‘AYUR’- Duration Of Life
Ayurveda is the knowledge to enhance quality of life, a discipline to foster longevity.
In India, medicine has a long and distinguished history. Healers have been alleviating illnesses and fixing injuries since the dawn of humanity. Vast medical knowledge emanated from the common practices, which were prevalent and abundant in ancient India. Ayurveda’s teachings delve deep into the origins of the Universe and explain how it affects the balance between the human body and its surroundings. Each living being is made up of the same five elements of Nature (Panchmahabhutas) that make up the Universe.
Panchamahabhutas: The Five Basic Elements
According to Ayurveda, all objects in the Universe including the human body are composed of the five basic elements (Panchamahabhutas) namely, Akash (Ether), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Jala (Water) and Prithvi (Earth). There is a balanced condensation of these elements in different proportions to suit the needs and requirements of different structures and functions of the body matrix and its parts. The growth and development of the body matrix depends on its nutrition, i.e. on food. The food, in turn, is composed of the above five elements, which replenishes or nourishes the elements of the body after the action of bio-fire (Agni). The tissues of the body are the structural components whereas humours are physiological entities, derived from different combinations and permutations of Panchamahabhutas. Even within our body these elements exist in the same order. Our body is nothing but a mini-universe. How do the two correlate?
HEAD - SPACE
All this you get from space which is why it is directly connected to space and all the sense organs are located here. This is where the brain, knowledge, wisdom, righteousness exists.
LUNGS & HEART - AIR
Pranava is the breath which is very important for the body. The heart is like a motor pump that keeps pumping thanks to the pressure created by air. The chest area belongs to the element of Air.
UPPER STOMACH - FIRE
This includes the liver, gall bladder, spleen, stomach and the beginning of the intestines. This is the area where the digestive fire burns; the powerhouse. Acid is released in the stomach to keep burning the food. This acid is another form for PITTA. Therefore this area, up to the navel, belongs to the element of Fire.
LOWER STOMACH - WATER
The kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder are all a part of the water element. They help maintain the water balance in the body and therefore this area belongs to the element of Water.
GENITAL SYSTEM - EARTH
The male & female genital system, uterus, prostate gland, anal region all come under the element of Earth. This is because this is where the sperm is planted to give birth to new life on earth. This is also where all human waste is put back into the earth, therefore this area belongs to the element of Earth.
These elements combine in the human body to form 3 life forces called Doshas. They control how the body works.
Space + Air = Vata Dosha
Fire + Water(Acid) = Pitta Dosha
Water (Alkaline) + Earth = Kapha Dosha
The science of Ayurveda is all about these 3 Doshas (microelements), 7 Dhatus (tissues), 3 Malas (body excretions) and the Agni (digestive fire)
"Sama Dosha Sama Dhatu Sama Agni Mala Kriya;
Prasannatendriya manaha swasthya Ityabhideyate "
- The Dosha, Dhatu, Agni, Mala in a balanced state, along with a happy mind, soul and senses is described as good health.
Everybody inherits a unique mix of these three Doshas at the time of birth. These are known as the Prakriti Doshas. Each Dosha controls a different body function and governs how it interacts with the environment around. Ayurveda defines good health as one in which all three Doshas are in balance and are prevalent in equal parts. Therefore well-being is a consequence of maintaining a balance between these Doshas in relation to the environment around. Any imbalance manifests into what we today call disease. These imbalances are a result of incorrect lifestyle particularly stemming from the choice of food, sleep and physical activity lived out by an individual. These three factors are the three pillars of wellness in Ayurveda. The balance of these Doshas change over time based on an individual's lifestyle. This newly evolved Dosha post child birth is known as Vikriti Dosha.
(Ether + Air)
This Dosha governs the movement of the body and mind. Blood flow, breathing and thought are all controlled by this Dosha. If Vata predominates, movement and change are characteristic of your nature. Vata is the wind element. People with a predominance of Vata in their nature tend to be thin, light, and quick in thought and action. Change is a constant part of life. When Vata is balanced, they are creative, enthusiastic, and lively. But if Vata becomes excessive, they may develop anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, or irregular digestion.
Mind: Creative, quick, imaginative.
Body: Thin, light frame.
Appetite: Delicate, spontaneous, often miss meals.
Routine: Variable, spontaneous.
Temperament: Welcome new experiences, excitable, friendly, energetic.
Conversation Style: Love to talk!
Shopping Style: Buy, buy, buy.
Stress Response: What did I do wrong? Tend to blame themselves.
(Fire + Water)
This Dosha governs all the heat, metabolism and sensory perceptions within the body. Those with a predominance of the Pitta Dosha have a fiery nature that manifests in both body and mind. Pitta is the principle of transformation represented in our digestion of ideas, sensory experiences, emotions, and food. It is associated with the Fire element. People with a predominance of Pitta in their nature tend to be muscular, smart, and determined. If balanced, a Pitta is warm, intelligent, and a good leader. If out of balance, Pitta can be critical, irritable, and aggressive.
Mind: Sharp, direct, precise, discerning.
Body: Medium build, warm, muscular.
Skin: Sensitive, flush, acne-prone.
Hair: Tendency towards early greying or thinning.
Appetite: Strong, can eat just about anything, anytime.
Routine: Very precise and organized.
Temperament: Passionate, driven, courageous, strong sex drive, good leader.
Conversation Style: Speak to convey their point of view.
Shopping Style: Spend on luxury items.
Stress Response: Irritable, tendency to blame others.
(Water + Earth)
This Dosha governs the structure and lubrication of the body and mind. The water element within this is responsible for most of the protective and healing aspects of the body. Kapha is the principle of protection, nourishment, and stability. It is associated with the earth element. People with a predominance of Kapha in their nature tend to have a heavier frame, think, and move more leisurely, and are stable. When balanced, it creates calmness, sweetness, and loyalty. When excessive, Kapha can cause weight gain, congestion, and resistance to healthy change.
Mind: Detail orientated, steady, consistent.
Body: Sturdy, gain weight easily, have trouble losing it.
Skin: Smooth, oily.
Hair: Thick, oily.
Appetite: Love to eat but have a slow digestion.
Routine: Methodical and sturdy, resistant to change.
Temperament: Thoughtful, forgiving, sweet, patient, loving, content, slow moving.
Conversation Style: Simple and profound.
Shopping Style: Save.
Stress Response: I don’t want to deal with it! Withdrawn.
When all Doshas are balanced, an individual is healthy in all respects - mental, physical and spiritual; this is more than mere absence of disease, a sense of complete wellbeing.
The Body Matrix
The Body Matrix in Ayurveda is conceived as the union of body, senses, mind and soul. The living man is a conglomeration of three humours (Vata, Pitta & Kapha), seven basic tissues (Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja & Shukra) and the waste products (Mala) of the body such as faeces, urine and sweat. Thus the total body matrix comprises of the humours, the tissues and the waste products of the body. The growth and decay of this body matrix and its constituents revolve around food, which gets processed into humours, tissues and wastes. Ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation and metabolism of food have an interplay in health and disease which are significantly affected by psychological mechanisms as well as by bio-fire (Agni).
Health and Sickness
"Hita Ahitam Sukham Dukham; Ayustashcha hita Ahitam;
Manam cha yatroktam; Ayurveda Sa Ucchate"
- From Ahita (Incompatable) to the Hita (compatable); from Dukha (pain/grief) to Sukha (happiness/health) The science that measures all these values is called Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is not a medicine, its a way of life. It teaches you the right way of living; from good conduct to daily routine, to various diseases, to various herbs and herbal formulations. Health or sickness depends on the presence or absence of a balanced state of the total body matrix including the balance between its different constituents. Both the intrinsic and extrinsic factors can cause disturbance in the natural equilibrium giving rise to disease. This loss of equilibrium can happen by dietary indiscrimination, undesirable habits and non-observance of rules of healthy living. Seasonal abnormalities, improper exercise or erratic application of sense organs and incompatible actions of the body and mind can also result in creating disturbance of the existing normal balance. The treatment consists of restoring the balance of disturbed body-mind matrix through regulating diet, correcting life-routine and behaviour, administration of herbs and resorting to preventive purification and detoxification therapy (Panchkarma) and the rejuvenation therapy (Rasayana therapy)
Treatment of the disease consists in avoiding causative factors responsible for disequilibrium of the body matrix or of any of its constituent parts through the use of Panchkarma procedures, medicines, suitable diet, activity and regimen for restoring the balance and strengthening the body mechanisms to prevent or minimize future occurrence of the disease.
"Swasthasya Swasthya Rakshanam; Aaturasya Vikara Prashamanam"
- To protect the health in the healthy; to cure the disease in the diseased, is the aim of Ayurveda.The science of Ayurveda looks at the human body as one Single System and hence delivers the system of wellness from this comprehensive overview. The practice is therefore designed to maintain the balance in the balanced and bring back the balance in the imbalanced. This balance is called Wellness.