Updated: Mar 29, 2020
The name “Ayurveda” is derived from two Sanskrit works. “ayuh” meaning life or longevity, and “veda” meaning science or sacred knowledge. So, by it’s simplest definition, Ayurveda roughly tranlates as “the sacred knowledge of life”. Ayurveda is the Sister Science to Yoga. At it’s core, it is a holistic tradition and way of living that can help us discover our innate state of wellness. Ayurveda is not simply about taking a medicine or supplement and waiting for results. It requires an active participation in your own journey towards healing and finding balance. Ayurveda’s Definition of Health
Svastha is the Sanskrit word for health, and it is a state in which the mind, soul, and senses interact harmoniously to experience a greater sense of self and wellness. Ayurveda does this through intuitive and insightful tools.
The Ayurvedic perspective is an essential key to understanding the way it can impact your life. These foundations can help by:
Interpreting the laws of nature
Identifying various states of imbalance
Creating a plan for improved well-being
The Five Elements
Ayurveda believes that all things are created with the essential building blocks of nature. These include:
Everything contains all five of these elements to some degree. It is common that one or two elements comprise of the vast majority or are predominant over other.
Doshas and your Mind-Body Type
There are three doshas, or mind-body types. They are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We see the doshas not only in ourselves, but also in various seasons, climates, landscapes, activities, plants, animals, food, and so many other things. Ayurveda revolves around a system of balance and cycles. Each of these doshas embody a combination of elements and qualities to create the energetic force of nature.
Everyone has elements of all of the doshas in them, but the ratio between them varies greatly, and most people are born with an innate Dosha type, or prakriti in Sanskrit.
In addition to our innate Dosha type, each of us can develop states of imbalance within our bodies. These current imbalances, or when the Dosha accumulates in the body beyond health limits, are referred to as vikriti in Sanskrit. It is important to know that you can not only have an innate nature that involves more than one dominant Dosha type (ie Vata-Pitta) but current imbalances can also manifest in this way as well. It simply means that you have greater amounts of two different constitutional types, and a decrease in the third. The Three Energies
Vata - Ether + Air
Vata is the energy of movement and impulse, creativity and connection. In your body, it is present in your breathing, pulses, muscle movement, nerve impulses, sensory perception, communication, and our ability to experience joy and self actualization.
Pitta - Fire + Water
Pitta is the energy of digestion and transformation. It manifests in your appetite, digestion, absorption and assimilation, intelligence, charisma, and ambition.
Kapha - Earth + Water
Kapha is the energy of structure and cohesiveness, grounding and stability. In your body, Kapha can be found in nourishment, growth, lubrication, fluid balance and fat regulation, strength and stamina, our ability to feel compassion.
Your constitution influences your likes and dislikes, tendencies and habits, mental health, vulnerabilities towards different diseases and other systemic imbalances, and your mental and emotional character. So what does all of this mean?
Everyone has an innate mind-body type that they were born with. Our current imbalances are more important in understanding the way to create a sense of balance, and can help heal underlying imbalances that haven’t manifested yet. There are practices, foods, and choices that provide balance to all of the doshas. Health Benefits of Ayurveda
What issues can Ayurveda help with in terms of overall wellness? The most often discussed benefits to integrating Ayurveda into your life are:
Ayurveda treats the cause of disease, instead of the symptoms. Some of the major underlying practices address balancing your immune system and minimizing stress. Daily Routine
A daily routine is vital to feeling grounded and stable. There are many traditional elements to a daily routine, or dinacharya in Sanskrit, and these all serve the purpose of creating stability and balance.
The digestive fire, or agni, can be dramatically impacted by your diet and the food combinations you eat. Your current state of imbalance can be dramatically impacted by dietary changes or adjustments.
Exercise and Movement
The doshas respond to movement in a variety of ways. While some constitutions react well to intense workouts, other constitutions will become dramatically imbalanced as a result. Likewise, certain yoga poses will benefit one Dosha type more than others.
Beauty and Ayurveda
Ayurveda focuses on the whole being, body, mind, and spirit. That being said, they have wonderful practices for skin, hair, and beauty. The holistic approach to finding balance in your body often results in smoother skin and healthy hair and nails.
When your sleep is addressed, many things fall into place naturally. Ayurveda encourages a consistent routine, and has methods to improve waking hours by ensuring that you go to bed consistently and peacefully.
The benefits of Ayurveda as a daily lifestyle and routine, as well as its ability to identify and treat states of disease, make it the perfect compliment to discovering your own state of perfect wellness. Ayurveda can be the framework to finding your best state of wellness on your own wellness journey, whether you’re starting from a place of great imbalance or just want to find more balance in your already healthy lifestyle.