Wellness - Ayurveda
A healthy person is he whose humours (Doshas) and metabolic state (Agni) are in equilibrium; whose functional activities of the tissues (Dhathus) and excretory products (Malas) are in balance, and the soul (Athma), senses (Indriya) and mind (Manas) feel well". SUSHRUTA SAMHITA (Ancient Vedic Text on the Ayurveda)
The ancient medical science of ayurveda, which is experiencing a renaissance at present, is perhaps the most sophisticated and comprehensive approach to health care the world has known. Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet and lifestyle. This balance is believed to lead to happiness and health, and to help prevent illness.
The term “Ayurveda” combines the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). Thus, Ayurveda means “the science of life.” Ayurveda concepts have to do with universal interconnectedness, the body’s constitution (prakriti), and life forces (doshas). Ayurvedic medicine holds that:
· All things in the universe (both living and non-living) are joined together
· Every human being contains elements that can be found in the universe
· Health will be good if one’s mind and body are in harmony, and one’s interaction with other beings and the universe is natural and wholesome
· Disease arises when a person is out of harmony with the universe. Disruptions can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination of these.
Prakriti is a person’s unique combination of physical and psychological characteristics and the way the body functions to maintain health. It is influenced by such factors as digestion and how the body deals with waste products. The prakriti is believed to be unchanged over a person’s lifetime. Important characteristics of the prakriti are three life forces or energies called doshas, which control the activities of the body. A person’s chances of developing certain types of diseases are thought to be related to the way doshas are balanced, the state of the physical body, and mental or lifestyle factors.
Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or functional principles that are present in everyone and everything: vata, pitta and kapha. Vata is the energy of movement, pitta is the energy of digestion or metabolism and kapha, the energy of lubrication and structure. All people have the qualities of vata, pitta and kapha, but one is usually primary, one secondary and the third is usually least prominent. The cause of disease in Ayurveda is viewed as a lack of proper cellular function due to an excess or deficiency of vata, pitta or kapha. Disease can also be caused by the presence of toxins.
Vata is the subtle energy associated with movement composed of Space and Air. It governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart, and all movements in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. In balance, vata promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety.
Pitta expresses as the body’s metabolic system made up of Fire and Water. It governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. In balance, pitta promotes understanding and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta arouses anger, hatred and jealousy.
Kapha is the energy that forms the body’s structure — bones, muscles, tendons — and provides the "glue" that holds the cells together, formed from Earth and Water. Kapha supplies the water for all bodily parts and systems. It lubricates joints, moisturizes the skin, and maintains immunity. In balance, kapha is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. Out of balance, it leads to attachment, greed and envy.
AYURVEDA AS A COMPLEMENTARY SYSTEM OF HEALING
Western allopathic medicine currently tends to focus on symptomatology and disease, and primarily uses drugs and surgery to rid the body of pathogens or diseased tissue. Many lives have been saved by this approach. However, drugs, because of their toxicity, often weaken the body. Ayurveda does not focus on disease. Rather, it maintains that all life must be supported by energy in balance. When there is minimal stress and the flow of energy within a person is balanced, the body’s natural defence systems will be strong and can more easily defend against disease.
In many instances Ayurveda can substitute Western allopathic medicine. There are also instances when the disease process and acute conditions can best be treated with drugs or surgery and Ayurveda can be used in conjunction with Western medicine to make a person stronger and less likely to be afflicted with disease and/or to rebuild the body after being treated with drugs or surgery.
Palliative and cleansing measures, when appropriate, can be used to help eliminate an imbalance along with suggestions for eliminating or managing the causes of the imbalance. Recommendations may include the implementation of lifestyle changes; starting and maintaining a suggested diet; and the use of herbs. In some cases, participating in a cleansing program, Panchakarma, is suggested to help the body rid itself of accumulated toxins to gain more benefit from the various suggested measures of treatment.