What is Ayurveda? Ayurveda directly translates to the science of life and it is a form of traditional Indian medicine that has been used for thousands of years. Ayurveda is a holistic form of medicine that both treats and prevents disease as well as promoting wellness through diet, herbs and lifestyle. It is considered to be the sister science to yoga, and follows many of the same principles and ideals that yoga does.
The practice of Ayurveda is based upon the knowledge derived from the Atharva veda, which is one of the vedas, the ancient hindu scriptures. Charaka Samhita describes all aspects of Ayurvedic medicine and Sushruta Samhita describes the Science of Surgery in these texts. Both these legendary compilations are still used by practitioners of traditional medicine.
Ayurveda believes we are all microcosms of the macrocosm, therefore we contain all of the elements within us. We typically contain two predominant elements though, considered to be our doshas. There are three doshas in Ayurveda, all containing two different elements. There is vata, which is air and space, pitta which is fire and water and kapha which is earth and water. One or two doshas tend to make up our constitution, which determines much of our behaviors, personality, body types and functions. When different elements become more predominant in the body through change of seasons, eating patterns or certain lifestyle behaviors, our doshas can become imbalanced. All mental and physical disorders in the body are associated with a particular dosha imbalance in Ayurveda, and can be balanced with herbs, diet and lifestyle practices that have opposite qualities of our imbalances.
Ayurvedic medicine involves diet herbs and lifestyle for wellness promotion, disease prevention and treatment. Ayurvedic treatment plans are highly individualized and are based around a person's predominant doshas. The different doshas all have specific gunas, or qualities and to balance doshic imbalances, you need a treatment plan that contains opposite qualities as the imbalanced dosha. There are also a variety of body treatments involved in Ayurveda including nasya, kati basti, shirodhara and panchakarma all aimed at treating different ailments.
Ayurveda promotes deep self care and reverence for your body, mind and spirit. Daily routines or dinacharya, are very important practices of caring for the mind and body. Profound commitment to taking care of our entire being is a large part of an Ayurvedic lifestyle and is encouraged for good overall health.
Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic approach to obtaining health and treating disease. It reminds us of our integral relationship with nature and helps us to achieve health by synching back up with the cycles of the earth and elements. It is a healing science that offers us the gift of a clear mind, healthy body and strong spirit.