Ayurveda is the traditional health care system of India, which dates back thousands of years, beyond the dawn of recorded history. The Sanskrit root "Ayu" means life, and "Veda" means pure knowledge. Ayurveda can thus be translated as the knowledge of the span of life.
The objectives of Ayurveda
To prevent or irradicate disease from the body, to prolong life and to improve quality of life, to increase youthfulness, happiness and well being.
The highest objective of Ayurveda is to develop the highest levels of human functioning in both body and mind and create 'perfect health'.
How does Ayurveda achieve these goals?
Ayurveda uses herbal medicine, programmes of daily routine - (diet, exercise, meditation, and rest), and Ayurvedic treatment programmes including massage, rejuvenation and purification treatments (Panchakarma).
The Ayurvedic definition of a healthy individual is:
"He whose doshas are in balance, whose appetite is good, whose bodily tissues are functioning normally, whose excretory functions are in balance, and whose self, mind and senses remain full of bliss, he is called a health person."
From the Ancient Ayurvedic scripture Sushruta Sutrasthanam 15,41.
The three doshas
In Ayurveda, primary attention is given to balancing the doshas, the three primary controlling principles in the physiology - Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are related to the five elements. Vata is air and space, Pitta is fire, and Kapha is water and earth. Imbalances in the doshas cause disease and dysfunction in the physiology effecting the mind, body and emotions. Balance of the doshas means that life is not allowed to go out of the field of wholeness. This is 'perfect health'.
The qualities and functions of the three doshas
The qualities are cold, light, quick, dry, moving, minute, rough and leading the other doshas.
The functions are - Represents bodily functions concerned with movement. Controls the activities of the nervous system and the processes of elimination.
The qualities are - warm, light, sharp, slightly oily, fluid and hot taste.
The functions are - Represents bodily functions concerned with heat and metabolism. Governs the digestive functions of the body.
The qualities are - cold, heavy, oily, sweet, steady, slow, soft and sticky.
The functions are - Represents the structural aspects of the physiology and is responsible for biological strength, natural tissue resistance, and proper body structure.
The seven constitutional types
Vata, Vata-Pitta, Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Kapha, Vata-Kapha, Vata-Pitta-Kapha.
The Characteristics of Vata Type
Light, thinner build
Performs activity quickly
Tendency to dry skin
Aversion to cold weather
Irregular hunger and digestion
Quick to grasp new information, also quick to forget
Tendency toward worry
Tendency toward constipation
Tendency toward light interrupted sleep
Characteristics of Pitta Type
Performs activity with medium speed
Aversion to hot weather
Sharp hunger and digestion
Medium time to grasp new information
Can't skip meals
Tendency toward irritability and temper
Enterprising and sharp in character
Prefers cold food and drink
Tendency toward reddish complexion and hair, moles and freckles
Characteristics of Kapha Type
Solid, heavier build
Greater strength and endurance
Slow, methodical in activity
Oily, smooth skin
Slow digestion, mild hunger
Tranquil, steady personality, slow to grasp new information, slow to forget
Slow to become excited or irritated
Sleep is heavy and long
Hair is plentiful, tends to be darker in colour.
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Ayurvedic consultations and treatments
For consultations with an Ayurvedic doctor, and Ayurvedic massage and rejuvenation treatments in UK visit maharishiayurveda.co.uk or telephone +44 1695 51008
Further Reading on Ayurveda