Introduction to Ayurveda
Ayu means life and Veda means knowledge, and so Ayurveda is often referred to as the “Science of Life” – however it is more an instruction for enhancing life and is both a living system of medicine and one of the oldest continuously practiced in the world.  Ayurveda is the traditional health system in India and is more than 5,000 years old.  It uses a constitution based model (the doshas) for determining your state of health.

Thousands of years ago, India’s Rishis and seers observed the rhythms of the universe and the interaction of the flow of energy throughout the body/mind during deep states of meditation – these insights form the basis of Ayurveda and were documented in ancient Indian texts such as the CharakaSamhita.

The Ayurvedic perception of digestion is summed up in the term ‘Jatharagni’. In the simplest possible sense this can be interpreted as ‘Digestive Fire’  (Jathar = the digestive tract ; Agni = fire). When it is working well it has an enzymatic type of action, whereby the processing of foods is complete and the metabolism is balanced, ensuring the efficient working of all the body systems.

However, if the agni is weak this results in the production of ama (toxic waste).

In Ayurveda ama implies anything that is in a state of incomplete transformation. Specifically, in Ayurvedic treatment, it refers to a toxic by-product of improper or incomplete digestion.

Daily Routine
Ayurveda credits a consistent daily routine with maintaining balanced physical, mental and emotional health. According to their body type, seasonal and environmental factors, a person can avoid illness by implementing regular habits that span from morning to evening. When one performs these habits, the body falls into its natural biorhythms and biological patterns. For example, if one wakes at sunrise, their body will align with sun energy which helps to balance and regulate their metabolic system.

Food as Medicine
We constantly refer to the importance of diet in the Ayurvedic approach to treatment.  There can be occasions where herbal medicines are not considered appropriate, such as interaction with other medications, or simply in the case of aversion. At such times, food itself can become the medicine.

The Doshas

Dosha is a Sanskrit word meaning the one which can pollute the body, however all three are needed to create balance in the body. If one is too low or too high this produces imbalance. So this aggravation is called Vikriti and the balanced, innate state is called Prakriti.

The Tridoshasbasic concepts
Ayurveda’s concept of the Tridoshas is unique to medical science. Ayurveda says the body is made up of tissues (dhatus), waste products (malas), and doshas (loosely translated to Energetic Forces). It is the Tridoshas’ job to assist with the creation of all of the various tissues of the body and to remove any unnecessary waste products from the body. It is also the Tridoshas that influence all movements, all transformations, all sensory functions, and many of the other activities in the human body and mind.

The Vatadosha is the most important of the three doshas. This is for two reasons. First, if Vata becomes imbalanced for long enough and sufficiently enough, it can also cause the other two doshas (Pitta or Kapha) to become imbalanced. It can even cause both Pitta and Kapha to become imbalanced; this is called a Tridoshic imbalance and is the most difficult to overcome. Secondly, Vata is the main driver or mover of the body, including the other two doshas, all the tissues (dhatus) and all of the waste products (malas).

Pitta dosha
The Pitta dosha is associated with fire or heat. Wherever there is transformation, there is Pitta (doing its job). Whether it is in the GI tract, liver, skin, eyes or brain doesn’t matter, for these are all locations where Pitta works.

Kapha is the heaviest of the three doshas. It provides the structures and the lubrication that the body needs. These qualities help to counterbalance Vata’s movement and Pitta’s metabolism. A big, heavyset football play or wrestler is a person with a predominance of Kapha.

Because by learning how to balance the Tridoshas, the following goals can likely be achieved:

Prevention of many diseases before they take hold (In other words, keep healthy folks healthy)

In many cases, slowing down or reversing the disease process (particularly the case in many auto immune disorders)

Assistance in becoming totally healthy: physically, mentally, and spiritually (In other words, maximize your full potential)

What is really nice about Ayurveda is that learning to balance the Tridoshas is easy. Much of Ayurveda is common sense; it is based upon the laws of nature. The tools one uses to balance the Tridoshas are lifestyle management and the proper nutritional protocols.

Ayurveda goes into great detail explaining all of these different aspects of the body, how the functioning of the body can go wrong, and what to do in order to correct the problem. Likewise, it also explains how each individual can create a customized nutritional protocol and lifestyle plan that can prevent disorders from occurring in the first place.

What is the Normal State of the Tridoshas?
When the Tridoshas are balanced, the individual experiences health on all levels: mental, physical and spiritual. This is much more than the mere absence of disease.

The following areas help to define what Ayurveda considers as health.

Happiness – sense of well being

Emotions – evenly balanced emotional states

Mental Functions – good memory, comprehension, intelligence, and reasoning ability

Senses – proper functioning of eyes, ears, nose, taste, and touch

Energy – abundant mental & physical energy to perform

Digestion – easy digestion of food and drink

Elimination – normal elimination of wastes: sweat, urine, feces and others

Physical Body – healthy bodily tissues, organs, and systems

Ayurveda describes three fundamental mind/body types, or doshas, called Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which embody different combinations of the five elements : air, ether, fire, water and earth. Each of us contain all doshas to varying degrees, and their balance can be determined through examination of your eyes, nails, tongue, skin, voice, by pulse diagnosis, and through the insight of the Ayurvedic practitioner. Because the five elements exist in us and in nature, your doshas can become aggravated or imbalanced due to inappropriate or inadequate diet, change of seasons, climate or lifestyle, and result in disease in the body.

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