nerve impulses, limbs, breath
- Ether-connectedness, space Examples: body cavities, consciousness
The five elements are combined and represent the three fundamental qualities or bio-energetic forces that govern the structure and function of the body and mind. Though not measurable, we observe and experience them all day long.
In Ayurveda, they are known as doshas of which there are three: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. When any of the doshas accumulate, balance is lost. Each person has a unique constitution called prakruti; your individual combination of the three doshas.
Your prakruti is your uniqueness. It determines what is in harmony for your individual nature and what is not. Knowing your prakruti is necessary for optimal health.
Have you ever noticed how you may react to a food differently than others in your family? Or, you may be deeply attracted or repelled by certain colors, aroma and the like? (“Oh, I love that color-Oh, I cannot stand it.” Or, “I really liked that movie-I thought it was a waste of time.”) This is all influenced by prakruti.
When we understand our prakruti, we can make choices that support our balance. It’s that simple. When we don”t, and we are out of balance, we tend to seek out that which makes us more imbalanced.
In Ayurveda, the three doshas are balanced together.
- Vata (air + ether) governs movement.
- Pitta (fire + water) governs digestion, metabolism, and transformation.
- Kapha (water + earth) governs stability, structure, growth, immune strength, and protection.
Vata is involved with the movement of electricity in the nerves and as such plays a major role in the nervous system and brain. The movement of food through the digestive system and circulation of nutrients is the work of Vata.
When Vata is predominant, the body is thin, light and there is a quickness to the thoughts and actions. There is a theme of change. Balanced Vata is creative, enthusiastic, and fun. If there is excess Vata, there may be anxiety, poor digestion, pain.
Pitta is involved in metabolism and transformation. Pitta’s main job is the chemical transformation associated with digestion and metabolism.
When Pitta is predominant, there is a muscular frame. Pitta is smart and determined. When balanced, Pitta is warm, intelligent and a good leader. When out of balance, Pitta shows itself as critical, irritable, and aggressive.
Kapha is involved in building new tissues and is responsible for physical structure of the body including muscle and fat.
When Kapha predominates, the body frame is heavier. Thinking is slower and stable. When balanced, Kapha is calm, sweet, nurturing and loyal. When excessive, Kapha can gain weight, experience congestion, and resist healthy change.
The purpose of Ayurveda is to maintain balance between Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and to restore balance among the three doshas. This balance allows all aspects of us–body, mind and spirit-to function more optimally so that we may live more peaceful, fulfilling lives.
When the doshas are out of balance, they may manifest as such examples:
|Worry, anxiety||Frustration, criticalness||Depression, lethargy|
|Sleep problems||Red eyes, acne||Weight gain|
|Gas, bloating||Acidic stomach||Cravings|
|Lower back pain||Perfectionism||Oily skin|
|Menstrual problems||Burn out||Excessive sleep|
When the doshas are balanced, they may manifest as such examples:
In A Nutshell:
Using the principles of Ayurveda, we come to know ourselves well. We can now make choices that are the most supportive and nourishing to our lives.
We are a distinct blend of the five elements. These five elements combine to create the three doshas. All three doshas are present in each human being, in different amounts, that is prakruti, our constitution, our nature.
To live healthy, happy, peaceful lives, we need the knowledge of our nature and how to balance it. Ayurveda is a profound system based on prevention, maintenance, rejuvenation and self-realization. It is intuitive, simple, and sustainable.