Ayur-what? A brief introduction to Ayurveda

It is considered to be the science of life and is often associated with health, wellbeing and a long life: Ayurveda. If you have ever wondered what the heck this ayurveda thingy is that everyone seems to be talking about at the moment: Here is a brief introduction that covers all the important information.

OLD BUT GOLD

In Sanskrit, “Veda” means knowledge and “Ayus” means life. Like yoga, the ancient art of healing has its roots in India. Ayurveda has been practiced there for over 5,000 years and is therefore one of the oldest medical systems in the world – and yet still up to date. Ayurvedic health science is the primary medical system in India and other Asian countries such as Sri Lanka. Ayurveda has also gained popularity in Europe in recent years. 

Ayurveda understands health as a sensitive balance of body, mind and soul. Environmental influences, stress or poor diet are factors that affect our natural balance and can lead to chronic diseases sooner or later. The holistic therapeutic approach always considers the individual in their current life context. However, we can often compensate our imbalances with simple lifestyle changes. What we eat is of particular importance: Ayurveda sees food as medicine.

Ayurvedic spices and herbs

THE THREE DOSHAS

According to Ayurveda, everything is made up of the five natural elements earth, water, fire, air and space – including our body. Just as each person has an individual fingerprint, we also have a unique energy pattern that encompasses their very own constitution. This includes physical, mental and emotional characteristics.

The individual constitution is determined by three bio energies, called doshas, ​​which in turn are made up of the five natural elements. You may have heard of them: vata, pitta and kapha. They are the catalyst for all biological processes and functions of our body.

VATA: THE ENERGY OF MOVEMENT

Vata is composed of the elements air and space and is mainly responsible for movement and various bodily activities.

PITTA: THE METABOLIC ENERGY

Pitta is composed of the elements water and fire and represents heat, transformation and metabolism.

KAPHA: ENERGY OF STRUCTURE

Kapha is composed of earth and water and is responsible for stability, body structure and moist qualities.

Your individual constitution is determined by how much vata, vitta and kapha you have in your body.

All human beings carry characteristics of all three bio energies, but usually one of the energies is dominant. Your constitution is determined at your birth and is called prakruti. It is common that not just one dosha dominates. Mixed types such as vata-kapha or pitta-kapha, in which two doshas predominate, often occur. Types that carry all three doshas in almost the same proportions are extremely rare – they are called tridoshic. 

Ideally, the constitution determined at birth is retained throughout life. However, we are exposed to constant changes in our environment, which affect the constitution at any time. The body tries to maintain a dynamic balance with the environment. If there is an excess or deficiency in one of the energies, we also distance ourselves from our basic nature: the doshas are thrown out of balance by lifestyle, environmental influences, stress, too little sleep or poor nutrition. This unbalanced and present state is called vikruti.

Prakruti and vikruti are are not the same. You may be a pitta prakruti but suffer from a vata imbalance due to your diet.

A person with all three doshas in balance is characterized by a healthy body and metabolic functions plus regular digestion. A balanced person has a clear mind, feels joy and is energetic and content.

We usually only notice an imbalance when it is already too late: physical and psychological pain, digestive issues and illnesses can be the consequences of a dosha imbalance.