Ayurveda is the science that continues to show us how to not only add years to our lives, but life to our years.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, translated in Sanskrit as the “Science of Life,” is an ancient healing system developed and passed down orally over 5,000 years ago in India, and eventually recorded in the Vedic texts. Although suppressed during years of foreign occupation, Ayurveda is experiencing a major resurgence today, especially with the unprecedented rise of chronic disease, and the growing consciousness that many of these “diseases of excess” are preventable, as well as treatable, through diet and lifestyle changes. Ayurveda incorporates daily and seasonal routines, along with dietary, lifestyle, herbal and cleansing regimens to achieve optimal health and balance to mind, body and spirit.
The basic premise of Ayurveda is that humans are all composed of the same five elements, or panchamahabuthas, that comprise the Earth: Air (Vayu), Space (Akasha), Earth (Pritvhi), Fire (Tejas) and Water (Aapa). And from these five elements arise the three body humors or Doshas: Vata (Air & Space), Pitta (Fire & Water) and Kapha (Water & Earth). Every human being is composed of the three doshas in differing proportions, and most people have one or two that dominate. Since dosha literally means “that which goes out of balance,” a delicate balance must be maintained within each individual. When doshas become imbalanced, disease occurs. Thus, the goal of Ayurveda is to keep these doshas in balance with respect to the unique inborn constitution of the individual. Therefore, Ayurveda provides individualized comprehensive dietary and lifestyle guidelines for achieving and restoring balance to mind, body and soul.
your constitution & its inner balance
Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create this balance of body, mind and consciousness according to one’s own individual constitution and how to make lifestyle changes to bring about and maintain this balance.
Just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, each person has a particular pattern of energy—an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics—which comprises their own constitution. This constitution is determined at conception by a number of factors and remains the same throughout one’s life.
Many factors, both internal and external, act upon us to disturb this balance and are reflected as a change in one’s constitution from the balanced state. Examples of these emotional and physical stresses include one’s emotional state, diet and food choices, seasons and weather, physical trauma, work and family relationships. Once these factors are understood, one can take appropriate actions to nullify or minimize their effects or eliminate the causes of imbalance and re-establish one’s original constitution. Balance is the natural order; imbalance is disorder. Health is order; disease is disorder. Within the body there is a constant interaction between order and disorder. When one understands the nature and structure of disorder, one can re-establish order.
evaluation & treatment of imbalances
Ayurveda encompasses various techniques for assessing health. The practitioner carefully evaluates key signs and symptoms of illness, especially in relation to the origin and cause of an imbalance. They also consider the patient’s suitability for various treatments. The practitioner arrives at diagnosis through direct questioning, observation and a physical exam, as well as inference. Basic techniques such taking the pulse, observing the tongue, eyes and physical form; and listening to the tone of the voice are employed during an assessment.
Palliative and cleansing measures, when appropriate, can be used to help eliminate an imbalance along with suggestions for eliminating or managing the causes of the imbalance. Recommendations may include the implementation of lifestyle changes; starting and maintaining a suggested diet; and the use of herbs. In some cases, participating in a cleansing program, called panchakarma, is suggested to help the body rid itself of accumulated toxins to gain more benefit from the various suggested measures of treatment.
In summary, Ayurveda addresses all aspects of life — the body, mind and spirit. It recognizes that each of us is unique, each responds differently to the many aspects of life, each possesses different strengths and weaknesses. Through insight, understanding and experience Ayurveda presents a vast wealth of information on the relationships between causes and their effects, both immediate and subtle, for each unique individual.