A yurveda is holistic system of medicine, meaning that our mind, body, and spirit are all taken into consideration in the diagnosis and treatment of illness. In the West, we have long believed that each of us has the same anatomy, physiology, and disease process, but it have become increasingly clear that this approach does not take into account our very prominent differences including our mental attitudes, our lifestyles, and our fundamental energy or spirit.
Ayurveda is based on the philosophy that we are all unique, so it addresses each of these things in its treatment of people as individuals, and teachers that all illnesses affect the body and mind, which should not be treated in isolation from each other.
WHAT IS AYURVEDA?
Ayurvedic medicine is the traditional system of medicine practiced in India and Sri Lanka. Like Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda is a complete system of healthcare, designed to contribute to a way of life, rather than an occasional treatment.
The world “Ayurveda” means “science” or “wisdom” of life, and it embraces elements as diverse as medicine, philosophy, science, spirituality, astrology, and astronomy. Although Ayurveda has been practiced for over 3,000 years, it is a sophisticated and advanced system of living that is as relevant today as it was so many years ago. It fact, as we begin to realize the limitations of our conventional Western approach, it becomes clear that Ayurveda can offer much to treat and prevent many modern disease that conventional medicine has been unable to treat. Some of these include ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), stress-related disorders, arthritis, impotence, asthma, eczema, and chronic illness. It offers natural herbal remedies to counter imbalances in the body, and detoxification, diet, exercise, meditation, spiritual guidance, and wide-ranging techniques to improve mental and emotional health.
PRANA – THE ENEGY OF LIFE
The fundamental belief in Ayurveda is that everything within the universe is composed of energy, or “Prana”. Like everything else, we too are comprised of energy, which changes according to our circumstances, our environment, our diets and lifestyles, and the world around us. Some of these changes can be positive, and others negative, and in order to ensure that most of the changes are positive, we must live in a way that encourages energy balance. Energy controls the functions of every cell, thought, emotion, and action so every aspect of our lives, including the food we eat and the thoughts we think, affects the quality of our energy, and consequently our health.
Ayurvedic medicine teaches that there is no single prescription for health that is appropriate for everyone. In Ayurveda every person must be treated individually. The skill of the practitioner lies in his ability to correctly identify each individual’s constitution, diagnosing the causes of imbalance and the treating the patient accordingly.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
ETHER corresponds to the spaces in the body: the mouth, nostrils, thorax, abdomen, respiratory tract, and cells.
AIR is the elements of movement so it represents muscular movement, pulsation, expansion and contraction of the lungs, and intestines, even the movement in every cell.
FIRE controls enzyme functioning. It shows itself as intelligence, fuels the digestive system, and regulates metabolism.
WATER is in plasma, blood, saliva, digestive juices, mucous, membranes, and cytoplasm, the liquid inside cells.
EARTH manifests in the solid structures of the body: the bones, nails, teeth, muscles, cartilage, tendons, skin, and hair. The five elements also relate to our senses: sound is transmitted through Ether; Air is related to touch; Fire is related to sight; Water is related to taste; and Earth is connected to smell. Ayurveda teaches that all organic matter is formed from the Earth elements, which “gave” birth” to other matter. All five elements may be presents in all matter: Water, when it is frozen, becomes solid like Earth; Fire melts it back to Water; Fire can turn Water to steam, which is dispersed within the Air and the Earth.
O ur constitutions are very important in Ayurveda, and each of each is individual, according to our specific energies. We inherit many aspects of our constitution, and we can live a healthy and happy life if we strive to attain a good quality of spirit (with no envy, hatred, anger, or ego), and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Your constitution is determined by the state of your parents’ Doshas at the time of your conception, and each individual is born in the “Prakruthi” state, which means that you are born with levels of the three Doshas that are right for you. But, as we go through life, diet, environment, stress, trauma, and injury cause the Doshas to become imbalanced, a state known as the “Vikruthi” state. When levels of imbalance are excessively high or low it can lead to ill health. Ayurvedic practitioners work to restore individual to their “Prakruthi” state.
- Often constipated
- Frequent but square urine and little perspiration
- Highly original and creative mind
- Poor long-term memory
- Rapid speech
- Tendency to anxiety and depression
- High sex drive (or none at all)
- Love of travel
- Dislike of cold weather
The balance of the three Doshas depends on a variety of factors, principally correct diet and exercise, maintaining good digestion, healthy elimination of body wasters, and ensuring balanced emotional and spiritual health.
We will be made up of a combination of two or all three types of Doshas, although we way tend to be predominantly one. Some sub-groups include Vátha-Pitta, Vátha- Kapha or Pitta-Kapha.
THE FUNDAMENTAL QUALITIES
The principle of qualities in Ayurveda is similar to the Chinese concept of yin and yang, in that every quality has its opposite, and good health depends on finding a balance between the two extremes of qualities such as slow and fast, wet and dry, cloudy and clear. For example, hot and cold exist together as a pair of qualities, and everything in between is composed of levels of heat and cold. Heat relates to pitta, an imbalance of which can cause problems such as fevers, heartburn, or emotional disturbances such as anger or jealousy. If you have an excess of pitta you need to reduce your heat quality by eating fewer pitta foods, such as onions, garlic, and beef and introduce more “cooling” foods, such as eggs, cheese, and lentils.
Pitta is mostly fire with some Water. It qualities are light, hot, oily, sharp, liquid, sour, and pungent is “medium” and portrayed by the color red. Pitta types seem to conform to a happy medium, and are of medium height and build, with soft, fair, freckled, or bright skin; soft, fair, light brown, or reddish hair that goes prematurely gray; small, yellowish teeth, and an average-sized mouth.
- Speak clearly, but often sharply
- Enjoy is light but uninterrupted sleep
- Clear memory
- Passionately sexual
- Interested in politics
- Dislike heat
- Love luxury
- Loose stools and tendency to diarrhea
- Strong appetite
- Great thirst
AGNI AND DIGESTION
In Ayurveda, good digestion is the key to good health. Poor digestion produces “Ama”, a toxic substance that is believed to be the cause of illness. Ama is seen in the body as a white coating on the tongue, but it can also line the colon and clog blood vessels. Ama occurs when the metabolism is impaired as a result of an imbalance of “Agni”. Agni is the Fire which, when it is working effectively, maintains normality in all the function of the body. Uneven Agni is caused by imbalances is the Doshas, and such factors as eating and drinking too much of the wrong foods, smoking, and repressing emotions.
Malas represent the effective elimination of waste products and there are three main types:
* Sharkrit or Pureesha (feces)
* Mootra (urine)
* Sweda (sweat)
Ama is a fourth type of waste, which cannot be eliminated, and an accumulation of which cause disease. Composed of toxic materials, a build-up of Ama is the result of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, and the ingestion of toxins.
KAPHA is a combination of mostly Water and some Earth. Its qualities are heavy, cold, oily, slow, slimy, dense, soft, static, and sweet. Kapha is the heaviest of the Doshas, and is portrayed by yellow. Kapha people tend to be large-framed and often overweight, with thick, pale, cool, and oily skin; thick, wavy and oily hair, either very dark or very light; strong white teeth, and a large mouth with full lips.
- Speaks slowly and momentously, and needs plenty of deep sleep
- Sluggish or slow but steady appetite
- Heavy sweating
- Large soft stools
- Business- like
- Good memory
- Passive, bordering on lethargic
- Dislikes cold and damp
- Delights in good food and familiar places
THE SEVEN TISSUES
Imbalance in the doshas also cause imbalance in the seven body tissues, or “Dhatus.” There are: plasma (rasa), blood (raktha), muscle (mamsa), fat (madas), bone (asthi), marrow and nerve (majja), and reproductive tissues (shukra). The Dhatus support and derive energy from each other, so when one is affected the others also suffer.