Ayurveda: The Science of Life, balance between mind, body, spirit, and social health
Ayurveda gives us the means of maintaining our health and well-being. It is natural healing that has its roots in the Vedic culture of India, and it is perceived as one of the most ancient and well-documented systems of medicine. Ayurvedic medical texts dating back several thousands of years! In Ayurveda, our health is defined as “a balance between mind, body, spirit, and social health.” Ayurveda shows us that our health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our world, mind, body, and spirit.
More than a system of healing illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It gives a body&mind of understanding to help us stay vital while achieving our entire human potential. It is a guideline on perfect daily diet routines, a way of living, behavior, and the individual use of our senses.
Understanding that all humans are part of mother nature, Ayurveda defines three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer world: movement, transformation, and structure. Known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth), these vital energies are responsible for the features of our mind and body.
Doshas, what are they exactly? In essence, the doshas are functional principles that support us to better understand ourselves, and the world around us. Each of us has an individual balance of these three energies that form our nature. For example, if Vata (Wind) is dominant in our body and mind system, we tend to be thin, light, eager, passionate, energetic, and impulsive. While Pitta (Fire) dominates in us, we perform more intense, creative, and challenge-oriented, and we have a powerful appetite for life. If Kapha (Earth) predominates, we are calm, slow in movements, easy-going, and methodical. It is important to remember that each of us has all three forces, but mainly we have one or two elements that predominate in our nature. Ayurvedic philosophy says that people are born with a particular constitution, which is called the ‘Prakriti’. The Prakriti is a unique combination of physical and psychological traits that have an influence on each individual functions.
Vata embodies the energy of movement and is therefore often associated with wind (and the air element). It is formed of the space and air elements and is held as the most influential dosha because it is the moving power behind both Pitta and Kapha. Vata is considered to promote a healthy balance between thought and emotion, fuel creativity, activity, and clear comprehension. Vata is also linked with flexibility. It governs all action in our body: the breath, the heart rate, muscle contractions, tissue movements, cellular flow, and communication throughout the brain and the nervous system.
Pitta expresses the energy of transformation and is joined with the fire element. This dosha, which is composed of the fire element, controls digestive, chemical and metabolic function, and is linked with high temperature. Pitta is neither mobile nor stable but reaches much as the warmth of a fire, or as water flows in the direction by the terrain. In a more figurative sense, pitta also governs our ability to digest not only the foodstuff but also the information, which we then use to communicate with our world. Pitta is closely related to wisdom, understanding, and the digestion of emotions and experiences.
Kapha is pure structure, form, and cohesiveness to all things, and associated primarily with the earth and water elements. Its energy promotes all processes of self-recovery and healing. Composed of the water and earth elements, Kapha is thought to endurance physical and psychological strength and stability. Kapha also promotes positive emotions like love, kindness, compassion, empathy, understanding, forgiveness, and patience. This dosha provides liquids to all cells, lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin, maintains high immunity, and protects our tissues.
For each dosha, there is a balanced and imbalance – for instance, when Vata is stable, a person is energetic and creative, but when there is too much action in the body and mind system, he or she tends to experience anxiety, sleep problems, constipation, and difficulty concentrating. It also tends to cause fear, isolation, loneliness, exhaustion, and disrupt proper communication.
If Pitta is balanced, that person is friendly and disciplined, while it is out of balance, Pitta causes fiery emotions such as anger, frustration, jealousy, and criticism. Imbalanced Pitta is often at the root of inflammatory disorders, which can affect organs and tissues throughout the body.
If Kapha is balanced, a person is kind, stable, and supportive, yet when out of balance, Kapha triggers emotions of greed and possessiveness, and can also create stubbornness, physically tends to invite stagnation and congestion in organs and tissues throughout the body—including the mind, so a person may feel lethargy.
Ayurveda, like all holistic health systems, maintains connections between the mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda extends far beyond the individual, reaching into the universal energies. All things in the universe are connected together. Everything in the universe is composed of the same five elements: water, space, air, fire, and earth (solid) and there is a profound connection between the self and the world.
We are all initially connected within ourselves and this balanced connection guarantees good health. We remain healthy if we retain balance. Still, our balance is usually interrupted by our lifestyles. Our diet, plan of our exercise, work, and relationships all have the potential to produce physical or emotional imbalances. A lack of harmony makes us more sensitive to all diseases.
We all are responsible for our decisions and actions. By following Ayurvedic recommendation, we can achieve and maintain good health if we make fair life choices that promote