Introduction To Ayurveda Series, Part One: The Principles!

Introduction To Ayurveda Series, Part One: The Principles!

How can we bring more understanding and balance to our lifestyles? Many believe the answers are rooted in a wellness-creating healthcare system called Ayurveda. Its origin traces back more than 5000 years, to the oldest Indian Scriptures, The Vedas. There are many layers to this Science of Life, so stay tuned as we roll out more details through this three-part series. In this series we will learn about creating balance in the body through Ayurveda practices, techniques and routines that support our health and well-being.


What Is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda translates to Knowledge of Life, “Ayur” means “Life”, “Veda” means “Knowledge” it is also referred to as Mother of All Healing and Science of Self-Healing. It aims to create health and well-being through advice on lifestyle tendencies, daily and seasonal routines and diet choices to maximize health and prevent illness. The intention is to maintain balance and harmony in body, mind and environment. 


Ayurveda increases our prana, otherwise known as vital life force energy, through herbs, spices, oils, massage and routine. The origin of Ayurveda is thought to be Divine. This holistic knowledge of healing was passed onto the sages for the well-being of mankind. “Shlokas” are poems that describe the healing properties of herbs. If ill health occurs on any level, it indicates an imbalance of energy and/or intelligence of the body/mind and needs to recharge with nature’s wisdom. Spend time with nature and allow nature to connect with you. Consume nature’s foods which are consistently found to increase health, vitality and well-being. 



Four Aspects That Encourage Good Health

The balance of the Doshas is health and imbalance is disease. This Vedic Healthcare system explains four aspects of the body to encourage good health: 


  1. Doshas
    - The three Doshas are energies within all of our bodies and minds. We always have a mix of the three, but oftentimes we will have a dominant dosha or two dominant doshas hyphenated. If balanced in all three doshas, it’s called Tri-dosha. 

  2. Dhatus
    - The seven Dhatus/Tissues that create the body’s physical form. Healthy Dhatus allow the body to create Ojas, which is a substance that supports health and prana (life force energy).

These tissues work in coordination for proper physiological functioning. Food gets digested by Agni and is turned into the seven Dhatus:
1. Plasma
2. Blood
3. Muscles & Skin
4. Fat
5. Bone
6. Nerve Tissue & Bone Marrow
7. Reproductive Tissue

     

    Ojas is the last to form in the chain, and some refer to it as the 8th Dhatu. Ojas is a substance that offers protection of the tissues.


    Agni - Internal fire, the main form is digestive, which digests food and allows strong tissues to form while preventing the build-up of undigested foods, otherwise known as “Ama” or toxins.


    Malas
    - Waste, the body’s excretions (urine, stool, sweat). Passing in a timely manner helps keep the boys balanced. Build up of Ama/toxins results in disease. 

     


    Three Doshas

    You may have already heard of the Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Every being has all three, but one or two may reign as dominant according to your personal constitution. Perhaps you’ve taken a quiz like this one to see which is your dominant dosha at a particular time. For a healthy state, strive for a balance between the three. Each Dosha associates with corresponding elements of the Universe, which give insight into their characteristics and properties. 

     

    1. Vata: Ether or Space (Akasha) & Air (Vayu)

    Vata Dosha is responsible for all movement and change within the body. Its characteristics are subtle, light, mobile and dry. 

     

    1. Pitta: Fire (Agni/Tejas) & Water (Jala)

    Pitta Dosha is in charge of transformation and metabolism within the body. Its characteristics are heat, sharpness, fluidity and oiliness. 

     

    • Kapha: Water (Jala) & Earth (Prithivi)

    Kapha Dosha maintains substance and fluidity within the body. Its characteristics are heaviness, stability, oiliness and smoothness. 

     

    How Can We Create More Health?

    The Ayurvedic Lifestyle highlights three things to take better care of our bodies: 


        • Routine - an ideal framework is to eat, sleep, and wake at the same time each day.

        • Moderation - provides balance to our life and prevents overindulgence. Lapses in judgment are common and may be a catalyst on the road to illness. For example, we make unhealthy choices in pursuit of pleasure, even though we know better (overloading the stomach, disrupting sleep cycles, suppressing natural urges such as crying, yawning, or even going to the bathroom).

      • Natural Rhythms - tune into the flow of Doshas and Agni, which are constantly changing based on the time of day, our age and the season.

     

    Morning Routine For Balance in Mind and Body

    Cleanliness is a key part to Ayurveda. Review this morning routine and choose one or two that interest you. Ideally, you would perform these routines everyday, but new changes are best built into your lifestyle routine gradually. Begin to incorporate small changes one at a time:


    • 1. Brush your teeth
    • 2. Clean your tongue using a tongue scraper (silver or copper, not plastic)
    • 3. Perform oil pulling, using coconut oil to pull through your teeth helps cleanse your mouth and strengthen your gums
    • 4. Refresh your eyes, pat with cold water
    • 5. Clear your nasal passages, use a neti-pot
    • 6. Perform Nasya, apply a balancing oil (such as coconut oil for cooling or sesame oil for warming) at your nostrils
    • 7. Have a glass of hot or warm water in the morning to help ignite Agni, lubricate the body and support bowel movement. Clear your bowels, regularly, 2-3 times a day is healthy elimination.
    • 8. Inhale aromas, aromatherapy and smudging
    • 9. Perform an oil massage (detailed instructions outlined in the next article)
    • 10. Shower or take a bath, use a dry brush first, brush towards the heart to support circulation and stimulate lymph flow. When showering, avoid using very hot water on your head to protect your hair and eyes.
    • 11. Movement like yoga and time for mindful meditation

     

    Reflections

    Understanding your tendencies and honoring the signals from your body is essential to finding healthy balance for your unique body and mind. The dietary and lifestyle recommendations will change based on the season and your personal constitution’s needs for balance. Remember, the heart of Ayurveda’s comprehensive approach emphasizes prevention of disease and

    promotes optimal health and well-being. Follow simple strategies like a daily hygiene routine and connecting with nature to boost balance, cleanliness, and in turn our health.

     

    Looking Forward

    Next, we’ll dive deeper into the characteristics and elements of each Dosha. Discover indicators of your unique nature and how we can help pacify Doshas when they fluctuate out of balance. There will also be an overview of how to perform an oil massage and we’ll discuss the five senses, the six flavors and how they impact our constitution. You don’t want to miss any of this three-part series, so stay tuned for our next blog post!

     

    Information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Please work with your trusted healthcare provider for your personal health goals.


    This blog was written by 
    Meg Ramirez, please click here to learn more about the author.

     

     

    References - 

     

    Holistic Knowledge of Healing: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5198827/#sec3title

     

    Oil pulling: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19336860/

     

    Comprehensive Approach: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18047449/

     

    [Others]

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24766404/

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18928138/

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18166127/

    More on oil pulling - 

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36292438/

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29085271/

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