Ayurveda (आयुर्वेद)

Ayurveda means “The Science of Life.”

Ayurveda (ai·uh·vei·duh) is considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means “The Science of Life.” Ayurvedic knowledge originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is often called the “Mother of All Healing.”

The ancient Indian medical system, also known as Ayurveda, is based on ancient writings that rely on a “natural” and holistic approach to physical and mental health. Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and remains one of India’s traditional health care systems.

Ayurveda therapies have varied and evolved over more than two millennia. Therapies combined products (mainly derived from plants) include medicines, special diets, meditation, yoga, massage, laxatives, enemas, and medical oils.

Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create this balance of body, mind and consciousness according to one’s own individual constitution and how to make lifestyle changes to bring about and maintain this balance.

The Three Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or functional principles that are present in everyone and everything. There are three main dosha and each is made from a combination of the elements; these being Vata (space or air, equated with the nervous system), Pitta (fire or water equated with enzymes) and Kapha (earth and water, equated with mucus). These principles can be related to the basic biology of the body.

Ayurvedic tradition holds that imbalance among the bodily and mental doshas is a major etiologic component of disease.

In the physical body, vata is the subtle energy of movement, pitta the energy of digestion and metabolism, and kapha the energy that forms the body’s structure.

All people have all of these three doshas, but one of them is usually primary, one secondary, and the third least prominent. Thus, each person has a particular pattern of energy, an individual combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics that make up his or her constitution. Just as everyone has an individual fingerprint, so everyone has an energy print—a balance or proportion of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—that is uniquely his or her own.