The term Ayurveda consists of two Sanskrit roots
Ayus and Veda. Ayus may be translated as life and Veda as knowledge. Hence, Ayurveda is knowledge of life. Sanskrit is the language of Ayurveda and the oldest written language on the planet. Ayurveda teaches that man is a child of external environment called macrocosm. Man is called a microcosm, a universe within himself. Ayurveda views health and dis-ease in holistic terms, as per the relationship between man the microcosm and universe the macrocosm. The harmony between the two creates health and dis-harmony creates dis-ease. Ayurveda is the science that brings about the harmony in an individual.
The Goal of Ayurveda
The goal of Ayurveda is to create complete wellness with harmony between mind, body and spirit and natural resistance to disease causing conditions. Modern medicine attempts to restore health by treating the symptoms of the body or attacking the disease. Ayurveda believes that by balancing the various mind-body functions the natural intelligence of the body will automatically bring itself to wellness. Ayurveda is complimentary to modern medicine and does not replace medical diagnosis or treatment.
How is the Goal Achieved?
Ayurveda recognizes that each person has a unique mind-body constitution. Ayurveda then identifies the various components of that individual's constitution, determines where imbalances and disturbances exist, and provides education, guidance and a plan for helping the individual bring about their own improvements in health and wellness.
The National Institute of Health Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine currently considers Ayurveda a form of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States. In the State of California, Ayurveda is a non-licensed profession. It's practice was formally legalized under the passage of Senate Bill 577 in January 2003. Ayurvedic consultations are considered alternative or complementary to healing arts that are licensed by the State of California.
The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda is based on a deep understanding of the forces at work within all of nature. Since we are part of nature, we are all created from the same basic elements. They are: space, air, fire, water and earth. These are the five elements of the environment and also the same forces that are within each one of us. By understanding their nature and qualities, we come to understand ourselves. The five elements manifest themselves in the functioning of the five senses related to hearing, touch, vision, taste and smell. Ayurveda recognizes the unique physical and mental constitution or make up of an individual and detects the current state of imbalance through various techniques. It then offers a wide range of modalities to enable individuals to take care of their own health. Ayurveda is not a system of healing in which everyone enjoys the same practices. There are rarely two treatment plans that are exactly alike.
The physiology of the human being is governed by three main forces which are commonly known as the three doshas or humors called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is made up of air and ether, Pitta is made up of fire and water and Kapha is made up of water and earth. These three humors, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, govern all the biological, psychological and physiological functions of the body, mind and consciousness. If they are out of balance, the result is disease.
VATA is a combination of the elements Space and Air. It is responsible for movement, breathing, heartbeat and creativity. Symptoms of VATA imbalance may manifest as constipation, gas, dryness, indigestion, pain, fatigue, being cold, restlessness, anxiety and excessive worry.
PITTA is a combination of the elements Fire and Water. It is responsible for warmth, digestion, metabolism and intelligence. Symptoms of PITTA imbalance may manifest as hyperacidity, hypertension, inflammation, rashes, anger, jealousy and irritability.
KAPHA is a combination of the elements Water and Earth. It is responsible for structure, lubrication, stamina
and compassion. Symptoms of KAPHA imbalance may manifest as congestion, overweight, water retention and lethargy.
Optimal Health is the result of a perfect balance between VATA, PITTA and KAPHA. However, they can be pushed out of balance by such factors as Environment, Trauma, Lifestyle, Diet, Stress, Toxins and other causes. Hence, the goal of Ayurvedic treatment is to help the individual reestablish harmony within themselves and with their environment so that the body and mind can heal themselves. As everyone is composed of a unique combination of VATA, PITTA and KAPHA with different imbalances, each individual's path towards reestablishing balance and optimal health will be unique.