What is Ayurveda?

October 6, 2015

 

Ayurveda is the traditional system of medicine from India and the sister science of yoga.  It’s origin dates back at least 5,000 years and is the oldest system of medicine known today. Ayurveda’s principles are rooted in nature and are universal, helping people find well being for centuries.

 

The word Ayurveda translates as “knowledge and wisdom of life”.  This science is not just a means to address illness, but a system of how to live to maintain balance and good health.  Health is defined as the well being of mind, body and spirit, understanding that all three are intricately related and dependent upon one another.  What we think and feel affects the physical body and what we put into our body not only effects our physical health but our mental, emotional and spiritual well being. Ayurveda’s goal is to create harmony on all levels, bringing the complete self back to balance.

 

What makes Ayurveda unique? This practice addresses the whole self (mind, body, spirit), focuses on the root cause of imbalance rather than simply addressing symptoms and recognizes that each individual is unique in their journey towards healing .

 

How does Ayurveda work?  From an Ayurvedic perspective, we are made up of energy from the 5 elements found in nature: earth, water, fire, air and ether (space).  While we possess all 5 elements, each individual has their own unique constitution or combination of these elements known as “doshas”. There are 3 doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Known as mind-body types, the doshas express particular patterns of energy—unique blends of physical, emotional, and mental characteristics. Doshas are made up of the elements and elements all have specific qualities.  When symptoms arise, these qualities become out of balance to our own nature.  

 

 

Vata is composed of air and space and takes on the qualities of dry, light, cold, rough, subtle and mobile. Vata regulates the principle of movement. Any motion in the body- chewing, swallowing, nerve impulses, breathing, muscle movements, thinking, peristalsis, bowel movements, urination and menstruation - requires a balanced vata. Vata also gives us creativity and enthusiasm for life.

 

Examples of Imbalance: excessive feeling of cold, dryness in the bowels: constipation, gas and bloating; weight loss, fatigue, insomnia, pain, headaches, nervous system disorders, anxiety, confusion and poor memory.

 

Pitta is composed of fire and some water and takes on the qualities of hot, sharp, light, mobile and oily. The main principle of pitta is transformation. Just as fire transforms anything that is placed in it, pitta takes part in any converting and processing the body performs. It is responsible for our digestion, metabolism, temperature maintenance, sensory perception and comprehension. Pitta helps us manage stress and gives us our drive and determination.

 

Examples of Imbalance: intensity in personality including anger and rage, inflammation, infection, acidity, fever, excessive thirst and hunger.

 

Kapha is composed of earth and water, adding the qualities of heavy, cold, dull, oily, smooth, dense, static and liquid. Kapha governs stability and structure, so it forms the substance of the human body, from the bones to fatty molecules that support the body. Kapha enables us to feel stable, nurtured and grounded.

 

Examples of Imbalance: mucous, lethargy, water retention, weight gain, nausea, cold extremities, depression and dullness in the mind.

 

 

 

How Can Ayurveda Help?  Ayurveda assesses the imbalanced or excessive qualities (or doshas) in the body (including the mind) and brings opposing qualities to the body creating balance.  Diet, healthy eating habits, herbs, yoga, meditation, lifestyle changes, body therapies, aromatherapy, essential oils and other natural remedies are used to help the body heal from within and return to homeostasis (a balanced internal environment).

 

Why See An Ayurvedic Practitioner? A practitioner with an extensive knowledge of Ayurveda, will assess your constitution and the nature of your imbalances, creating a unique treatment program to help you regain and maintain health and harmony on all levels.  A practitioner is a support person and an educator to empower you to greater well being naturally.

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Nikki Estes CAP, E-RYT, YACEP

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