Peer View on Ayurveda
Ayurveda means the “science of life”. It originated in India more than 10,000 years ago and is believed to be the oldest healing science in existence, from which all other systems emerged. Pronounced “Aa-your-vay-da”, this ancient healing system has three main focuses:
1) Healing illness
2) Prevention of disease
3) Longevity or age reversal
Laws of Nature and Spirituality In essence, Ayurveda explains the laws of nature that cause health or disease. The first cause of illness is said to be the loss of faith in the Divine or experiencing a spiritual emptiness. From here illness develops due to internal conditions (e.g., foods and liquids) or external conditions (e.g., seasons, lifestyle). The main factors that cause poor health (also described as imbalance) are
1) Poor digestion
2) Weak immune systems.
When food is not properly digested it sits in the body. Nutrients are not absorbed and the food decays and forms toxins. These toxins cause most diseases in the body. Therefore, it is important to have good digestion.
The immune system can become depleted by poor nutrition, overwork, drugs and other excesses. The finest essence of nutrition develops a life sap that protects the immune system, much like the sap of a tree heals the bruises in its bark. In addition to promoting physical health, it is the life sap that becomes transformed through meditation to produce mental peace and spiritual development. With all the immune disorders that are prevalent these days, it is even more important that persons develop their immune sap.
What Makes Ayurveda So Unique?
This spiritual science offers numerous unique benefits:
It looks at people as individuals, not as a generic group.
It heals from the root-cause of an illness, not merely treating the symptoms.
Only natural therapies are offered.
No side effects develop from the therapies.
Therapies are inexpensive and effective
How Does Ayurveda Work?
Tridosha Theory:The basic view of Ayurveda is that all of life (people, food, animals, nature, the universe, and diseases) are combinations of three energy-elements: air (called Vayu or Vata), fire (called Pitta), and water (called Kapha). When these elements are balanced, one is healthy. Illness is defined as an imbalance of these elements; all disorders are excesses of one or more element.
People and the Elements: A person’s constitution (dosha) is predominantly one or more of these elements. Each element relates to certain body types, foods and health concerns. By nature, whatever a person’s constitution is, they have a tendency for it to become excessed. For example an air constitution person (Vayu dosha) is thin and bony. Physical symptoms of excess air include dry skin, cracking bones, gas and constipation. Mental symptoms of excess air include fear, worry, anxiety and nervousness. When an air constitution (Vayu dosha) person is balanced they are creative, adaptable and have no physical health concerns.
Ayurveda notes that certain foods increase air and other foods reduce air. In general, excess air is reduced by eating cooked or steamed foods, and eating every three or four hours. Foods like carrots, rice and mung beans reduce excess air. Broccoli, baked beans and barley increase air (e.g., they cause gas). Excessive lifestyles also increases the air element.Fire constitution people (Pitta dosha) tend towards excess heat. When healthy they are strong, make good leaders and are warm and goal oriented. When the Pitta dosha is imbalanced, mentally they become hot tempered, impatient, irritable.
Physically they develop heat-related disorders such as acne, rashes, diarrhea, ulcers, toxic blood, liver, kidney, gall bladder, heart and spleen disorders.Water constitutions (Kapha doshas) tend towards excess water. When healthy they are strong, muscular, calm and loyal. When water becomes excessed, they develop lethargy, and a hoarding or greedy nature. Physically they develop congestion, overweight, edema, heart and kidney problems, etc.
Health means balance. Each constitution has a natural tendency to become imbalanced or excessed. By eating foods and living a lifestyle that reduces the the excesses, one remains balanced. Balancing produces healing, prevention, and reverses the aging process.
Many people have two or even all three elements in their constitution. In these cases, both elements tend toward excess. Thus foods and lifestyles that reduce both elements need to be followed.
What Therapies Does Ayurveda Offer?
Using a holistic approach, Ayurveda offers therapies for each of the five senses because different people learn better through different senses. Therapies include;
Taste: Herbs and nutrition.
Touch:Massage (abhyanga), Yoga, exercise.
Sight: Color therapy.
Hearing: Music therapy, mantra meditation, chanting. Spiritual therapies include meditation, living ethically, and working in a career that one loves or is purposeful.
Environmental factors are also considered from this holistic outlook. These therapies include house, apartment and office structure and astrological effects. These are sciences unto themselves. Vedic architecture (Vastu Shastra) and Chinese Feng Shui (pronounced fung shway) deal with the laws of nature that integrate the earth, the person and the planets and stars. The exterior and interior design of buildings can also enhance balance or cause imbalance. Vedic astrology (Jyotish) is the science of understanding the laws of nature of the planets and stars, and how they influence us.
What Does Holistic Mean?
Holistic has two meanings.
1)It looks at the whole of one’s life. Health and disease are byproducts of all aspects of one’s life: nutrition, career, mental frame, family and social activities and spiritual life. If one area is weakened, all areas begin to suffer. If a person is unhappy at work, it will affect all other areas of life.
2)Holistic means holy. Ayurveda reminds us that to have and maintain true health, one needs to take some quiet time for spiritual development. The goal of life is Self-Realization. This is a state of unshakable Divine mental peace.