What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a natural healing system based on a holistic approach to healthcare. The word Ayurveda ( pronounced Aa-yer-vay-da), meaning “Science of Life” is the ancient medical system of India. It encompasses the healing of body, mind & consciousness through diet, lifestyle, & rejuvenation.
This philosophy of holistic healing teaches us that these factors can make such a difference to your overall health and well being & has such a contribution to your continuous good health
The concept of constitution is the main framework and the very heart of Ayurvedic science. Ayurveda teaches us that we each are born with our own configuration of 5 elements. These elements are:
Ayurveda & You
These five elements normally support life and maintain harmony in the world but, when out of balance can cause discomfort and threaten life. The predominance of each element, by its very nature changes continuously, modifying temperature, humidity, time and seasons. People can benefit by adjusting to these changes.
All the elements are present in each individual, but the proportions and combinations vary from person to person. Keeping one’s individual qualitative & quantitative balance of these 5 elements is essential for perfect health.
But when the combination is upset, disease may result. For instance, an increased Earth component can result in excessive weight leading to obesity. Increased water can lead to oedema such as swelling of ankles or fluid on the lungs or increased excess Fire can cause fever, ulcers, hypertension, burning sensations such as heartburn, conjunctivitis or burning urination.
Subtle changes in the mind may also appear, such as aggravation of Air causing fear and anxiety, of Fire leading to anger, hate & irritability, and of Earth bringing depression and dullness.
Ayurveda addresses the underlying root causes of one’s symptoms or disease within the mind, body & soul. Unfortunately in today’s Western society not all of these aspects are considered. Often only the physical symptoms are assessed. Modern medicine can suppress a symptom in one area of the body, but manifest in other parts of the body system creating more illness. The result of looking one dimensionally with this, is that one may never be relieved of their symptoms & could become even worse than before.
Welcome to the 5 elements of the human body:
Space / Ether
Serves as the common factor or “home” for all objects in the universe, but also within the human body, there are many spaces which are manifestations of the Ether element, for example the spaces in the mouth, nose, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, abdomen, thorax, capillaries, lymphatics, tissues & cells.
The second cosmic element, the element of movement. It is active, mobile, dry, and the vital life-force or prana, essential for all living creatures. Without air, life is not possible for any creatures on any planet. Within the human body, air manifests in the larger movements of the muscles. These include the pulsations of the heart, the expansion & contraction of the lungs, the movements of the stomach wall and intestines. The entire movements of the central nervous system are also governed by bodily Air.
The third element is Fire. The source of Fire and light in the solar system is the sun. The sun is the central source of heat energy. Fire governs digestion, absorption, and assimilation in the living organism as well as the flowering, ripening and decay of plants. Fire also manifests as intelligence, it also activates the retina which perceives light, also body temperature, these are all functions of bodily Fire.
Water is the forth important element. It nourishes plants, animals and sustains the environment. Within the body it manifests in the secretions of the digestive juices and the salivary glands, in the mucus membranes and in plasma and cytoplasm. Water is absolutely vital for the functioning of the tissues, organs and various bodily systems, it maintains electrolyte balance, for example, dehydration resulting from diarrhoea and vomiting must be treated immediately to protect the patient’s life.
Earth is the last element of the cosmos being solid, dense and hard, the firm ground for global life. It cradles and holds all living creatures of the planet, giving them food and shelter. In the body, the solid structures- bones, cartilage, nails, muscles, tendons, skin and hair- are all derived from Earth.