From the Sanskrit words Ayur (Life) + Veda (wisdom/science), it is one of the oldest forms of health care in the world. Said to be over 5,000 years old, Ayurveda, a sister science to Yoga, is a holistic science with an emphasis on prevention and on bringing about and maintaining harmony of the body.
Its approach encompasses diet and lifestyle, herbs and yoga. Ayurveda considers physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of wellness to maintain optimal health. It asserts we are beings within Nature, affected by natural rhythms and seasons. Ayurveda treats not just the disease but the whole person, with an emphasis on prevention rather than cure of symptoms.
In Ayurvedic thinking, we are born with an individual blueprint – our constitution. This is called our unique biological self, or Prakruti. Our constitution defines who we are in a balanced state. We acknowledge and actively work with our relationship with nature, and this unique biological self, to bring body and mind into balance.
The importance of our relationship with nature, and the theory of doshas, are unique to Ayurveda. These are expressed in the theories of the Five Elements and the Three Doshas.
The five elements of air, space, fire, water and earth are the basic biological building blocks which make up all living things. In Ayurvedic thinking, these elements combine in different ways in each individual, and manifest as doshas. These doshas are: Vata (air, space) which is associated with movement; Pitta (fire, water) with transformation and assimilation; and Kapha ( earth, water) with structure and form.
The theory of the Five Elements offers a framework to understand the universe around us, and the theory of the Three Doshas helps us understand the biological nature of the human body, its structure and function, as well as our mind. You will hear Ayurvedic practioners referring to doshas in describing individuals, seasons, aspects of nature, remedies to support wellness, and more. The Theory of the Three Doshas is central to Ayurvedic approaches to health and wellness.
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