What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is an ancient “way” of understanding how the human body works, and how to keep everything in harmony, balance like a well-oiled machine that not only performs well but also ensures its own longevity.
A set of four ancient Indian texts, collectively called the Veda’s house are the source of the doctrines that guide the Hindu ‘way of life’. Some of the Veda’s include religious and spiritual guidance, others include more everyday guidance, like the Atharvaveda. Ayurveda can be simply described as an appendix of the Atharvaveda.
Ayurveda is an important, and perhaps the most practical, tangible guide in all the Vedas. Ayur means ‘life’, and Veda means ‘the study of’. This branch of knowledge or guidance is all about the human body, its physical ailments, and how to treat it before, during and after its life, addressing all its strengths and weaknesses - physical and physiological.
Ayurveda’s influence on our day to day life is unique. It evaluates at a few things: what motivates a person, moves them (spiritually and physically), keeps them going, as well as what hinders their wellbeing. In doing so, and finding the problem, it suggests ways to balance it all - to be the best “human” – from within.
Ayurveda is filled with many terms and concepts that are difficult to explain in a short essay.
The easiest parallel is this- just as we know there are the four elements: earth/ water/ wind/ fire, humans too are made up of 3 elements: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are analogous to the four elements.
Vata: is Ether + Wind
Pitta: is Water + Fire
Kapha: is Earth + Water
These are called “Dosha” or personalities, even though it seems to translate to ‘fault’.
We are all familiar with someone who is the first one to get cold, or hot, the first one to get hungry no matter how much they have eaten, or the first one to fall asleep at the drop of a hat. All these happen because of ‘dosha’, our individual physiological personalities.
Dosha determine how our body functions - from breathing, sleeping, activity, mental health, digestion, and more. Even though we are each unique, and never believe we could be a particular “type”, we are made up of a sum of these - Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The fine balance among these three - makes us who we are. When these go “out of sync”, is when we begin to experience health issues.
Ayurveda is not a religious practice - even though it originated in Hindu Vedic texts. The language used includes Sanskrit - which makes it slightly harder for most people to pronounce words and also understand some of the concepts. English parallel translations are always available – but don’t always convey the right meaning – so if you are curious, you must ask.
Ayurveda is all about lifestyle - because one can make small changes to how we eat, drink, act and engage - to make all aspects of our physiological personality harmonious with the others, and enhance our own wellbeing.
If this sounds easy, this is Ayurveda.