Ayurveda, ancient yet timeless, gives you the means of attaining and maintaining your own optimal health and well-being. The benefits of Ayurvedic medicine have been proven over centuries of use, and its methodologies are as applicable today in the West as they were thousands of years ago in India.
Ayurveda is the traditional healing modality of the Vedic culture from India. It is said to be 2000 to 5000 years old, meaning it has stood the test of time. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that literally translates as “the wisdom of life” or “the knowledge of longevity”. In accordance with this definition, Ayurvedic medicine views health as much more than the absence of disease. The wise seers and sages of the time, intuitively understanding the physiology and workings of the mind-body-spirit long before the advents of modern medicine, explained the basic principles of Ayurveda
Basic Principles of Ayurveda
While Ayurvedic principles can be used to explain the complexity of not only health but also the world around us, there are several simple basics that become the building blocks for everything else:
- Ayurveda’s fundamental approach to well-being is that you must reach your unique state of balance in your whole being—body, mind, and spirit.
- Ayurveda views the world in light of 3 constitutional principles: vata, pitta, and kapha. These are explained in more detail below.
- The first line of defense in combating imbalances is to remove the cause of the problem. If the trouble-maker is out of the picture, the body starts being able to heal itself. For example, if pollutants are bothering your nasal passages and sinuses, rinse them out with a traditional Ayurvedic remedy, the netipot.
- If there are any lingering imbalances after removing the inciting cause, then bring balance by using opposites. For example, the Ayurvedic remedy to excess heat is to use something cooling. So for excess heat or acidity in the digestive system, you could use cooling and soothing herbs like Shatavari.
- Always support the digestive fire, so that nutrition can be absorbed and waste materials can be eliminated.
Composed of air and space, vata is dry, light, cold, rough, subtle/pervasive, mobile, and clear. As such, vata regulates the principle of movement. Any bodily motion—chewing, swallowing, nerve impulses, breathing, muscle movements, thinking, peristalsis, bowel movements, urination, menstruation—requires balanced vata. When vata is out of balance, any number of these movements may be deleteriously affected.
Pitta brings forth the qualities of fire and water. It is sharp, penetrating, hot, light, liquid, mobile, and oily. Pitta’s domain is the principal of transformation. Just as fire transforms anything it touches, pitta is in play any time the body converts or processes something. So pitta oversees digestion, metabolism, temperature maintenance, sensory perception, and comprehension. Imbalanced pitta can lead to sharpness and inflammation in these areas in particular.
Kapha, composed of earth and water, is heavy, cold, dull, oily, smooth, dense, soft, static, liquid, cloudy, hard, and gross (in the sense of dense or thick). As kapha governs stability and structure, it forms the substance of the human body, from the skeleton to various organs to the fatty molecules (lipids) that support the body. An excess of kapha leads to an overabundance of density, heaviness, and excess in the body.