WHAT IS AYURVEDA?
AYURVEDA AS A SYSTEM OF HEALING
Life presents us with opportunity as well as challenge. Given that we don’t live in a bubble, we are faced with numerous influences that affect our health on a daily basis. Many of these influences stem from our choices that we make, including diet, lifestyle, exercise, unprocessed emotions and physical and emotional stress. Additionally, there are factors that are beyond our control, such as water and air pollution, environmental influences and harmful chemicals in the food supply. As we interact within the world, both our internal and external worlds will undoubtedly get jostled out of balance. In order to maintain harmony and health, it is important to pay attention to the individual constitution to strengthen the body, mind and consciousness.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR CONSTITUTION
Your constitution and its inner balance
Ayurveda places great emphasis on disease prevention and encourages health management by paying close attention to balance in one’s life. This includes diet, lifestyle, right thought process and the use of herbs. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create a balance of the body and mind with one’s own individual constitution. Just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, each individual also has a distinct pattern of energy. This pattern of energy encompasses a combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics, which comprise their specific genetic code. This constitution is determined at conception and remains unchanged throughout life.
Many factors, both internal and external, can act on us and disturb the balanced state. Some of these influences include emotional and physical stress, diet and food choices, seasonal changes and weather, any trauma, relationships and how we perceive ourselves, as well as the interactions with the people that surround us.
Ayurveda views the human body as well as everything in the Universe as being composed of five primary elements; space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements are expressed nature, and similarly, the qualities of the elements exist in the body and the mind. The proportions of these elements within and around us have a profound influence on our physical development and psychological views and perspectives.
- Space (Ether) – Expansiveness, awareness, consciousness.
- Air – Movement, lightness, mobility, sensation, respiration, circulation
- Fire – Heat, intensity, metabolism, rhythmic movement
- Water – Fluidity, cooling, calming, graceful
- Earth – Stability, supportive, grounding, cooling, enriched
BALANCING THE 3 PRINCIPLES OF ENERGIES: THE DOSHAS
Elements: Air and Space
All motion requires vata; breathing, muscle movement, swallowing, blinking, urinating, bowel movements, pulsation of the heart, and nerve impulses and all movements in the cell membranes. Remember, if there is any movement, then vata is at play. Some qualities that are characteristic of vata include cold, dry, light, subtle, mobile, clear and expansive. When balanced, vata is generally, a slender built, light frame, flexible, creative mind, and an enthusiastic and joyful spirit. When too much vata is present, it will adversely affect these functions and will manifest an erosive energy. If too much vata shows up, there is irregular mobility, difficulty with focus and concentration, fear and anxiety, dry/rough tendencies in the skin, hair and nails, nervousness, interrupted sleep and an undesired lightness in the bones.
Elements: Fire and Water
When you think of Pitta, think transformation. Pitta governs the functions of metabolism and digestion, converting not only the food you ingest, but also the thoughts in your mind and the emotions in your heart. Pitta’s natural qualities are hot, sharp, oily, light, mobile and penetrating. In balance, pitta promotes understanding, intelligence, sharp perception and leadership. Out of balance, when the fire and heat of pitta can cause acid build up, irritation, agitation, short tempered, hatred and jealousy.
Elements: Water and Earth
Kapha is the energy that forms the body structure and stability. It is the ‘glue’ that holds the cellular structure together. The earth quality provides the foundation for all other things to develop. The water aspect lubricates joints, moisturizes skin and supports the immune system. Kapha’s natural qualities are heavy, cold, dull, oily, smooth, dense, stable, cloudy and hard. In balance, Kapha is expressed as love, calmness, forgiveness, compassion and patience. Out of balance, it will lead to excess weight and heaviness, depression, inflexibility, possessiveness, attachment, greed and envy.
HARMONIZING HEALTH & WELLNESS
Once you know your prakriti (your unique constitution/dosha balance), you can actively promote well being. The key is to keep your vata, pitta and kapha in balance. This is something that you tend to regularly – daily in fact!!
The ideal time to begin paying attention to the doshas is before there is any sign of imbalance. This is a true preventative approach to health. In this paradigm, your daily routine will be the most powerful ally in supporting health.
Ayurveda utilizes various techniques for assessing health. Careful evaluation of key signs and symptoms of illness, especially in relation to the origin and the root cause of the imbalance is addressed. In summary, Ayurveda incorporates all aspects of life – the body, mind and spirit. It recognizes that each individual is unique and responds differently to the many aspects of life. Thought this ancient science and wisdom, Ayurveda presents a vast wealth of information to maintain health and harmony.
AYURVEDA CLEANSING: PANCAKARMA
Pacify, Detoxify, Purify and Rejuvenate – Inevitably, are all impacted with various influences that cause subtle or profound imbalances. Ayurveda considers any health concern and arrives at a diagnostic protocol or treatment plan. Palliative and cleansing measures, when appropriate can be used to help eliminate or manage the root cause of the imbalance. Ayurveda aims to restore the vitality of your body to its fullest capacity and to keep the body young and fit at any age of your life.
WHAT’S THE IMPORTANCE OF CLEANSING?
In Ayurvedic medicine, digestion is the key to maintaining health and longevity. In fact, a high
percentage of many symptoms are a manifestation of weak gastrointestinal performance. A strong digestion means a strong body. Digestion is a reflection of your physical-mental-emotional state of balance. Poor dietary habits, stress and environmental pollutants can weaken your digestion.This results in an accumulation of toxins (known as ama in ayurveda), which in turn causes disease pathology. Signs of poor digestion and toxins are fatigue, lack of mental clarity, weight gain and recurrent infections, headaches and various body aches. Ayurveda recommends a program of internal cleansing at every change of seasons to clear the channels of the body of toxins that may have built up over the previous season. Detox is particularly recommended in Fall and Spring season for your body’s natural cleansing and rejuvenating mechanism to align with all of nature. A complete at-home Ayurvedic detoxification routine involves three phases — preparation, cleansing and post-cleansing. Detailed instructions, including daily guidelines for each phase will be reviewed.This is a perfect opportunity to experience traditional aspects of Ayurvedic Medicine and adapt tools for living a healthy and harmonious lifestyle.
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