The term Ayurveda is a combination of the Sanskrit words ayur and veda. Ayur means life, while veda means science or knowledge. Thus, Ayurveda translates to ‘knowledge of life.’ Ayurvedic practices originated in India over 5,000 years ago and are the basis of many natural, holistic, and alternative healing methods that have become popular in the West. Ayurveda focuses on maintaining good health while preventing illness or diseases through sustaining a balance between your body, mind, and consciousness. This can be done by balancing the three principal life force energies. These are also called the Doshas. The Doshas are Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. Each of the Doshas is a combination of the five great elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.
Kapha is the energy that creates and maintains the structures in your body. It is a combination of Earth and Water. It holds the structure of our body’s cells and is present in our bones, muscles, and tendons. The water element of Kapha maintains our immunity, moisturizes our skin, and lubricates our joints. If Kapha is in balance, we experience forgiveness, love, and calmness. Out of balance, we experience greed, envy, and attachment.
Pitta is responsible for digestion, metabolism, and absorption in the body. This Dosha is a combination of Fire and Water. When Pitta is balanced, we are more understanding. It also fosters intelligence. Out of balance, it causes anger, hatred, and jealousy.
Vata regulates movement in our bodies. That includes everything from breathing and blinking to the movement of our muscles and tissues. It also keeps your heart beating regularly. Vata in balance encourages flexibility and creativity. If Vata is out of balance, we experience fear and anxiety.
While each person has a combination of the three Doshas in their body, one Dosha is usually more prominent, one medium, and one less prominent. This is dependent on a number of factors, including physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. When each Dosha is in balance, it expresses a healthy body and mind. When one or more is out of balance, we experience disease. Ayurveda treatments usually start with a diagnosis. Practitioners identify imbalances based on observations, physical examinations, and inferences. Once they have made a diagnosis, a cleanse or purification process is usually initiated. This is followed by treatment that could include special diets, herbal remedies, lifestyle changes, and mindfulness practices like yoga, massage therapy, and meditation.
Ayurveda is an ancient healing practice that strives to maintain health and prevent disease. Each individual has a unique combination of the three Doshas, and each Dosha could be in a different state of balance at any given moment. Thus, treatment is tailored to meet a person’s needs at any particular moment in their life.