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What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, often known as Ayurvedic medicine, is a natural medicine system that originated in India more than 3000 years ago. The term Ayurveda is derived from Sanskrit words Ayur, meaning “life” and Veda, meaning “knowledge.” Thus, Ayurveda means “knowledge of life.” Ayurveda encourages various lifestyle interventions and natural remedies to help you regain your balance between your body, mind, spirit, and environment based on beliefs that diseases are always caused due to body imbalances or stress in a person’s consciousness.
Ayurvedic medicine is an example of a well-organized system of traditional healthcare and medicine that is widely practiced today in parts of Asia. It is believed to be both preventive and curative. Ayurveda is a popular health form in large parts of the Eastern world, particularly in India, where a large percentage of the population implements this approach by combining it with modern medicine.
Ayurveda has thoroughly explored the natural methods for improving body and mind wellness. Ayurveda continues to evolve with the discoveries of new diseases. Ayurveda believes that illness does not appear to be the same for all. Sickness will vary depending on how individual bodies respond and display the symptoms.
In simple words, Ayurveda involves learning about your relationship with the elements and with unique combinations they form known as doshas, which we will explore later in the article. First, let’s begin with a brief history of Ayurveda.
History of Ayurveda
Ayurveda has been practiced in ancient India for the last five thousand years during the Vedic period. According to Hindu mythology, Ayurveda is attributed to Dhanvantari, a physician to the gods, who received it from Brahma. Its earliest concepts of Vedic philosophy were revealed In the Atharvaveda (c. 2nd millennium BCE).
There are various magical practices in the Vedas for treating diseases and removing the demons that are supposed to cause it.
Ayurveda flourished as Vedic texts were taught and shared. However, this followed a thousand year struggle to remain relevant in the wake of India’s political struggles with its invading countries—particularly the British Empire.
Despite this tension, people continued practicing Ayurveda and that helped keep the Ayurvedic tradition alive until 1947 when India gained independence. After that, Ayurveda once again resurfaced as one of the major healthcare systems in India, and it remains one today.
Moreover, ancient rishis, or seers of truth, practiced various disciplines to seek the truth. With the help of meditation, they manifested truth in their daily lives. The Ayurvedic health approach is based on the intellectual, religious, and practical experiences of great sages.
In addition, ancient wisdom texts called Vedas provide ample evidence of Ayurveda’s historical relevance. The Atharva Veda (written over 10,000 years ago) depicts Ayurveda as a system that helps people maintain their health by practicing natural principles that help them bring themselves back from imbalance and reconnect with their true self.
What are the three Doshas?
In Ayurveda, each person is born with a set of characteristics known as their Prakruti. Prakruti comprises three Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
These Doshas have a close connection to the natural elements. Ayurveda builds the world around us and inside of us from five fundamental building blocks: earth, fire, water, air, and space (or ether).
Vata is the energy of Air and Ether. It is often described as creative, intense, or expressive. Its attributes are dry, light, cold, and rough.
Pitta is the regulating and managing energy of Fire. Pitta is most often described as intelligent, happy, and motivated. The attributes include strong, hot, fluid, and mobile.
Kapha refers to the energy of Earth and Water. Kapha is described as calm, loving, or lethargic. Its attributes include wet, heavy, smooth, and static.
The tridosha are responsible for human emotions such as fear, anger, and greed, as well as higher emotions like love, compassion, and understanding. Therefore, the three tridoshas are responsible for a balanced individual—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Ayurveda empowers us with the knowledge that we can heal ourselves. Ayurvedic health care practitioners integrate the following principles of Ayurveda to provide effective health care and prevent disease.
Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda:
- The TriGunas – Human personality is the result of the Trigunas (Satva, Rajas, and Tamas).
- The Pancha Mahabhutas – Panchamahabhuta are the five elements that we can see and feel in the universe. As per Ayurveda, everything in nature is composed of these elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space.
- The Tridoshas – In Ayurveda, “dosha” refers to every human being’s bio-energy. The Three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
- The Sapta Dhatus – Rasa (fluid) Dhatu, Rakta (blood) Dhatu, Mamsa Dhatu, Meda (fat) Dhatu, Asthi Dhatu, Majja Dhatu, and Sukra Dhatu are the seven types of body tissues.
- The Trayodosa Agni – There are thirteen different forms of digestive fires, including stomach fire (Jatharagni), Sapta Dhatagni, and Panch Bhutagni.
- The Trimalas – Price (feces), Mutra (urine), and Sveda (sweat) are the three types of bodily wastes.
Ayurveda for Everyday Life
Ayurveda is an art of living in harmony with the laws of nature. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural and holistic medicine that promotes a balanced life through healthy and natural lifestyle changes. The ancient wisdom contained in Ayurveda is still relevant today. Ayurveda and its principles can easily be adapted for today’s fast-paced world to maintain and lead a healthy, stress-free, and balanced life.
Ayurveda focuses on three areas: healing, prevention, and medical care. Medical care includes maintaining good health as well as rejuvenation and methods of achieving longevity. Ayurvedic home remedies can be effective in treating various ailments, but the main focus is on prevention as it is easier to maintain health than it is to restore it once it’s in disarray.
Ayurveda places great emphasis on Sathya (lifestyle), eating habits, and daily routine; it also encourages adapting your lifestyle to suit the environment and incorporating Ayurvedic products and medicinal herbs to lead a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating Ayurveda into your daily life doesn’t require a major lifestyle change. Small and simple things like choosing natural or organic ingredients versus chemically-treated products and foods can get the job done.
Additionally, moving from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active lifestyle with routine exercise such as walking can go a long way towards keeping you healthy and fit. Fresh juice instead of canned or preservative-laden products and meals consisting of seasonal, fresh vegetables can block the creation of ama, or toxins, in the body. This will keep a person active and fresh throughout life.
Aside from these suggestions, Ayurveda also recommends drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This helps flush harmful toxins out of the body and prevents indigestion. You can get instant relief from indigestion with some simple remedies and a proper Ayurvedic diet.
An Ayurvedic diet provides a set of guidelines that encourage mindful eating. It also promotes consuming foods that are appropriate for your dosha (constitution type). The energy in each dosha helps determine what to eat to improve wellness. Food choices can prevent or control disease, as well as maintain overall health and wellbeing.
Ayurvedic medicine helps in creating a healthy and strong body as well as immunity through a range of lifestyle, exercise, and diet practices, including sleep, intuitive eating, and mindful living. During an Ayurvedic diet regime, you consume whole or minimally processed foods. In addition, you practice mindful eating rituals; these rituals improve health and promote weight loss.
One of the key features of an Ayurvedic diet is that you should eat according to your dominant dosha or constitution. Your dosha can be considered your most important energy. Once you have understood each of the doshas, you may find that one sounds more like the qualities that you embody. Many people find that they have two powerful doshas.
Before starting any Ayurvedic diet, you need to know your dominant dosha.
Ayurvedic doctors and naturopaths believe that each of us embodies all three doshas, although your prominent dosha dictates what you eat. No matter what your dosha is, you should follow basic Ayurvedic nutrition practices, which include:
- Consume a mix of foods that contain six flavors including sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy, and astringent.
- Start your meal with sweet foods (such as fruit).
- Follow it by salty foods (such as seafood) and sour (such as citrus fruits).
- Finish it with spicy foods (onions or peppers, for example), astringent foods (like green apples), and bitter foods (celery, kale, or some green leafy vegetables).
- Eat with attention and focus. Avoid talking, laughing, and other distractions to fully appreciate your food and the health benefits it offers.
- Eat slowly enough so that you can enjoy the taste of your food.
- Eat fast enough so the food doesn’t get cold.
- Eat the right amount of food. Watch for hunger and satiety signals to avoid overeating.
- Only eat after you’ve digested your previous meal. The guidelines suggest that you do not eat within three hours of your previous meal or snack, but go no more than six hours without eating.
- Focus on breakfast and lunch. Eat a modest breakfast and a more filling and substantial lunch. You can have dinner or skip it based on your hunger level.
Health Benefits of Ayurveda
At its basic core, Ayurveda is a holistic tradition and a lifestyle that can assist each of us to achieve natural well-being. Ayurveda can help us:
- Synchronize with our true inner nature
- Honor and develop our strengths
- Boost immunity
- Prevent the onset of diseases and ailments
- Help you get your body and mind healthy to live a fulfilled and balanced life
- Improve quality of life and increase one’s life span
- Minimize inflammation and detoxify the body.
Ayurveda isn’t a “magic pill.” In other words, Ayurveda is not as simple as taking herbal supplements and waiting for the results. But it empowers you to be an active participant in your journey to healing.