What is Ayurveda? The holistic life science from ancient India, Ayurveda is based upon the belief of achieving health through balance of the the spirit with the emotional and physical life forces.
These life forces are guided by three major bio energies called Vata (air), Pitta (fire), and Kapha (water). Our body constitution – called the “dosha” is determined by varying degrees of these three guiding principles. Illness and disease sets in when there are imbalances in a body’s constitutional make up. For instance, there is too much or too little of one of these three life forces. One of our favorite Ayurveda retreats is The Art of Living Retreat in North Carolina.
Ayurveda considers all aspects of the person.
Ayurveda may be defined as the ‘knowledge of life.’ According to Ayurveda, health is defined by the word SWASTHA meaning – to be established in self. In order to achieve this state, Ayurveda recognized that to be disease-free alone is not enough. One should also be able to prevent diseases and also lead a progressive life in self realization. Ayurveda understands a person in his totality – body constitution, behavior, likes and dislikes.
According to Ayurveda, the living being is a combination of body, mind and soul. The body is made up of five symbolic elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space.
The manner is which these elements combine is called the Dosha. Dosha is the Ayurvedic principle and word which describes the constitution of the person. The Doshas combine together in various proportions to give seven types of constitutions. They are Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata Pitta, Pitta Kapha, Vata Kapha, Vata Pitta Kapha. No one has a pure or 100 % single constitution. The constitution one gets by birth cannot be changed. So in Ayurvedic therapy we aim to bring the original balance (what he/she had at birth) back.
The Five Ayurvedic Elements
EARTH: – Represents the solid state of matter .In modern view this may be explained as the electrons, protons neutrons which has a solid weight. In the body this element is seen in bones, muscles and other solid structures.
WATER: – Symbolizes the viscosity and flow of things. This represents the liquid state of matter. In modern view, this may be understood as the force in an atom which holds the electrons together within the atom. In the body it is seen as water, blood, and other body fluids.
FIRE: – Represents the energy in body. In body this is seen as the digestive activity, metabolism and other energy producing activities like muscle action, vision, psychological forces like emotions etc. In the modern view it’s the latent energy in an atom.
AIR: – Represents the gaseous state of matter. In the body it’s the air that we breathe, various gases produced due to digestion. In modern view it is said as the force of movements of electrons.
SPACE: – It’s the dynamic space which holds every thing else. In modern view it’s the space in between the particles in the atom .In the body it’s the space in sinus cavities, the space that hold the organs etc.
The five great elements combine together to form the Dosha which defines the constitutions of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
VATA is formed by the combination of air and ether. The most powerful and leading Dosha, Vata is motion and may be relaated to kinetic energy. The main characteristics of a Vata constitution are dryness, cold, light, mobile and rough.
Imbalance of Vata may result in constipation, dry skin, hypertension, menstrual cramps, joint pain, weight loss, acute pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and reduced appetite.
PITTA is formed by the combination of fire and water. It is the principle of energy and may be related to all bodily energies. Main characteristics are oily, hot, light and liquid.
Imbalance might lead to inflammation, acne, thirst, anger, irritability and intolerance.
KAPHA is formed by the combination of water and earth. It is the principle of stability and lubrication and may be related to the potential energy. Main characteristics are oily, cold, heavy, and stable.
Imbalance might lead to sinusitis, increased weight, asthma, allergies, diabetes, mental dullness, depression, increased sleep and slow movements.
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This article was contributed by Dr. Sanjay Khanzode, Director of Spa and Recreation, Grand Hyatt Bali