Ayurveda: The Science of Life

Image by Annie Spratt

Image by Annie Spratt

Both body and mind are the location of disorders as well as pleasures. The balanced use is the cause of pleasures.
— Caraka Samhita Ch 1 : V 55

 Ayurveda: What is it and how can it support me?

Ayurveda is the ancient medical practice of India that dates approximately 5,000 years old. The word Ayurveda translates into English as ‘The Science of Life’, or ‘The Wisdom of Life’ as the root word Ayus pertains to Life and Veda is Knowledge. This medical system was born of the great Rishi’s, or Seers, desire to help eliminate disease among men and alleviate suffering. These devoted Rishi’s sat upon the Himalayan mountains and asked for the Divine knowledge that would help heal human maladies and it is here that they downloaded what we now understand as Ayurveda.

This wisdom was bestowed upon them and they began to share their wisdom with disciples. These disciples then became teachers and shared it with their disciples. This oracular tradition continued for thousands of years until a disciple finally began to write it down. Though some doubt that Caraka was the first disciple to write out the wisdom, he most certainly expounded on what was already provided and created the most well known and comprehensive Ayurvedic text known as the Caraka Samhita (quoted above).

The Caraka Samhita is both at time capsule and a modern approach to healing the mind, body, and spirit and because of the validity and study of this text Ayurveda is often cited as being the ‘Mother of Modern Medicine’ as it has positioned itself as the oldest organized medicine system in the world.

Pretty amazing, right?

Ayurveda’s approach is a holistic one just as its name might imply. When an individual begins to learn and apply Ayurvedic principles to their routines and practices they are tending to their life in its entirety. This includes physical well-being, mental & emotional stability, along with spiritual nourishment to promote longevity, peace of mind, and a life created around balance and moderation.

In Western medicine it is hard to ignore the fact that we like to dive in and treat the symptoms instead of finding the root cause. This is where Ayurveda can profoundly support deep and lasting healing in the body as we are guided to go straight for the root cause; which, is often found in the energetic body and is manifesting through the physical form. Whatever imbalance (dis-ease) an individual is experiencing can then be treated with herbals, energetic therapies, and bodywork and then maintained with lifestyle adjustments designed for their unique body.

The Elements are Your Building Blocks

You are a microcosm of the macrocosm. Within each of us is a complete mirror of nature and Her five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space). The magic and mystery of our individual existence arises in how we each are born with our own unique expression of these elements and this is called your constitution or prakruti. Your elemental makeup at birth is like your cosmic fingerprint and your makeup provides you with all the strengths and challenges that you need in this lifetime to live out your purpose (dharma) and learn your life lessons to move closer to your Highest Self (karma).

The five elements of Nature come together in pairs to create what is called a Dosha. A dosha is a biological energy and helps the individual to understand their elemental nature through qualities. Vata dosha is comprised of Air and Ether; Pitta dosha is Fire and Water; while Kapha dosha is Earth and Water.

An individuals constitution may have a single dominant dosha and relate with being a Vata, Pitta, or Kapha.

Or, they may be dual doshic and experience the elements in their bodies as being Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, Pitta-Vata, Pitta-Kapha, Kapha-Vata, or Kapha-Pitta.

It is also possible to be tri-doshic which is the equal expression of all three doshas.

No matter what your dominant dosha type is, it is important to remember that you are all three doshas no matter their combination within you and have access to their gifts and challenges at any time. You may also find that you will meet many others with your same dosha combination but none of you will express your constitution the same- because remember, you are a radically unique divine fingerprint!

Your unique constitution is life changing to know and understanding because it will help to inform the lifestyle choices that will encourage longevity, it provides suggestions for the types of food that will nourish instead of tax the body, and lays a roadmap of ways to keep all levels of the being balanced, content, and thriving.

When the Elements go awry

Dis-ease is caused in the body and mind when one or more of our elements becomes aggravated. The easiest way to visual this is that within you is a perfectly proportionate amount of each dosha. Lets take a Tri-dosha constitution as an example: a tri-dosha individual has equal parts of each dosha. But if that person begins to engage in activities, eat foods, exercise, or have experiences that is heavy in, lets say, the fire element that person is going to begin increasing their Pitta dosha within their body and mind. That increase of Pitta can begin to manifest in mental imbalances like feeling frustrated, becoming OCD and controlling, or anger. It could also manifest in the body as heartburn or acidity, skin rashes, or adrenal fatigue. These are just a few examples and for just one dosha.

If left unattended the excess dosha can lead to more serious dis-ease like auto-immune disorders, chronic illness, and cancers.

This is why understanding your elemental make up and how imbalances are manifesting in your body puts you back in the drivers seat of your health. No one can feel and know every nuance of your bod and mind but you and by being able to recognize the doshas, their qualities, and how they are expressing in your life can help you prevent serious disease from ever manifesting.

And prevention is always the main goal of living and practicing Ayurveda. We can treat and assist the body back to balance once it is knocked off center a bit, but truly you can become so knowledgeable and intuitive about your life you can be two steps ahead in any situation.

Because lets face it, modern life will create imbalances in our lives. We will experience hard things and be exposed to toxins, pathogens, and emotionally traumatizing situations. But Ayurveda provides an extensive toolbox that prevents these things from owning your life and determining your destiny. That my friend, is up to you!

Want to learn more?

Check out the Dosha Guides

Read the Ayurveda F.A.Q

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