Emerging after the Vedas and existing for 5,000 years, Ayurveda is the oldest tradition of holistic healing practiced in the world. The name is derived from Ayus, meaning “life” and Veda, meaning “knowledge.” Ayurveda is “the Science of Life” and provides a complete method of establishing and maintaining physical health and wellbeing.
Ayurveda recognizes health as the harmony of mind, body, senses, and soul. It is the Sister Science of Yoga.
Ayurveda is deeply rooted in nature’s wisdom to organize and balance. It teaches that humans are living expressions of their environment. Because we coexist with nature, it is important to live in harmony with both our external and internal natures. As we move toward nature, our vitality increases. As we move away from nature, disease increases. The main purpose of Ayurveda is to live in such a way that balance in body, mind, and soul are maintained.
The Five Elements
Ayurveda relates to the entire physical world in terms of the five elements: Akasha (ether), Vayu (air), Agni/Tejas (fire), Aap (water), and Prithvi (earth). These elements represent movements of energy and are key to understanding our unique nature and our place in the universe. Balance is achieved and maintained when we are in sync with nature’s rhythm. Ayurveda focuses on treating the whole being.
Ayurveda is based on the knowlegde of the five elemenents. Yoga is the mastery of the 5 elements. Therefore, Yoga is essential for the existence of Ayurveda.
The five elements combine in three ways, referred to as the three Doshas
: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Doshas are biological energies found throughout the body that govern physical, mental, and emotional processes.
Vata, the combination of ether and air, is the energy of movement.
Pitta, the combination of fire and air, is the energy of transformation.
Kapha, the combination of earth and water, is the energy of structure.
We each have a dominant Dosha that matches our physical appearance and typically a combination of two doshas that dominates our physiology and emotions. Our physical Dosha does not change, but our internal body Dosha/s are in constant flux depending on factors such as diet, activity, emotions, weather, etc.
The practice of the yogi is to learn to recognize these influences and make adjustments to create balance and harmony with all three Doshas. Ultimately, we are all tri-dosha.
The teachings of Ayurveda are vast. With yoga, the practice of Ayurveda has the possibility of creating freedom in your whole being. A deeper exploration of Ayurveda complements a yogic lifestyle and is supported by attention to digestive fire, daily and seasonal routines, Sattvic foods, yoga and pranayama practices, sadhana, sound sleep, maintaining authentic communities, and connecting to the Divine within and without.