Ayurveda literally means "science of life and longevity." and is considered to be the traditional system of medicine derived from the Indian philosophy of the Vedas about 5000 years ago.
It is the oldest health care system in the world.
Ayurveda is a science in the sense that it is a complete system. It is a qualitative, holistic science of health and longevity, a philosophy and system of healing the whole person, body and mind.
Ayurveda is based on the observation of nature and human beings.
Ayurveda believes in a healthful and happy living during the entire span of life and its various phases.
Ayurveda is grounded in the physics of the "five elements": earth, water, fire, air and ether; all of which compose the Universe, including the human body.
Ayurveda emphasizes that whatever is present in the universe or macrocosm is also present in the individual body or microcosm. Man is a miniature of nature..
In Ayurvedic philosophy, the five elements combine in pairs in human bodies to form 3 dynamic forces called doshas.
Doshas means:" which is fast to change" because doshas are constantly moving in dynamic balance one with the others. Doshas are primary life forces or biological humors, only found in life forms and their dynamism is what makes life happen.
Vata is the combination of air and ether; Vata is “wind”, Pitta is the combination of fire and water, Pitta is “bile”, and Kapha is the combination of water and earth, Kapha is “phlegm”.
Biochemically, the 3 doshas are similar to the 3 basic neuro- humors acetylcholine, catecholamine and histamine.
The 3 doshas or the 3 neuro-humors, are present all over the body. Their main releasing centre is in the brain. They control all the functions of various organs and tissues. Under too much stress or the strain of life, they are the first components which are disturbed and it leads to various chain of reaction in the body and to diseases.
The non-material components of the universe are known as the 3 qualities: consciousness, passion and inertia. Those qualities define human’s mind.
According to ayurveda, the 3 doshas, are important for health, because when they are in a more balanced state, the body will function to its fullest, and when imbalanced, the body will be affected negatively in certain ways. Ayurveda holds that each human possesses a unique combination of doshas, a unique balance of Vata, Pitta and Kapha that determines our strengths and weaknesses.
Ayurvedic theory is based on balancing an individual constitution and using food, herbs, plants, purgatives, oils, pastes, massages, yoga and lifestyle adjustments to construct an harmonious life.
Ayurveda offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential. Providing guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior and the proper use of our senses, Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.
Recognizing that human beings are part of nature, Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments: movement, transformation, and structure. Known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth), these primary forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. Each of us has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature. If Vata is dominant in our system, we tend to be thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable. If Pitta predominates in our nature, we tend to be intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented and we have a strong appetite for life. When Kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing. Although each of us has all three forces, most people have one or two elements that predominate.
For each element, there is a balanced and imbalance expression. When Vata is balanced, a person is lively and creative, but when there is too much movement in the system, a person tends to experience anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, constipation, and difficulty focusing. When Pitta is functioning in a balanced manner, a person is warm, friendly, disciplined, a good leader, and a good speaker. When Pitta is out of balance, a person tends to be compulsive and irritable and may suffer from indigestion or an inflammatory condition. When Kapha is balanced, a person is sweet, supportive, and stable but when Kapha is out of balance, a person may experience sluggishness, weight gain, and sinus congestion. 窶ｨ An important goal of Ayurveda is to identify a person’s ideal state of balance, determine where they are out of balance, and offer interventions using diet, herbs, aromatherapy, massage treatments, music, and meditation to reestablish balance.
The constitution is called the prakriti. The prakriti is a person's unique combination of physical and psychological characteristics and the way the body functions to maintain health. It is influenced by such factors as digestion and how the body deals with waste products. The prakriti is believed to be unchanged over a person's lifetime.
Life forces (doshas). Important characteristics of the prakriti are the three life forces or energies called doshas, which control the activities of the body. A person's chances of developing certain types of diseases are thought to be related to the way doshas are balanced, the state of the physical body, and mental or lifestyle factors.
Ayurveda's concept of the Tridoshas is unique to medical science. Ayurveda says the body is made up of tissues (dhatus), waste products (malas), and doshas (loosely translated to Energetic Forces). It is the Tridoshas' job to assist with the creation of all of the various tissues of the body and to remove any unnecessary waste products from the body. It is also the Tridoshas that influence all movements, all transformations, all sensory functions, and many of the other activities in the human body and mind.
The Vata dosha is the most important of the three doshas. This is for two reasons. First, if Vata becomes imbalanced for long enough and sufficiently enough, it can also cause the other two doshas (Pitta or Kapha) to become imbalanced. It can even cause both Pitta and Kapha to become imbalanced; this is called a Tridoshic imbalance and is the most difficult to overcome. Secondly, Vata is the main driver or mover of the body, including the other two doshas, all the tissues (dhatus) and all of the waste products (malas).
Vata provides the following functions:
窶｢ All eliminations: fetus, semen, feces, urine, sweat, and a few others
窶｢ Assists with all the various metabolisms in the body (called Agni in Ayurveda)
窶｢ Controls all of the various movement of body (both physical & mental), 窶ｨ including such things as respiration, heart beat, motivation and contraction of muscles
窶｢ Relays all sensory input from the various sense organs to the brain
The Pitta dosha is associated with fire or heat. Wherever there is transformation, there is Pitta (doing its job). Whether it is in the GI tract, liver, skin, eyes or brain doesn't matter, for these are all locations where Pitta works.
Pitta provides the following functions:
窶｢ Metabolism - at all the various levels 窶ｨ from digestion of food to transformation of all other material
窶｢ Thermogenesis - maintains the proper body temperature
窶｢ Vision - converts external images into optic nerve impulses
窶｢ Appetite - the feeling of hunger and thirst
窶｢ Comprehension - of information into knowledge, also reasoning and judgment
窶｢ Courage & Braveness - to face the situation
窶｢ Complexion - gives color and softness to skin
Kapha is the heaviest of the three doshas. It provides the structures and the lubrication that the body needs. These qualities help to counterbalance Vata's movement and Pitta's metabolism. A big, heavyset football play or wrestler is a person with a predominance of Kapha.
Kapha provides the following functions:
窶｢ Strength - to perform physical tasks
窶｢ Moistness & Lubrication - to prevent excessive friction from occurring between the various parts of the body
窶｢ Stability - to add the necessary grounding aspect to both mind and body
窶｢ Mass & Structure - to provide fullness to bodily tissues
窶｢ Fertility & Virility - to produce healthy offspring