AN INTRODUCTION TO AYURVEDA
WHAT IS AYURVEDA?
Ayurveda, a branch of Vedic Science, literally means “the science of life” and it originated in India as the traditional healing system over 5,000 years ago. Considered one of the oldest forms of medicine, this ancient science works as both preventative & curative medicine, combining daily self-care, healthy diet, yoga and a natural lifestyle as a means to acquire optimal health.
Ayurveda is the fundamental root of traditional Chinese Medicine and even the Buddha, himself, utilized Ayurvedic remedies. In India today, there are Ayurvedic medical schools training physicians in internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, pediatrics, toxicology & gerontology.
What makes Ayurveda practical is that it is not necessary to attend Ayurvedic medical school in order to understand or implement Ayurvedic knowledge into your daily life. According to Ayurveda, we create our state of health based on how we interact with our environment. By making choices that support our inner nature we can live harmoniously and in balance.
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WHAT ARE DOSHAS?
There are 3 constitutions (body compositions) in Ayurveda: vata dosha, pitta dosha, and kapha dosha. These three doshas are comprised of the natural elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Everything living has these five elements within it, as well as, all 3 doshas. However, every living being has its own unique constitution (blend of these elements) and thus the doshas. For example, a person may have more fire within them if they are a natural born leader compared to another person that has more of the water element and prefers to act as loving support for those around them. The amount of each dosha within you is the framework for your body type, personality, and life experience.
Doshas may be in or out of balance based on many factors. The time of day, the current season, your stage of life, the daily lifestyle choices that you make, all are constantly affecting the doshas. Ayurveda provides us with helpful self-care practices which allow us to create a harmonious external world that will facilitate healing not only physically but also deep within our beings.
Once the foundations of Ayurveda are understood, it is quite simple to begin looking at what life throws at us through an Ayurvedic lens. ‘Why am I reacting this way?’ ‘Why does my skin feel drier in the winter versus the spring?’ ‘Why am I having trouble sleeping?’ ‘Why is my skin more sensitive than others?’ All of these questions can be answered through understanding your Ayurvedic constitution or dosha.
The term Ayurvedic constitution refers to the unique blend of doshas that comprise your body, mind & emotions. Some of us may have one predominant dosha that rules our constitution and others may be considered dual doshic or even tri-doshic. The beauty about Ayurveda is that it does not believe in a “one size fits all” prescription for health & wellness. Instead, it looks at each person as an individual with a unique expression of the elements. It sees negative tendencies, symptoms, or disease as an indicator of a person moving away from their natural balance or prakruti.
Vikruti is the opposite of prakruti. It is when you are experiencing an imbalance in your body, mind, or emotions. Any imbalance signifies that one or more of your doshas are out of alignment. The state of vikruti happens when you are experiencing a tiny blemish to a much greater imbalance like chronic cystic acne. Doshic imbalances and symptoms notify us to make changes in our current state of being to return doshas to their ideal state of balance or prakruti.
Ayurveda provides us with a multitude of daily practices, food guidelines, herbal remedies, and body therapies to help us create a harmonious existence that will facilitate healing not only physically and mentally, but also deep within our beings.