Ayurveda literally means – “The Science of Life”. It is considered the oldest healing science known to man. Originating more than 5000 years ago, the roots of Ayurveda are in India, in the Vedic culture. Tibettan medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, both have their roots in Ayurveda. It is a holistic healing system focussing on balancing the Mind, Body and Soul to achieve optimum health. A striking feature of Ayurveda is the focus on maintaining good health, rather than fighting the disease.
Balance is Everything!
Good health is the result of the right balance of one’s diet, thoughts, lifestyle and the use of herbs. Ayurveda talks about the five basic elements found in the universe – Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The same elements comprise the human body. These elements form three life energies called “Doshas”, a unique mix of which is specific to each person, with one dosha being more prominent than the others. These doshas are – Vata (Space and Air), Pitta (Fire and Water) and Kapha (Water and Earth). When these doshas are in balance, good health follows. External stress however creates disbalance in this unique energy “fingerprint” for each individual, which defines one’s emotional, mental and physical state.
Your Unique Energy fingerprint!
Let us look at each of the three doshas.
Vata being associated with movement governs one’s breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart and also cell membranes. In balance, Vata promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety. It can also cause insomnia, dry skin, constipation and difficulty in focussing.
Pitta is associated with digestion, absorption, metabolism and bodily temperature. In balance, pitta promotes understanding and intelligence. A person is warm, friendly, disciplined and a good leader and speaker. Out of balance, pitta arouses anger, hatred and jealousy. A person becomes compulsive and irritable, and can have indigestion or other inflammatory condition.
Kapha forms the bodily structure – bones, muscles and tendons. It provides the ‘glue’ that holds the cells together. It lubricates joints, moisturises the skin, and maintains immunity. In balance, kapha is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. A person is Sweet, supportive and stable. Out of balance, it leads to attachment, greed and envy. A person can become sluggish, and experience weight gain.
Ayurveda focuses on the free flow of life energy within the body which promotes natural immunity keeping the body disease-free. Panchakarma therapy which forms a part of Ayurveda, comprises five therapies which focus on releasing accumulated toxins from deep within the tissues and balance the doshas in the body.
The science of Ayurveda is truly one of the greatest gifts given to the world by India. It is becoming increasingly popular word over and people are giving up the use of harmful drugs which can weaken and damage the body and turning towards a more holistic and life-affirming system of healing and wellness.
This article is part of the Great Strengths of India Series.
Read more about India – The World’s Spiritual Home.