AYURVEDA IS A SANSKRIT WORD THAT MEANS THE SCIENCE OF LIFE
It is an ancient art of healing that has been practiced continuously throughout India for over 5,000 years. Ayurveda is probably the oldest, authentically recorded healing science in existence today, incorporating many philosophical systems and the integration of body, mind, and consciousness. Ayurveda seeks to understand and correct imbalances and to restore the innate intelligence and harmony of the person. It gives us the insight to understand individual constitution and to create balance within and around us. According to Ayurveda each person is unique, a combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics which is his or her constitution. Many factors, both internal and external, can affect this constitution. Examples of some of these stresses are: one’s emotional state, diet and daily food choices, seasons and weather, physical trauma, job and family relationships. Once we understand that these factors can cause an imbalance in our constitution, we have a choice to take appropriate actions to nullify or minimize their effects, or eliminate the cause. Balance is the natural order, imbalance is disorder. Health is order, disease is disorder. Within the body there is a constant interaction between order and disorder. Once one understands the nature and structure of disorder, one can re-establish order. Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or functional principles which are present in everybody and everything. There is no single word in English to describe these types of energies, so we use the Sanskrit words Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Energy is required to create movement of fluids and nutrients to the cells of the body, enabling it to function. There is also energy needed to metabolize the nutrients in the cells, and energy is needed to lubricate and maintain cellular structure.
Vata is the energy of movement, Pitta the energy of digestion and metabolism, and Kapha the energy of lubrication and structure. All people have Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, one is usually primary, the other secondary, and the third least prominent. Disease in Ayurveda is viewed as the lack of proper cellular function because of excess or deficiency of Vata, Pitta or Kapha and/or the presence of toxins. In Ayurveda body, mind, and consciousness work together in maintaining balance.
To learn how to balance body, mind and consciousness, requires an understanding of how Vata, Pitta, and Kapha work together. In the physical body, Vata, composed of Space and Air, is the subtle energy associated with movement. It governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart, and all movements in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. In balance, Vata, promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, Vata produces fear and anxiety. Pitta, made up of Fire and Water, is represented by the body’s metabolic system. It governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, and body temperature. In balance, Pitta promotes understanding and intelligence. Out of balance, Pitta arouses anger, hatred, and jealousy. Kapha is formed from Earth and Water and is the energy that forms the body’s structure bones, muscles, tendons and provides the glue that holds the cells together. Kapha supplies the water to all bodily parts and systems. It lubricates joints, moisturizes the skin, and maintains immunity. In balance, Kapha is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. Out of balance, it leads to attachment, greed, and envy. Life challenges us with many opportunities. Although there is a lot over which we have little control, we still do have the power to decide about our diet and lifestyle. To maintain balance and health, it is important to pay attention to these decisions. Diet and lifestyle appropriate to individual’s constitution strengthen the body, mind, and consciousness.
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