What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda means the knowledge or the science of life. The word Ayurveda is a conjugation of two Sanskrit words: ayur meaning ‘life’ and veda meaning ‘knowledge’.
The science of life, Ayurveda, has been around for 5000 years and was developed in India. Ayurveda teaches the best ways to treat diseases and lead a healthy lifestyle and is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. Therefore, the three main classical Ayurvedic scriptures (known as the Great Trilogy – ‘Charaka Samhita’, Sushruta Samhita’, and ‘Astanga Hridaya’) are written in ancient Indian language, Sanskrit.
The objective of Ayurveda is to protect health of the healthy and to alleviate disorders in the diseased. Hence, it teaches selfcare protocols around diet and sleep and exercise.
Ayurveda focuses on establishing and maintaining harmony and balance of the life energies within us and not focusing on individual systems. According to Ayurveda, each individual is different therefore, ‘one size fits all’ strategy cannot be applied to everyone. Ayurveda recommends personalized approach for each one of us.
One of the major differences in Allopathy and Ayurvedic treatments is that while the former works on the symptoms, the latter gets into the root cause of the disease so that it doesn’t appear again. This is the way we can achieve true health and wellbeing in our life by eradicating the root cause of diseases and by considering the whole person as one and connection between mind and body.
Ayurveda and the body
The science of Ayurveda lists the four aspects of the body that need to be in balance in order to be healthy and these are –
- Doshas (energies)
- Dhatus (tissues)
- Agni (fire)
- Mallas (waste)
According to Ayurveda, there are five micro elements that constitute the universe called the Panch Mahabhuta and they are space, air, fire, water, and earth. In the same way we have five elements in a human body, and they are space – face / cosmic energy, air – lungs & heart, fire – digestive fire, water – urinary system and earth – reproductive energy.
These five elements form the three different doshas which in simple terms can be defined as types of energies that circulate within your body. While one dosha may be dominant, everyone is a combination of all three. The three doshas are –
- Vata which is the force of movement, activity and sensation
- Pitta which is the source of all transformative processes
- Kapha which is the body’s strength and stability
We each contain a unique mix of all three doshas. There is no good or bad dosha type. It is only in either in balance or unbalanced state. It is all about finding the ‘right balance’.
Ayurveda prescribes a diet based your dominant dosha to promote balance of the three doshas.
Dhatu is a Sanskrit word that refers to the seven building blocks that make up the human body’s physical form.
listed below are the seven dhatus in a human body –
- Rasa dhatu – this dhatu circulates nutrients, hormones and proteins throughout the body.
- Rakta dhatu – this dhatu is responsible for blood circulation in the body.
- Mamsa dhatu – this dhatu is the tissue that covers all the organs and is related to strength and stability.
- Medas dhatu – it is the storage site for excess fat in the body.
- Asthi dhatu – it gives strength and support to human body’s bones.
- Majja dhatu – it associates with nervous system and governs metabolic process in the brain and the spinal cord.
- Shukra dhatu – this is the reproductive tissue and is responsible for life, vitality and energy.
Agni in Sanskrit means fire and describes all metabolic functions in our body.
The main type of Agni in a human body is digestive fire. Healthy agni helps the digestion of the food and form strong tissues. It also prevents the build-up of Ama which is undigested food that acts as a toxin and leads to disease. This also means better conversion of foods ingested into the body tissues and better generation of energy required to carry out various tasks and provides the required nutrition to the body.
As per Ayurveda, digestive power and immune system depends on the proper functioning of the digestive fire.
The process of breaking down the food, providing required nutrition to the body will operate at its optimum level only when the Agni is functioning properly. As a result, this will help maintain proper health and wellbeing.
The body’s excretions – urine, stool and sweat are called Mallas. All three are generated from the food we consume. Passing them in a timely manner helps keep the body balanced. If not, they build up and cause diseases.
What is a health as per Ayurveda?
“Samadosha, samagnischa samadhatumala kriyaha prasanna atmenindriya manaha swasthya ityabhidheeyate”.
‘Susruta’ has described the features of a healthy person in the above quote which means that the BALANCE of three Doshas, seven Dhatus, Agni and three Malas is health, and likewise imbalance is disease.
A person where the above balance exists is called Swasta or a healthy person.
As per Ayurveda, good health & well-being can be maintained till a person is alive. Hence, for good health, one has to follow the simple principles laid down by Ayurveda.
Making an effort to shift to Ayurveda on an ongoing basis may look a bit challenging & overwhelming in the beginning but will reap huge benefits in the long run. This will surely help you to restore your balance and enhance your health and wellbeing.