Ayurveda For You
Ayurveda is acknowledged as the ancient traditional healing system of India, covering all aspects of life style. Literally translated, it means “Science of life” and is one of the oldest systems of medicine practiced throughout the world. Ayurveda is a complete health system for mind, body and spirit. Rather than treating symptoms, it treats the whole person, working holistically to prevent and treat diseases. Ayurveda uses the elements, seasons, planets and bodily humors to discover the areas of potential weakness; it operates on the assumptions of the five elements: earth, air, fire, water and ether.
According to the laws of Ayurveda, these elements are manifested in each individual through doshas, or body types; there are three main types of doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Maintaining the balance of your doshas is the key to successful Ayurvedic practice.
Ayurvedic medicine is founded on the belief that all diseases stem from the digestive system and are caused either by poor digestion of food, which is the body’s major source of nourishment, or by following an improper diet of your doshas (nature).
Doshas means, “that which tends to go out of balance easily”. The elements, the seasons, your astrological chart, your genetic inheritance from your parents and environmental factors, all of these contribute to the potential for imbalance within the doshas.
At a time when high technology medicine is pushing back barriers in areas such as gene therapy, laser surgery and high-resolution body scanning, it seems paradoxical that natural medicine is also enjoying a remarkable renaissance.
While traditional folk remedies are the first and often only healthcare option for most of the world’s population in developing countries, surveys show that between one third and half of those in affluent Western nations, where science-based medicines are readily available, are willing to use complementary therapies.
As pharmaceutical companies pour money into isolating and synthesizing chemical components found in plants, sales of herbal remedies containing these substances in natural form are among the fastest growing health markets in Europe, North America and Australia.
The popularity of complementary medicine has obliged the medical profession to take non-conventional therapies more seriously, and their use alongside-rather than instead of-mainstream is growing. Many health professionals are willing to subscribe to a “holistic” approach to healthcare that takes in account the individual’s physiological condition, psychological, social, environment and even spiritual dimensions that may reveal underlying factors contributing to illness.
The holistic approach of complementary medicine has much to offer. Good nutrition and exercise are undeniably important, but attention is being paid to the inner world of the emotions and spirit, and the way the interaction of these and other elements contribute to the well-being.
Complementary therapies aim to mobilize self-healing process to restore the harmonious working of the physical and biochemical elements of the body, the mind and the emotions.
*Source : Internet Website
History of Ayurveda
Ayurveda , the science of life, prevention and longevity is the oldest and most holistic medical system available on the planet today. It was placed in written form over 5,000 years ago in India, it was said to be a world medicine dealing with both body and the spirit. Before the advent of writing, the ancient wisdom of this healing system was a part of the spiritual tradition of the Sanatana Dharma (Universal Religion), or Vedic Religion. VedaVyasa, the famous sage, shaktavesha avatar of Vishnu, put into writing the complete knowledge of Ayurveda, along with the more directly spiritual insights of self realization into a body of scriptural literature called the Vedas and the Vedic literatures.
There were originally four main books of spirituality, which included among other topics, health, astrology, spiritual business, government, army, poetry and spiritual living and behavior. These books are known as the four Vedas; Rik, Sama, Yajur and Atharva. The Rik Veda, a compilation of verse on the nature of existence, is the oldest surviving book of any Indo-European language (3000 B.C.). The Rik Veda (also known as Rig Veda) refers to the cosmology known as Sankhya which lies at the base of both Ayurveda and Yoga, contains verses on the nature of health and disease, pathogenesis and principles of treatment. Among the Rik Veda are found discussions of the three doshas, Vayu. Pitta and Kapha, and the use of herbs to heal the diseases of the mind and body and to foster longevity.
The Atharva Veda lists the eight divisions of Ayurveda: Internal Medicine, Surgery of Head and Neck, Ophthalmology and Otorinolaryngology, Surgery, Toxicology, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Gerontology or Science of Rejuvenation, and the Science of Fertility. The Vedic Sages took the passages from the Vedic Scriptures relating to Ayurveda and compiled separate books dealing only with Ayurveda. One of these books, called the Atreya Samhita is the oldest medical book in the world! The Vedic Brahmans were not only priests performing religious rites and ceremonies, they also became Vaidyas (physicians of Ayurveda). The sage-physician-surgeons of the time were the same sages or seers, deeply devoted holy people, who saw health as an integral part of spiritual life. It is said that they received their training of Ayurveda through direct cognition during meditation. In other words, the knowledge of the use of various methods of healing, prevention, longevity and surgery came through Divine revelation; there were no guessing or testing and harming animals. These revelations were transcribed from the oral tradition into book form, interspersed with the other aspects of life and spirituality. What is fascinating is Ayurveda’s use of herbs, foods, aromas, gems, colors, yoga, mantras, lifestyle and surgery. Consequently Ayurveda grew into a respected and widely used system of healing in India. Around 1500 B.C., Ayurveda was delineated into eight specific branches of medicine. There were two main schools of Ayurveda at that time. Atreya- the school of physicians, and Dhanvantari – the school of surgeons. These two schools made Ayurveda a more scientifically verifiable and classifiable medical system.
People from numerous countries came to Indian Ayurvedic schools to learn about this world medicine and the religious scriptures it sprang from. Learned men from China, Tibet, the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Afghanistan’s, Persians, and more traveled to learn the complete wisdom and bring it back to their own countries. Ayurvedic texts were translated in Arabic and under physicians such as Avicenna and Razi Sempion, both of whom quoted Indian Ayurvedic texts, established Islamic medicine. This style became popular in Europe, and helped to form the foundation of the European tradition in medicine.
In 16th Century Europe, Paracelsus, who is known as the father of modem Western medicine, practiced and propagated a system of medicine which borrowed heavily from Ayurveda.
There are two main re-organizers of Ayurveda whose works are still existing intact today – Charak and Sushrut. The third major treatise is called the Ashtangha Hridaya, which is a concise version of the works of Charak and Sushrut. Thus the three main Ayurvedic texts that are still used today are the Charak Samhita (compilation of the oldest book Atreya Samhita), Sushrut Samhita and the Ashtangha Hridaya Samhita. These books are believed to be over 1,200 years old. It is because these texts still contain the original and complete knowledge of this Ayurvedic world medicine, that Ayurveda is known today as the only complete medical system still in existence. Other forms of medicine from various cultures, although parallel are missing parts of the original information.
Ayurveda – A Complete Science of Life
Welcome to read about the most ancient and traditional science on one of the most modern systems, the Internet. How can this ancient system of health care be relevant to people of today, when technological advances have radically altered our lifestyles, our environment and our medicine?
The principles of Ayurveda are an invaluable link to understanding, in detail, naturally healthy living. People everywhere are realizing the importance and benefits of taking personal responsibility for one’s own well being, making Ayurveda the perfect system of health knowledge for today’s world.
Ayurveda is a science of life so to know more about it, we must know what is life? Life according to Ayurveda is a combination of senses, mind, body and soul. So it is clear from this definition of life that Ayurveda is not only limited to body or physical symptoms but also gives a comprehensive knowledge about spiritual, mental and social health.
The words like soul and spirituality might sound outdated or create a negative thinking in some of you as they have no place in modern science. As soon as we hear about these topics, we become uncomfortable. Actually, I don’t feel that it is our fault. No one has ever spoken about these things to us. We are always trapped in the attractions of outer material world to become happy and peaceful.
The modern society, education, culture and the television- everything speaks about materialism. If this was everything why is it so that most us are unhappy. There is unrest, anxiety, mental tension, fighting and terror everywhere despite best efforts being made to stop them. This is because some part of our body is not being nourished properly.
Basics of Ayurveda
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda literally means “science of life and longevity.” and is considered to be the traditional system of medicine of India. Ayurveda is a science in the sense that it is a complete system. It is a qualitative, holistic science of health and longevity, a philosophy and system of healing the whole person, body and mind. The origin of this system goes back to a far past, in which philosophy and medicine were not separated. Therefore, philosophical views have strongly influenced the Ayurvedic way of thinking.
What is unique about Ayurveda?
There are several aspects to Ayurveda that are quite unique:
Ayurveda offers reference points for managing treatment decisions specific to each case. Ayurvedic theory is profoundly useful in analysing individual patient constitution and understanding variations in disease manifestation.The Ayurvedic framework can be used to structure working models of the unique state of each patient, and to project a vision or goal for a whole state of health, again unique to each case.Ayurveda offers specific recommendations to each individual on lifestyle, diet, exercise and yoga, herbal therapy, and even spiritual practices to restore and maintain balance in body and mind. Ayurveda sees a strong connection between the mind and the body, a huge amount of information is available regarding this relationship.This understanding that we are all unique individuals enables Ayurveda to address not only specific health concerns but also offers explanation as to why one person responds differently than another.
Origin of Ayurveda
Historians has not pin-pointed the exact time Ayurveda came into being. Most agree that Ayurvedic classical texts were written in India between 3,500 and 5,000 years ago, though some suggest an even longer history.
The origins of this system of course are lost in time. In legend it is said to have been taught by the creator, Brahma, to the Prajapati Daksha. (One of the lords of the animals) who taught it in turn to the divine twins called the Ashwinikumar’s.
Ashwinikumar’s are the heavenly healers. They taught Indra, the chief of the shining ones. The personages mentioned were deities of early Vedic times. When mankind started suffering from various diseases the wise men like Bharadvaja learnt from Indra the knowledge of medicine. Gradually the huge amount of knowledge accumulated was divided systematically into different branches.
All matter is thought to be composed of five basic elements ( panchamahabhutas ) which exhibit the properties of earth (prithvi), water (jala), fire (tejas), wind (vayu) and space (akasha). These elements do not exist in isolated forms, but always in a combination, in which one or more elements dominate. According to Ayurveda, the human body is composed of derivatives of the five basic elements, in the form of doshas, tissues (dhatus) and waste products (malas).
- Doshas: The most fundamental and characteristic principle of Ayurveda is called “tridosha” or the three human doshas are the physiological factors of the body. They are to be seen as all pervasive, subtle entities, and are categorized into vata, pitta and kapha. Vata regulates movement and is represented by the nervous system. Pitta is the principle of biotransformation and is the cause of all metabolic processes in the body. Kapha is the principle of cohesion and functions through the body fluids. Together, these three doshas determine the physiologic constitution of an individual.
- Dhatus: the tissues are classified into seven categories: plasma, blood cells, muscular tissue, adipose tissue, bony tissue, bone marrow and the reproductive tissue.
- Malas: three main waste products are urine, faeces and sweat. For the metabolic processes in the body, there are three main groups of biological factors, probably exhibiting enzymatic functions (agnis). Jatharagni is responsible for the digestion and the absorption of nutritious substances During this process, digestion takes place in three stages: first the digestion of sweet (madhura) and salty (lavana) nutrients, then the digestion of sour (amla) nutrients, and finally the digestion of sharp (tikta), bitter (katu) and astringent (kasaya) nutrients. The respective products of these three stages are sweet, sour and sharp.
- Panchabhutagnis: containing five types of biological factors is responsible for the processing of the five basic elements into a composition useful to the body.
- Dhatvagnis: The third group contains seven types, each for the assimilation of the seven tissues This assimilation takes place successively. From the absorbed nutritious substance, plasma (rasa) is produced first; from plasma, blood (rakta) is formed, then muscular tissue (mamsa), adipose tissue (meda), bony tissue (asthi), bone marrow (majjan) and the reproductive cells (shukra).Samprapti, the Disease Process(Pathology)
Under normal conditions, the doshas, dhatus and malas correspond to certain standards regarding their quantity, quality and function. However, this situation is not static, and due to several endogenous and erogenous factors, the doshas may become unbalanced, resulting in disease. Every disease is related to an imbalance of the doshas. Other coherent factors can be: the disturbance of the biological factors (agnis), the formation and accumulation of undigested nutrients (ama), obstruction of the body channels (shrotorodha), and a disturbed assimilation in the tissues.
Ayurveda gives us a model to look at each individual as a unique makeup of the three doshas (Prakruti) and thereby design treatment protocols that specifically address a person’s health challenges. When any of the doshas (Vata, Pitta or Kapha) become imbalance, Ayurveda will suggest specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in reducing or increasing the doshas that has become imbalance. If toxins in the body are abundant, then a cleansing process known as Pancha Karma is recommended to eliminate these unwanted toxins.
- Obesity: Mainly due to absence of physical activity. Other causes may be sleeping during the day, intake of Kapha – increasing foods, finally results in the accumulation of fat. These block the channels of nutrition. This blocking causes an increase in hunger because the body does not get nutrition.
- Rheumatism: Eating foods which are incompatible, lack of physical exercise in general, doing exercise particularly after eating fatty foods, incorrect use of purgatives, causes improper digestion. The half digested food called Ama associates itself with Vata and moves about. It fills the seats of kapha, and blocks the transport channels of the body. This blocking of channels produces weakness of the heart, which is the seat of the disease. This results in loss of strength, feeling of heaviness, stiffness of the body, and small and big joints alike.
- Indigestion / Dyspepsia: Taking excess of water, taking small / large quantities of food at odd times, suppression of the natural functions of the body, loss of sleep at night and sleeping during the daytime, causes gastric fire (Jatharagni) responsible for the digestion and the absorption of nutritious substances weak.
- Skin Problems: Are often due to imbalances in Pitta doshas and rakta dhatus. This is caused by excessive exposure to sunlight, taking foods which are pungent, hot and alkaline.