There is a joke amongst us Ayurvedic practitioners about the first reaction we get when asking people about Ayurveda. The general answer is “Ayurveda what?” Yes indeed – what the dickens is Ayurveda? Spending a few minutes reading this little introduction may just change the way you view health.
What does Ayurveda mean?
The word Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit language of two words that translates to “Ayu” or life and “Veda” or wisdom. It is often referred to as the “Science of Life” or “wisdom of life”, a holistic system of preventive medicine and health care system that was developed in India over 5000 years ago. This alternative and complementary medical system came about from a combination of herbal medicine, philosophy, daily experiences and scientific observations.
There are several parts to this art of healing that include herbs, several types of “spa like” and therapeutic treatments including massages, diet and nutrition, Eastern psychotherapy, healing music, herb-infused clothing, vastu (like feng shui), colour therapy, astrology, meditation and yoga – the sister science of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda and balance
The main focus of Ayurveda is balance. It is based on balancing the five elements of nature i.e. space, air, fire, water and earth – that are present in the human body as “doshas” or bodily humors. It works to co-ordinate the functioning of the body with the same cosmic rules present in the universe. The Sun, Moon and Wind together make the five elements in the universe while Vata, Pitta, Kapha reside in the human body as their equivalent. To achieve a balance every person should live according to their mind-body constitution or “Prakrti”. This constitution is a state of balance of their predominant elements or dosha. Any change of this state creates imbalance which ultimately result in illnesses.
Ayurveda and treating a person as an individual
Everyone is different as no two people are the same. Ayurveda understands this individual “uniqueness” and works holistically with this in mind. It uses physical, psychological and spiritual therapies to bring balance. Best of all, kowledge of Ayurveda can be used in self care to stay healthy.
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