Foundations of Ayurveda

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dosha

Ayurveda means the science or wisdom of life and is the sister science to Yoga. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term, made up of two words ”ayu” and “veda”. 

  • Ayu = Life
  • Veda = Science, Wisdom, Knowledge

It is one of the most ancient and comprehensive sciences in the world and has its origins in the Vedas, said to be the oldest and richest text of wisdom on spiritual knowledge on the planet. Ayurveda comes from the Atharva-veda and originated in India five-six thousand years ago.

Ayurveda is a science for the mind, body and spirit and provides practical tools for wellness. It is a holistic and consciousness-based approach to health that brings harmony and balance to all areas of life. It is wisdom that helps us understand the universal laws of nature and looks at our essential being as energetic. It also considers the fact that the relationship between the human being and the universe is intrinsic and cannot be separated. Ayurveda emphasizes balance and harmony with help from nature itself. This dynamic balance needs to be achieved in all aspects of a person’s life: physical, biochemical, intellectual, emotional, behavioral, spiritual, familial, social, environmental and universal. Ayurveda considers the multi-dimensional nature of the body, mind and spirit and places emphasis on disease prevention with the help of diet, daily routines, seasonal consideration, elemental and planetary connection.

Ayurveda believes that the universe is made up of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. These elements are building blocks for the universe as well as for humans. From the combination of these elements, three “doshas” or energies: Vata, Pitta and Kapha are originated. In addition to the five elements Ayurveda uses “gunas” or qualities to describe the elements and various phenomena throughout the natural world. 

Ayurveda relies on 20 qualities known as the Gunas – organized into 10 pairs of opposites.

Reducing, Lightening, Catabolic Gunas Building, Nourishing, Anabolic Gunas
Light Heavy
Sharp Dull
Hot Cold
Dry Oily, Moist
Rough Smooth
Liquid Dense
Hard Soft
Mobile Stable
Subtle Gross
Clear Cloudy

One of Ayurveda’s foundational principles is that like increases like and that opposites bring balance. Therefore, identifying the qualities involved in an imbalance or dis-ease can help to direct an appropriate application of an opposite quality to return the body, mind or spirit back to balance or back to its original state of wellness and wholeness.

The five elements are forces behind all the physical processes in our own body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda teaches us that the whole world, from the largest mountain to the tiniest atom in our body is composed of the five essential elements. Through these elements we have a foundation to relate ourselves as a natural and unique expression of nature itself. Through observation of the elemental qualities we are then able to return balance through applying the opposite elemental quality.

Panchamahabhutas - Five Great Elements

Ether (Space, connectednes) Air (Motion) Fire (Heat, transformation) Water (Flow) Earth (Solidity)
Light Mobile Hot Moist Heavy
Dry Light Light Heavy Dry
Cold Cold Dry Cold Cold
Unstable Dry Unstable Stable Very stable
Subtle Rough Sharp Soft

Hard

 

The Doshas

When the Panchamahabhutas (5 elements) combine they give rise to the doshas. These three doshas; Vata, Pitta and Kapha, are found in our body. They are responsible for all biological and physiological functions and are present in all of us.

Dosha Elements Action Qualities (Gunas)
Vata Air + Ether MOTION - The energy of action, transportation, impulses, circulation, respiration, elimination and movement Dry, rough, cold, subtle and mobile
Pitta Fire + Water METABOLISM - The energy of transformation, conversion, temperature, heat, chemical reactions and digestion Oily, sharp, hot, light, moving, liquid, acidic smell
Kapha Water + Earth STRUCTURE - The energy of construction, lubrication, protection, growth and nourishment Moist, cold, heavy, dull, soft, sticky and static

 

 

  • Fire

    As fire enhances willpower, find inner strength and personal transformation based on kindness and unconditional self-love. Find your own personal balance - be strength and softness.

  • Air

    As air is dynamic movement, learn how to use this movement to shift old habits and serve your Higher self for a conscious and awake life.

  • Earth

    As the Earth is stable, create a consistent foundation for practicing yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation. Embody a vibrant and spiritually connected life.

  • Water

    As water must adapt, learn how to flow with and accept changes, manage stress and reduce anxiety. Ride the waves of life with equanimity, deep trust and love.

  • Ether

    As ether surrounds us, create space to grow and develop on all levels – mind, body, spirit. Find connection to the wisdom of the universe within.