Ayurveda is the traditional natural healing system of India, dating back over 5,000 years. An ancient Sanskrit word, Ayurveda literally means “the science of life”. Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga: it is the healing side of Yoga, while Yoga is the philosophical/spiritual side of Ayurveda. Together, Yoga and Ayurveda provide a complete, holistic approach to physical well-being and emotional balance. In the simplest terms, Ayurveda views health and disease as the end result of how we interact with our environment. Harmonious interactions lead to health, while dis-harmonious interactions lead to dis-ease.
Ayurveda is based on the theory that all of nature is created of five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. In our bodies, these five elements combine in various proportions and present as three forces, or doshas. The balance of the doshas is unique in each individual and defines who we are.
The three doshas and their corresponding elements are:
- Vata (air and ether)
- Pitta (fire)
- Kapha (water and earth)
Our individual biological existence is a balance of the three doshas (and thus the five elements), and this balance is called our constitution. By understanding an individual’s constitution, we can determine where imbalances are occurring, and then apply the principles of Ayurveda to journey to optimal health. This is done by bringing the elements into balance through proper diet, proper lifestyle, Yoga, meditation, body, sound, color, and aroma therapies, and herbal remedies.
For example, if one has symptoms of excessive dryness (vata), we correct this imbalance with moisture: in foods, herbs, and lifestyle practices. With symptoms of excess heat (pitta): cooling foods and practices; and with excess earth and water (kapha): we add lightness and dryness to our routines.