Introduction to Ayurveda
Ayurveda is a 5000 year-old science from India. It means the science of life: ayur meaning life, veda meaning knowledge. Ayurveda heals the body, mind, and soul and treats dis-ease in both healthy and unhealthy people. Ayurveda states that we are a microcosm of the macrocosm; what occurs in our bodies and minds is a reflection of nature on a smaller scale. Similar to Five Element Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda states that everything is made up of the five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth.
An important concept in ayurveda is that of the three doshas. Doshas are not anything that can be seen or quantified. Our dosha- or prakruti- reflects our predominant character, which is determined at the time of conception. Our doshas can become unbalanced from the time of conception until we die. Many factors can imbalance our dosha; stress, poor diet, exposure to negative/violent influences, toxins, etc. When people seek out an ayurvedic practitioner, their current state, or vikruti, is what is attended to.
In Ayurveda, one can use the concepts of like treating like and also, that opposites heal or correct imbalances. If it is very hot, one should ingest cooling foods and in winter, more warming foods. As the seasons change, our vikruti will change as well and so seasonal foods are often used to balance a person.
Our dosha, when imbalanced, can lead to disease by excess of or depletion of, our doshic qualities. When this occurs, our tissues become affected and disease symptoms may begin to accumulate. A skilled ayurvedic provider will use multiple approaches to treat the person, frequently based on balancing the 5 elements in the body. So, dosha is based on nature and ayurveda tries to bring the body, mind and soul into harmony with one’s own nature and the nature that we all live in.