Ayurveda literally means “The Science of Life”. It is considered to be the oldest healing science known to man. Ayurveda has its roots in India more than 5000 years ago, in the Vedic culture. Tibetan medicine and traditional Chinese medicine both have their roots in Ayurveda. It is a holistic healing system that focuses on balancing the mind, body and soul for optimal health. A striking feature of Ayurveda is its focus on maintaining health rather than fighting disease.
Good health is the result of the right balance between diet, thoughts, lifestyle and the use of herbs. Ayurveda talks about the five basic elements of the universe – earth, air, fire, water and earth. The same elements encompass the human body. These elements form three life energies, which are called “doshas”. A unique mix of these is specific to each person, with one dosha being more important than the other. 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. However, external stress creates an imbalance in this unique energy “fingerprint” for each individual that defines a person’s emotional, mental and physical state.
Let’s look at each of the three doshas.
Vata Being associated with movement regulates breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, the pulsation of the heart and also the cell membranes. Vata promotes balance creativity and flexibility. Vata creates fear and restlessness out of balance. It can also cause insomnia, dry skin, constipation, and difficulty focusing.
Pitta is associated with digestion, absorption, metabolism, and body temperature. Pitta promotes balance Understand and intelligence. A person is warm, kind, disciplined, and a good leader and speaker. Pitta gets out of balance with anger, hatred and jealousy. A person becomes compulsive and irritable, and may have indigestion or other inflammatory diseases.
Kapha forms the structure of the body – bones, muscles and tendons. It provides the “glue” that holds the cells together. It lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin and maintains immunity. In equilibrium, Kapha is expressed as love, Quiet and forgiveness. A person is sweet, supportive, and stable. When out of whack, 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 in the body, which promotes natural immunity and keeps the body disease free. Panchakarma therapy, which is part of Ayurveda, includes five therapies that focus on releasing accumulated toxins from deep within the tissues and balancing the doshas in the body.
The science of Ayurveda is truly one of the greatest gifts India has given the world. It is becoming more popular and people are giving up the use of harmful drugs that can weaken and harm the body and turn to a more holistic and life-affirming system of healing and wellbeing.
This article is part of the Great strengths of India Series.
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