Ayurveda: Integral Plan to Health and Wellness
Ayurveda is traditional system of health care originating in India approximately 5000 years ago. It is widely acknowledged as being the world's oldest integral practice of medicine. But Ayurveda is not simply an ancient health management system. The term Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit roots: Ayu which means "life" or "daily living" and Veda which means "knowing", "knowledge" or "science". Thus, the term Ayurveda can be defined as the "science of life".
And, indeed, Ayurveda is a complete approach to living, which takes into consideration all aspects of human existence, including physiology, psychology and philosophy. It emphasizes creating and maintaining a balance in and among the body, mind and spirit, and living in harmony with nature and cosmic forces. This is achieved through one's lifestyle, including proper diet, regular body cleansing, yoga postures and other exercise, breathwork , massages and meditation.
At the core of the Ayurvedic modality is the Five Element Theory. The premise of this theory is that everything is composed of five elements: space or ether, air, fire, water and earth. These elements are the building blocks of nature and, depending on how they combine and interact, determines how physical things (including the human body) function. These five elements are also related to the five senses: hearing (space/ether), touch (air), sight (fire), taste (water) and smell (earth).
The Ayurvedic Three Dosha Theory proposes that there are three basic body types, called doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each of the three doshas governs specific functions and process in the mind and body. The three basic doshas combine to create seven main constitutional body types. Although all three doshas are present in every individual, their proportions vary from one person to the next.
In Ayurveda, illness and disease stems from an imbalance in one or more of the doshas. Therefore, determining, knowing and understanding one's constitutional type is the key to not only maintaining good health and well-being but also to treating and healing various ailments.
Traditional Ayurvedic diagnostic methods include examination of the radial pulse, skin, face, tongue, eyes, nails, lips and urine. Customary healing methods include detoxification and cleansing, food remedies, herbal medications taken internally or applied topically, massage, Marma therapy, aromatherapy, healing sound and music therapy, and meditation.
Ayurveda is both exquisitely simple and yet extraordinarily complex. Although a fundamental knowledge of Ayurveda can be beneficial to every individual in preventing and maintaining good health, treating illnesses and diseases should be left to the expertise of an Ayurvedic practitioner.
Recommended Reading Book List
What is Ayurveda?
East vs. West Medicine
This information is provided for general interest and informational purposes only. It is not intended as guidance for medicinal use. Consultation with professional health care provider is always advised and encouraged.