What is Ayurveda?

Ayurvedic medicine (“Ayurveda” for short) is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Its main goal is to promote good health, not fight disease. But treatments may be geared toward specific health problems. Ayurveda, which translates as “knowledge of life,” dates back 5,000 years to the ancient Sanskrit texts, the Vedas. It’s a system of healing that examines physical constitution, emotional nature, and spiritual outlook in the context of the universe. According to the philosophy, universal life force manifests as three different energies, or doshas, known as vata, pitta, and kapha. We’re all made up of a unique combination of these three forces. Though everyone has some of each, most people tend to have an abundance of one or two of the doshas. This unique combination is determined at the moment of conception, and is your own personal blueprint, or prakriti (nature). As you move through life, the proportion of each of the three doshas constantly fluctuates according to your environment, your diet, the seasons, the climate, your age, and many other factors. As they move into and out of balance, the doshas can affect your health, energy level, and general mood.

Ayurveda and Your Life Energy

Students of Ayurveda believe that everything in the universe – dead or alive – is connected. If your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe, you have good health. When something disrupts this balance, you get sick. Among the things that can upset this balance are genetic or birth defects, injuries, climate and seasonal change, age, and your emotions. Those who practice Ayurveda believe every person is made of five basic elements found in the universe: space, air, fire, water, and earth. These combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They control how your body works. They are Vata dosha (space and air); Pitta dosha (fire and water); and Kapha dosha (water and earth). Everyone inherits a unique mix of the three doshas. But one is usually stronger than the others. Each one controls a different body function. It’s believed that your chances of getting sick — and the health issues you develop — are linked to the balance of your doshas.