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Health According To Ayurveda
What Is Health According To Ayurveda?

“Sama Doshaha Sama Agnischa Sama Dhatu Mala Kriya Prasanna Aatma Indiriya Manaha Swastha Iti Abhidheeyate”

Sushruta sutra sthana, 15/41

 

One is in balanced health when the entire physical and mental body:  the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha), digestive fire (digestion, metabolism and assimilation), all the seven body tissues and components (dhatus), and all the excretory functions (including the functions of urination and defecation) are balanced with a pleasantly disposed contented mind, senses and spirit.

This sutra teaches us how to find harmony and well-being in life by developing Ayurveda as a lifestyle.  In modern times Ayurveda is perceived only as the science of medicine but traditionally, it emphasises how to build up a holistic lifestyle so that you can experience your holistic health.

 

Ayurveda offers a way of life.  The key to your health and wellness is based on your routine – the way you start and end your day, and your awareness of your food intake, especially including herbs and spices (oshodi), most of which you can find in your own your kitchen.   With the help of Ayurveda therapy, you can detoxify the body and help to integrate the body with the mind.

Your internal environment is governed by the Tridosha (vata, pitta and kapha), which are constantly reacting to your lifestyle, habits and external environment.  In response, each dosha either makes your internal environment too active, makes it too dull, or keeps it in harmony; and this is how imbalance continuously occurs in response to your choices and surroundings.

 

Imbalance are caused by pretty much anything and everything.  Some are controllable and some are not.  Your regular diet and the quality of the food, your sleep patterns, exercise, room temperature, mental health, or season change can all affect your doshas and create imbalance.

Ayurveda
What Is Health? – Part 2

In our previous article we discussed how health means balance, and this balance is determined by the way in which the tridoshavata, pitta and kapha – are combined in each individual.  We also discovered that one of the causes of diseases is ama – accumulated toxicity in the body when it is unable to properly digest food – which is caused by an imbalance of the doshas.

In this article we will show how your inherent nature – your prakriti, or your particular combination of the doshas, determines how the body metabolises food.

Prakriti – your inherent nature

You are unique

The tridosha make up one’s constitution, or prakriti (inherent nature), which determines how to accept, process and absorb the food we eat as well as how to respond to the environment around us.  Each individual’s physical and mental body is determined by the relative proportions of the three doshas at the time of fertilization.  When the embryo is formed, the constitution is determined.

Unique constitutions mean that each person is different in their own way.  This is why a diet programme can work well for some and not at all for others; why some people get ill during certain seasons while others don’t; why some eat a little and gain weight, while others eat a lot and not gain any; why some get tired after little physical work, whereas others seem to be endowed with an inexhaustible store of energy; and so on.

According to Ayurveda there are seven main constitutions with one or more predominant doshasvata, pitta or kapha predominant, vata-pitta, pitta-kapha or kapha-vata predominant, and vata-pitta-kapha in equal balance (a rare occurrence).

Understanding your Prakriti

Below is a list of the physical and mental traits of each dosha.  From these, you can determine which dosha is most prominent in your nature.

 
Vata
Pitta
Kapha
PHYSICAL TRAITS
   
Body frame/type
Thin, lean
Medium, athletic
Large, stocky
Hair
Curly, dry, thick
Straight, grey, bald
Silky, thick, oily
Eyes
Small, unsteady
Sharp, reddish
Large, oval, clear
Lips
Thin, dry, cracked
Pink, medium, soft
Full, smooth
Skin
Thin, dry, rough, cold
Smooth and warm
Normal, cool
Body Temperature
Cold when touched
Hot when touched
Norma, cool
Weight
Lose easy, gain hard
Steady, slow change
Gain easy, lose hard
Hunger
Unpredictable
Strong every 4 hours
Regular
Cravings
Caffeine, sugar
Spicy, intense foods
Ice cream, cheese
Digestion/elimination
Regular constipation
Rare constipation
Slow, steady, regular
Sleep
Light, restless
Sleep well 7-8 hours
Deep, hard to wake
Exercise
Run, dance, move
Competitive sports
Mild, gentle
Sweat
Hard to sweat
Sweat easily
Regular
Movement
Quick, light step
Average, strong step
Slow, steady steps
 

MENTAL TRAITS

Temperament
Lively, enthusiastic
Motivated, intense
Relaxed, accepting
Learning
Breadth over depth
Analytical, in-depth
Common topics
Memory
Quick grasp and loss
Sharp, clear
Slow grasp, not lost
Work
Independent/creative
Leads, likes to be boss
Employee, guided
Projects
Rarely completed
Sets goals, executes
Take time, completed
Emotion under stress
Anxiety, fear, worry
Angry, irritable, jealous
Laziness, withdrawal
Decision-making
Difficult, overthinking
Quick, confident
After contemplation
Communication
Fast talker
Direct, persuasive
Calm, deep voice
Lifestyle
Unattached, mobile
Busy, well-structured
Routine, constant
Weather
Dislikes cold, winter
Dislike heat, humidity
Dislikes cool, rain
Faith and beliefs
Ever changeable
Strong, extremist
Stable/set in stone
Interest/motivation
Art, travel, experience
Sport, business, politics
Comfort, family, food
Holistic

Ayurveda is a holistic medicine that treats your body as a whole rather than focusing on its different parts.  Ayurvedic literature suggests that when one part of the body ails or fails, it is usually a symptom of a larger problem manifested throughout different parts of the body.  Hence Ayurvedic diagnosis and treatments cover the body in its entirety, rather than addressing one or more of its parts.

Preventative

In general, common Western medicines follow a reactive, symptomatic, curative approach, where the pharmacist or doctor prescribes the required medicines to cure a certain ailment or region in the body, based on the symptoms displayed by the patient.  In general, one doesn’t approach the doctor unless there are certain physical or mental symptoms that appear.

In contrast, Ayurveda follows a proactive, preventative approach emphasising healing, rejuvenation, and purification therapies.  The goal is to maintain the body in its natural, clean state that allows it to self-heal – a miraculous property of a well-kept body.  Thus, this approach cures the long-term root cause of disease and prevents it from gaining a foothold in the system before it arises.

LongevityAyurveda’s methods of healing are 100% natural and supplement one’s lifestyle with therapies, foods, medical herbs and activities that stimulate physical, mental and spiritual well-being.  This helps to improve immunity in the body, and promotes a better state of well-being on a day to day basis, which improves life in the long-term

 

Some other systems of medicine provide temporary health improvements by masking an ailment with chemical medications or sedatives.  This short-term fix suppresses immunity instead of promoting it, thus leading to weaker and weaker immunity over time, making one prone to more diseases in addition to faster ageing and degeneration of body cells.

The system of Ayurveda cures the imbalances from the roots, whereas other medical systems simply suppress the symptoms.  All systems of medication, including Ayurveda, have their own place and importance, so it is not a question of one method being superior to the other.  We have to acknowledge the importance of all different approaches for finding our health and healing.  So, we should not be dogmatic about it, but try to integrate them according to their place and the state of one’s health.  Ayurveda should be considered as the first line of healing in order to prevent the disease because it uses natural remedies.  However, there is certainly a place for allopathic and other methods when diseases have become advanced.  In all cases, however, prevention is better than cure, so adopting an Ayurvedic lifestyle will minimise the risk of advanced disease.

Ayurveda
What Is Health? – Part 1

Health means balance

This article is Part 1 of a 2 Part Series on AyurvedaPart 1 examines how your health is determined by the balance in your life.

The definition of health according to Ayurveda is as follows:

One is in balanced health when the entire physical and mental body:  the three doshas (Vata, pitta, and Kapha), digestive fire (digestion, metabolism and assimilation), all the seven body tissues and components (dhatus), and all the excretory functions (including the functions of urination and defecation) are balanced with a pleasantly disposed of contented mind, senses and spirit.

It is captured in the following quote from the Sushruta sutra sthana (15/41), the most representative work of the Hindu science of medicine:

“Sama Doshaha Sama Agnischa Sama Dhatu Mala Kriya Prasanna Aatma Indiriya Manaha Swastha Iti Abhidheeyate”.

In simple terms, Ayurveda refers to the state when your mind, body and soul (or your physical, astral and causal bodies) are in alignment.

Ayurveda offers a way of life that results in your health and wellness, based on your daily routine – the way you start and end your day, and your awareness of your food intake (especially including herbs and spices [oshodi], most of which you can find in your own your kitchen).   With the help of Ayurveda therapy, you can detoxify your body and help to integrate it with the mind.

Ayurveda believes that everything in the universe consists of the five elements:  akasha (space), jal (water), Prithvi (earth), Tejas (fire), and Vayu (air).  The way in which these elements are combined in each individual results in the three doshas (tridoshas), known as Vata, pitta and Kapha, and these doshas are responsible for a person’s total health – physical, mental and emotional.

We will talk more about these doshas in a later article, but for the moment, you should understand that they are never stable in an individual – they are constantly reacting to your lifestyle, habits and external environment.  As a result, each dosha either:

  • makes your internal environment too active,
  • makes it too dull, or
  • keeps it in harmony;

and this is how imbalance continuously occurs in response to your choices and surroundings.

What causes imbalance?  Pretty much anything and everything.  Some are controllable and some are not.  The quality and taste of the food you eat, your habitual diet, sleep cycle, exercise style, room temperature, emotional and stress handling capacity or season change can all derange your doshas and create imbalance.

Agni and Ama

Agni (fire) is the current of life and is considered to live in the solar plexus.  It is the force which helps the metabolism to function.  Since our tissues are not exactly similar to the food we eat, agni converts the food in such a way that it is absorbed by the system, and ultimately every cell of the body.

If digestion has been properly completed, waste (mala) is produced in the shape of sweat, urine and faeces.  These are normal bodily functions.

When an imbalance occurs in the doshas, your digestive fire is directly affected.  This leads to inadequate digestion and assimilation of food, which in turn leads to the formation of ama (toxic waste) in the body.

This ama enters the blood stream and is circulated throughout the body, clogging its channels.  Retention of toxins in the blood results in toxaemia.  This accumulated toxicity, once well-established, will slowly affect prana (vital life energy), ojas (immunity), and dhatu-agni (cellular metabolic fire), resulting in disease.  This can be regarded as nature’s way of trying to eliminate toxicity from the body.

Each and every disease is a crisis of ama toxicity.  Ama is the fundamental internal cause and the mother of all diseases, caused by an imbalance of the doshas.

In our next article we will talk about one’s inherent nature – one’s prakriti.

 

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