What is Ayurveda?
The Sanskrit term Ayurveda translates to “knowledge of life.” Its ancient wisdom remind us that the entire web of life is intricately interwoven. With a unique emphasis on total wellness, the art and science of Ayurveda work to harmonize our body and mind via herbs, therapuetics, diet, daily habits, lifestyle and environment.
Our five senses serve as the portals between the internal and external. The five elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth continually create, maintain and dissolve cells and functions in our bodies. Ayurveda groups these five elements into three basic types of energy and functional principles that are present in everybody and everything. Since there are no single words in English to describe these principles; we use the Sanskrit words Vata, Pitta, and Kapha to describe their combinations.
Everything that we experience, be it a physical substance, a thought, or emotion, has certain qualities. The ancient texts of Ayurveda classify these qualities — called gunas in Sanskrit — into 10 pairs of opposites, making 20 qualities total (for example, heavy vs. light). Theoretically, everything in the universe can be described in terms of these gunas, or qualities, including the doshas. The foundation of Ayurvedic treatment relies upon recognizing when gunas have become excessive or deficient, as this is known to cause imbalance and lead to disease. Ayurveda applies the opposite qualities to return to balance.
Agni is the heat of our digestive fire which metabolizes food into bodily tissue and waste; discerning between nutritious material and waste product. Ayurveda kindles the agni of the body to digest toxins which have manifested due to internal or external stresses, ensuring optimal functioning of the physical and mental being.
Leveraging the basic principles above, Ayurveda customizes preventative wellness to the unique constitution of every individual. In addition, ancient Ayurvedic doctors produced detailed descriptions of acute and chronic conditions (complete with causes, signs, and symptoms), and developed extensive holistic treatment protocols. Preventative care and treatment of disease falls under Ayurveda’s eight branches, which include:
● Kaayachikitsa – Internal Medicine
● Baalachikitsa – Pediatrics
● Bhuta Vidya – Psychiatry
● Shalakya Tantra – Ear, Nose and Throat Treatment
● Shalya Tantra – Surgery (not practiced in the United States today)
● Vishagara Vairodh Tantra – Toxicology
● Jarachikitsa/Rasayana – Geriatrics and Rejuvenation
● Vajikarana — Aphrodisiac Therapy, Fertility, and Conception
In addition, Ayurveda offers one of the world’s most comprehensive cleansing protocols, known as panchakarma. This ancient practice uses five primary therapies to release and eliminate accumulated toxins from deep within the tissues, and return the doshas to their proper functions in the body.
Ayurveda offers renewed access to our natural intelligence. As the original circadian medicine, it holds the key to resolving dis-ease and living healthy with longevity.