The Basics of Ayurveda
Essential concepts of ancient wisdom.
Ayurveda is the fundamental science of life, the eternal and traditional health system, stemming from the ancient Vedic culture and becoming India´s traditional lifestyle. It deals with every aspect of wellness comprised in your life, the balance and coordination of all energies within you and your environment; it is the delicate and precise science of ensuring the synchronization of all elements to achieve the healthiest mind, self, and body.
Due to its intrinsically holistic perspective of well-being, Ayurveda has become one of the leading non-western schools of medicine, helping millions worldwide maintain a healthy lifestyle. This philosophy’s fundamental concepts are deeply rooted in universal laws of nature that have changed little through time. With subjective, objective, and intuitive approaches to gaining knowledge, incorporated with a deep understanding of the unseen intelligence of the universe. The practices of Ayurveda have withstood the test of time.
The essence of Ayurveda is complex, but it is also as organic and logical as it can be. This guide will serve you as a deep dive into this holistic philosophy’s basic concepts and its real magnificence, all simply and clearly.
The word “Ayurveda” comes from the Sanskrit words “ayus” (life) and “ved” (wisdom or science), and its name is a direct indication as to its very nature: knowledge and philosophy. While plenty of health systems are based only on physical concepts, Ayurveda is based on the Hindu viewpoint of the continuation and balance of a macrocosm and a microcosm. This perspective also includes all the elements and energies within the cosmos, thus allowing for a concept of health that encompasses the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects of a person.
All matter in the cosmos is made up of Panchamahabhuta, or the 5 main elements of Ayurveda. These are roughly translated as follows:
- Akash. Ether. Non-resistance, space.
- Vayu. Air. Movement and direction.
- Agni. Fire. Transformation, heat, and light.
- Jala. Water. Liquid, fluid, and cohesion.
- Prithvi. Earth. Solid and stable.
We are all made up of these 5 elements, all in different amounts, and these elements must be in balance. The most fundamental precept of Ayurveda is, precisely, to maintain the right balance. This is achieved by a series of rituals, habits, diet, herbs, and diverse activities meant to soothe, invigorate, or awaken specific energies comprised in your unique constitution, patterns, and personal characteristics. To determine your exclusive energetic design or combination of vital energy types, the 3 primary Doshas must be considered:
- Vata which is the predominance of the air & ether elements,
- Pitta which is the predominance of the fire & water elements, and
- Kapha which is the predominance of the earth & water elements.
All of us are made up of different levels of each Dosha, which is determined at our conception -this combination is called Prakruti-, the predominant Dosha is the base for all treatments and habits designed to maximize a person’s health and wellness. Yet, always considering the correct balance of the lesser Doshas is vital to truly maximize treatment benefits. Once your Vikruti -which is the current state of your Dosha levels or imbalance- is assessed, you can start to fully incorporate particular elements into your Dinacharya -this is your daily habits and rituals- to achieve a better balance. This is one of Ayurveda´s most important concepts: the daily routine. It observes the cycles that affect you throughout the day, and it helps understand and manage specific actions for each Dosha. Dinacharya is one handy tool that can show you how ritual can bring wellness and establish mindfulness in your life.
One of the primary resources of Ayurvedic medicine is food. It is through food that healing and balancing begin. The first step to an integral state of well-being commences with your own Agni, your digestive fire. Other energies and processes can be detected and corrected from this digestive process, benefiting all aspects of your life.
These are all essential precepts of Ayurveda, and although there are plenty more, these can give you a basic understanding of the beautiful holistic system that is Ayurveda. As you can tell, Ayurveda is both a potent and multidisciplinary medicine and lifestyle that can have an extremely positive impact on your overall health and welfare.
If you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda or wish to start your journey towards a more conscious and sustainable lifestyle, take our Dosha quiz. If you want to keep reading our blog to learn about other ways to transition into Ayurveda, please feel right at home. Start somewhere, you will feel amazing in your own skin.
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