Ayurveda is a five-thousand-year-old system of healing
with origins in the Vedic culture of ancient India
The Sanskrit word Ayurveda is derived from the root words ayuh, meaning “life” or “longevity,” and Veda, meaning “science” or “knowledge.” Ayurveda is "the Knowledge of Life.”
A mind-body-spirit approach to holistic health, Ayurveda teaches that the secret to maintaining good health and longevity is to know your own individual constitution (Prakriti) and its unique needs, as well as your present state of health (Vikriti) which is always affected by our outer world. Ayurveda is not a one-size-fits-all medical system.
For thousands of years, Ayurveda was an oral tradition, passed down from teacher to student, and so it's impossible to know just how old it really is. India's ancient texts known as the Vedas were written approximately B.C. 1500 by the Rishis (or seers) who, through deep contemplation and meditation, were able to "see" the truth of the Universe.
Two of the Vedas known as the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda give information about healing, surgery, and longevity. Along with general medicine, modalities such as pediatrics, toxicology, fertility and even plastic surgery are included.
Ayurveda is at the root of many other systems of health which came later - Traditional Chinese medicine, Greek medicine, Tibetan medicine, etc. Even in our modern times, the basic principles still apply.
Deeply rooted in Nature and the elements (air, ether, fire, water and earth), Ayurveda teaches us that living in harmony with Mother Nature is necessary if we want to live a long and healthy life.
Ayurveda is not about "quick fixes" when it comes to healing our body, mind and spirit. This ancient medical system always looks for the root cause of disease or illness - almost always beginning with our digestion. It is about prevention as much as healing.
An important principle in Ayurveda is that "like increases like" and so we apply opposite attributes to obtain balance. Common sense prevails here - if you're too cold, apply heat. Digestion sluggish? Add spices that increase metabolism. Problems with dryness (internally and externally)? Add healthy oils to your diet and on your skin. And on and on...
Ayurveda is a way of life. Knowing our unique constitution, our present state of imbalance, paying attention to our daily routine (a vital component) and living in harmony with Nature all lead us down the path to good health and longevity.
The three functional energies, or forces, in nature: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. In the body, it is the unique ratio of these three humours that determines an individual’s Prakriti (constitution). Our constitution is determined at the moment of conception and it never changes. It's influenced not only by the constitution of our parents, but also the time of day, season, and the emotional state of our parents at conception. What does change constantly is our present state of health (Vikriti) and that is where the focus needs to be in order to bring the body back into balance. When the doshas are present in appropriate quantities, they support the health and integrity of the body; when they accumulate (as basically waste products), they can cause illness and disease.
Vata dosha is predominated by the ether (space) and air elements and governs movement and communication. It is the king (or queen) of the doshas because without movement the other two doshas are useless. The word Vata literally means "wind" or "that which blows". Its qualities are light, cold, dry, rough, mobile, subtle, and clear. The hummingbird is representative of the Vata-type individual who is always flitting about, can't sit still. It is the dosha of depletion.
Kapha dosha is predominated by the earth and water elements and governs structure and cohesiveness. It is responsible for mucous, tissue and fat in the body. It gives the body its solidity and density. The word Kapha means "that which sticks". Kapha attributes are heavy, slow, cool, oily, smooth, dense, soft, stable, gross, steady and cloudy. The elephant is representative of the Kapha-type individual because of their slow, steady, loving nature. Kapha people love family and they have long-term memories like elephants.
Pitta dosha is predominated by the fire and water elements. It is the energy of transformation and the metabolic force in our body that rules digestion. If there’s heat or inflammation of any kind, Pitta is present. The word Pitta means "that which cooks." The fiery lion is representative of the Pitta-type person who is highly intelligent, passionate and friendly, but can roar when crossed.
Take the Dosha Quiz!