What is Ayurveda?

The History and Ancient Art of Ayurveda

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! This week as we head to India, we would like to discuss the history and ancient art of Ayurveda. We will also cover the principles, benefits, and uses of Ayurveda. 

Sunrise over India
Photo by Pixabay.

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a system of medicine that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. In India, Ayurveda is considered a form of medical care. 

The concepts of universal interconnectedness, the body’s constitution, and life forces are the primary basis of traditional Ayurvedic medicine. 

Ayurvedic treatment is a holistic approach that begins with an internal purification process. Following this process, treatment continues with a special diet, herbal remedies, massage therapy, yoga, and meditation. 

The goal of Ayurveda treatment is to regain a balance between the body, mind, spirit, and environment. 

Other goals of Ayurveda include:

  • Eliminate impurities

  • Reduce symptoms

  • Increase resistance to disease

  • Reduce worry

  • Increase harmony in life

Lithograph of Brahma.
Image from Photos.com.

History of Ayurveda

The origin of Ayurveda is considered to be holy by the Hindu God, Brahma. It is believed that Brahma passed on the knowledge of healing to the sages for the well-being of mankind. From the sages, the knowledge of traditional medicines was passed on to the disciples and then to the common man through various writings and oral narrations.

The history of Ayurveda began in the 2nd Century BC. Ayurveda has its foundations laid by the ancient schools of Hindu Philosophical teachings (Vaishehika School) and the school of logic (Nyaya School). 

The ancient school of Hindu Philosophical teachings and the school of logic each had their own teachings.

The ancient school of Hindu Philosophical teachings teaches about inferences and perceptions that should be gathered about a patient’s pathological condition for treatment.

The ancient school of logic teaches on the basis that a person should have knowledge of the patient’s condition and the disease condition before proceeding with treatment.

Later, the two schools worked together and jointly founded the nyaya-vaisesika school. In later years, the nyaya-vaisesika school brought glory to the ancient knowledge and helped spread the knowledge about Ayurveda.

The term Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words Ayur meaning life and Veda meaning knowledge. When combined together, Ayurveda translates to knowledge of life

The Ancient Art of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is India’s traditional, natural system of medicine. Ayurveda emphasizes a long life span, prevention of disease, and rejuvenation of our body.

Ayurveda is based on the view that the elements, forces, and principles that comprise all of nature are also seen in human beings. The mind and body are one another and together they form the mind-body. Ayurveda believes that mental health and physical health impact each other.

In Ayurveda, your whole life and lifestyle must be in harmony before you can enjoy true well-being. Ayurveda’s biggest preventative and therapeutic approach is lifestyle interventions.

Lifestyle interventions include:

  • What and when you eat

  • Sleeping patterns

  • Day-to-day activities and behaviors

  • Fitness routine

  • Natural herb remedies

If your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe then you have good health. When something disrupts this balance then you get sick.

Those who practice Ayurveda believe every person is made of five basic elements found in the universe. 

Woman at bonfire on beach.

The five basic elements:

  1. Space

  2. Air

  3. Fire

  4. Water

  5. Earth

The five basic elements combine in the body to form three life forces that control how your body works.

The three life forces:

  1. Space and air (Vata dosha)

  2. Fire and water (Pitta dosha)

  3. Water and earth (Kapha dosha)

  1. Vata Dosha

In Ayurveda, Vata dosha is considered the most powerful of the three life forces. Vata dosha controls basic body functions, your mind, breathing, blood flow, heart function, and removing waste from your intestines. 

Things that can disrupt Vata dosha:

  • Eating again soon after a meal

  • Fear

  • Staying up too late

  • Grief 

If Vata dosha is your main life force you are more likely to develop diseases such as anxiety, asthma, heart disease, skin problems, and arthritis.

  1. Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha controls your digestion, metabolism, and hormones linked to your appetite. 

Things that can disrupt Pitta dosha:

  • Eating sour or spicy foods

  • Spending too much time in the sun

If Pitta dosha is your main life force then you are most likely to develop diseases such as Crohn’s disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and infections. 

  1. Kapha Dosha

Kapha dosha controls muscle growth, body strength and stability, weight, and the immune system.

Things that can disrupt Kapha dosha:

  • Sleeping during the day

  • Eating too many sweet foods

  • Eating foods with too much salt or water

  • Drinking liquids with too much salt or water

If Kapha dosha is your main life force you are more likely to develop diseases such as breathing disorders, cancer, diabetes, nausea, and obesity.

Principles of Ayurveda

Ayurveda believes that the universe is composed of five elements: air, water, spaces, earth, and fire. These five elements form three basic life forces. 

The three life forces collectively control the basic physiological functions of the body along with five sub-life forces for each life force.

A perfect balance between the natural elements and the life forces of the human body should be maintained for a healthy state of living. Any imbalance between the life forces causes a state of illness or disease.

Indian woman in field.
Photo by Abhishek Saini.

Benefits of Ayurveda

Ayurveda has many health benefits related to the mind and body. Some of these benefits include:

  • Weight loss and maintenance

  • Healthy skin and hair

  • Reduced toxins in the body

  • Learn to clear up energy

  • Better health at a cellular level

  • Stronger digestion

  • Reduced stress

  • Greater sense of well-being

Uses of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is effective in treating a range of disorders including:

  • Anxiety

  • Asthma

  • Arthritis

  • Digestive issues

  • Eczema

  • High blood pressure

  • Arthritis

  • High cholesterol levels

  • Stress 

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Written by Emma Suarez.

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This blog provides general information and discusses common illnesses and related subjects. The information provided in this blog is not intended and should not be considered to replace medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. This blog does not constitute the practice of any medical, nursing or professional health care advice, diagnosis or treatment. We cannot diagnose conditions, provide second opinions or make specific treatment recommendations.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical help. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read in this blog.

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