What comes to your mind when you hear about ‘Ayurveda’? Do you instantly think about some ancient scriptures with deeper insights about body systems and health? Do you think about ‘doshas’? Or, do you get mental imagery of Indian spices, herbal concoctions, and oil massages?
Over the years, people have got introduced to Ayurveda in different ways. However, it’s important to note that the science of Ayurveda isn’t just limited to a body massage or a specific diet.
The term ‘Ayurveda’ originated over 5000 years back in India. It’s a Sanskrit word that can be broken to reveal it’s meaning. The Sanskrit root ayur means “longevity” or “life” and veda means “science”. Therefore, the all-encompassing 3-word definition of Ayurveda is – Science of Life.
Ayurveda is a holistic and natural medical science that emphasizes the mind-body connection. In Ayurveda, the focus is never to simply treat the illness but on establishing a lifestyle that promotes overall health and well-being.
Ayurveda also provides us with the means to build a deeper and stronger relationship with ourselves and harmonize our inner world to the outer world. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the core fundamentals of Ayurveda.
Discovering The Root Cause Of Your Ailments
The science of Ayurveda recognizes that every individual is different. In simple terms, this means that two people showing similar symptoms could be going through two completely different body ailments.
For instance, two people suffering from headaches could have different underlying body conditions. Haven’t we all experienced that from time to time?
An Ayurveda practitioner works closely with you to understand whether your ailment originates from an improper diet, lifestyle, hereditary reasons, negative thinking, or emotional and energetic imbalance.
The focus is not on simply treating the outer symptoms but rather on identifying the root cause and then providing a suitable natural remedy or regimen.
Your Unique Body Constitution or Prakriti
Just identifying the cause of the disease and treating it once isn’t enough. Ayurvedic science helps us understand our body systems better so that we can follow a lifestyle that prevents the recurrence of disease and maintain long term health.
Have you noticed that certain people are more immune to specific diseases while others seem to be at greater risk? Why does this happen?
It’s simply due to the unique constitution of each body known as Prakriti.
According to Ayurveda, everything in the universe, including human beings, is composed of five basic elements (or Panchamahabhutas): space, air, fire, water, and earth. These five elements combine with each other to give rise to three unique bio-physical forces (or Doshas) within the human body- Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (water and earth). Together, these doshas are known as Tridosha
Your body has all three doshas but one or two of them dominate and determine your body type. Interestingly, the prominence of these doshas in your body also keeps changing over time.
An Ayurvedic practitioner can evaluate your body condition to determine the imbalance caused by the dominance of one or more doshas and then provide you with the recommendations to restore the balance.
Ayurvedic Definition Of Health
Health and wellness mean different things to different people. Ayurveda has a unique and holistic definition that emphasizes mental as well as physical health.
One whose Doshas, Agni, and function of Dhatu and Malas are in the state of equilibrium and who has a cheerful mind, intellect, and sense organs is termed as “Svastha” (Healthy).
Ayurveda focusses on balance and interconnectedness of bodily functions. Your digestive ability (Agni), the balance of the doshas, nourishment of body tissues (Dhatu), and excretion of waste products (Malas) together with your mental well being, results in good health.
The ultimate aim of Ayurveda is to live life in a disease-free condition. A disease-free condition is the best source of virtue, wealth, gratification, and emancipation while disease, on the other hand, is the destroyer of this source, welfare, and life itself.
Identifying The Earliest Indicator Of Disease
Isn’t it always easier to cure an ailment in the early stages, rather than allowing it to develop, resulting in damage to the tissues? Ayurvedic practice appeals to consciously prevent diseases through healthy lifestyles.
Each one of us is endowed with a sufficient amount of common sense to distinguish between the convenient and inconvenient or healthy and harmful. However, most of the time we not tuned in to our body enough to pay attention to the early indicators of ill health.
The human body gives us all the indications needed in the form of signals, that we can learn to listen to. Each emotion is a biochemical response to a particular problem that lies deeper under the surface.
Most ailments first come from the mind before they even manifest on the physical plane. Ayurveda teaches you to observe your mind and catch yourself when it starts to get restless or more inclined to act on unhealthy desires.
What happens when you fail to notice this restlessness of your mind and act on your impulses? Your desires become the very essence of ignorance, bringing suffering, disease, and pain.
This imbalance that started in the mind, starts to reflect in your other body systems. Consequently, it leads to nutrition and regeneration disorders of seven bodily tissues (dhatus) and then to distortion of some of the vital life energy.
Conquering The Mind
Now that we know that all ailments are ultimately the ailments of the mind, it brings us to an important question – how do you conquer your mind?
The answer lies in the science of Yoga and Meditation which forms an important part of Ayurvedic healing. A famous Indian spiritual leader had said “Only the silence of the heart can cure the illness of the mind.” Yoga and Meditation are the means to practice this ‘silence’ and harmonize our existence with the universe.
Yoga is an ancient science that balances the mind and awakens it towards self-realization and awareness. Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means union, Yoga is a means to unify the mind, body, and spirit.
Mediation is another practice that helps us move towards the state of equilibrium or balance, and to get rid of all extremities. This state of balance is essential for maintaining good health.
The Ayurvedic Lifestyle – Dincharya
To facilitate overall health and wellness, Ayurveda also recommends that we follow a daily routine that helps in establishing balance. An Ayurvedic practitioner can guide you to a daily routine that helps in balancing the doshas (biological energy of body and mind i.e. Vatta, Pitta, Kapha) and to keep your Agni (digestion and metabolism) in proper order.
The ideal Ayurvedic routine includes waking up before dawn, exercising and meditating regularly, getting body massages, sleeping properly, and eating meals at the right time every day.
The biggest benefit of following an Ayurvedic lifestyle is that aligns you with nature. You begin to feel a certain harmony with the universe, This further strengthens your immunity and protects you from getting ill. Ayurveda routine also releases the stress and anxiety from the body and mind when meditation and massages are done on a regular basis. Further, the digestive ability (Agni) is strengthened.
Following Ayurveda Dincharya, removes worries and anxiety from your life, bringing you health, peace, and happiness.
In this article, we’ve introduced you to some of the key principles of Ayurveda. These principles summarize what Ayurveda is, however, the science of Ayurveda is much more extensive. There are healing techniques, diets, detox rituals, procedures that are a part of Ayurvedic treatments of diseases, and Ayurvedic medicine. We’ll be discussing them in detail in our upcoming articles.