What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a comprehensive natural healing system that includes mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The term Ayurveda is made from two Sanskrit words, ayur meaning life and longevity, and veda meaning wisdom, science, and knowledge. Ayurveda translates to “the science/knowledge of life/longevity.”
Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of India. Its roots go back over five thousand years. Often referred to as the “mother of all healing,” Ayurveda may be the oldest health care system in the world. It is not only a medical system, but also a framework for living a healthy life with a peaceful mind.
Ayurveda works wonders for both chronic and acute imbalances because it addresses the root cause of the problem, not just the symptoms. Ayurveda also gives us guidance on how to live day-to-day, in sound health, with a focus on prevention. Since Ayurveda is based in nature, its treatment methods aim to restore balance naturally through:
- Dietary Changes
- Lifestyle Modifications
- Herbal Medicine
- Yogic Practices, Including Asana (physical postures), Pranayama (Breath Techniques), and Meditation
- Cleansing Practices, such as Panchakarma
Working with the principles of Ayurveda is fairly simple, once you understand the basics. One lovely aspect about Ayurveda is that with a little knowledge you can accomplish a lot. However, one difference between Ayurveda and other systems of medicine is that YOU have to take an active role in your health.
The Three Doshas
Ayurveda is based upon five basic elemental principles that comprise our physical universe: earth (solid matter), water (liquid matter), fire (that which transforms solid, liquid and gas), air (gaseous matter) and space (the container for the other four elements). These elements combine in different ways to produce the three “doshas” called Vata, Pitta and Kapha (VPK).
Each of us is born with out own unique combination of the doshas, called “prakruti”. Your prakruti is the genetic predisposition that, throughout life, governs your inherent strengths, weaknesses, characteristics, and tendencies. It is determined at the moment of conception from your parents’ combination of the three doshas.
After understanding your prakruti, it is essential to look at your current changeable state of health, called “vikruti.” Your vikruti is how you have been feeling recently and is often different than your prakruti. Knowing your vikruti shows you where to focus in order to bring yourself back into balance.