Ayurveda means the science of life. It is a Sanskrit word that combines ayur (life) Veda (Knowledge/Science). Ayurveda is the most ancient comprehensive science of health and wellbeing originating in India in the Vedic era, by some estimates from 8000 years ago.
LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE
Ayurveda sees your food as medicine: as you eat, so you are. It offers dietary and lifestyle advice as also an extensive range of formulations for internal consumption and external application made from natural herbs and nutrients for enabling and accompanying us to sustain our balance and harmony in the ups and downs of life.
Indian spices in what is known as Indian cuisine are primarily Ayurvedic herbs that are still widely known among people for their healing and enabling benefits.
In Indian households, these natural elements found their way into food as spices and recipes. For example, Turmeric that is now found by modern research to be anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory has been used in Indian kitchens since time immemorial and is what gives the Indian curry it’s distinctive yellow color.
Even now grandmothers would urge you to drink Turmeric milk to hasten the healing of a wound or inflammation. Or put a salve of Turmeric to heal your wound or brighten your skin.
The shared wisdom was always that if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.
DOSHAS & GUNAS
In Vedic Vision, of which Ayurveda is a part, as the microcosm of our being mirrors the macrocosm of the Cosmos, we have the Cosmic Creative Power flowing through us and in Nature. Our five sense organs are expressions of the five cosmic elements viz. Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.
Our matter-energy-consciousness composition is characterized by three physical and mental tendencies in us. The physical or biological tendencies are called Vata-Pitta-Kapha and their mental and subtle counterparts are Sattva-Rajas-Tamas.
Just as the five elements exist in all so do the three doshas and gunas. All that varies is their permutation and combination creating the distinct individual blueprint for each.
Vata’s bioenergy connected to the elements of air and space is said to control movement in the body and mental balance. Pitta’s bioenergy related to the elements of fire and water controls metabolic processes in the body and mental power. Kapha’s bioenergy coming from the elements of earth and water give the body solidity, strength and is connected to expansive emotions of care and compassion.
The gunas work as follows: Tamas refers to the latent potential energy in us; Rajas refers to the active kinetic energy in us; and Sattva is the pure essence or highest purpose of the process. If you take the metaphor of a lamp then the latent energy of the oil is akin to tamas, the burning light on the wick is akin to Rajas, and the light itself is akin to the Sattva
We all have all elements and all gunas and doshas in a unique personal combination, where some are more dominant than the others. Each person has a different matrix of energy and aspirations, and these are ever in movement. Likewise these gross and subtle tendencies are innate in the food we eat and in the natural supplementation we take.
ONENESS AND BALANCE
Ayurveda comes from a holistic philosophy where the human being is a microcosm connected inextricably to the macrocosm. An old Vedic verse says, “Aham Brahmasmi,” meaning I and the Universe are One. So all that exists in the Universe also exists in the human being, as we are a part of Nature, and not apart from it.
This abiding Oneness and underlying unity among all in Nature is the journey of your individual practice of Ayurveda, also known as the Yoga of Herbs. And in this personal journey of harmony, balance, vigor and fulfillment, Ayurveda is your eternal companion.
Ayurveda is rooted in the concept of balance and harmony: where lasting health and wellness can only result from ceaseless and seamless harmony between the whole spectrum of our being and becoming as it moves through life. Balancing within, our energies encompass the manifold dynamics taking place at every moment at the levels of mind, body and soul. A fine balancing act is required at all moments among our diverse energies that are at once spirited and passionate (rajas/pitta), potentially powerful (tamas/kapha), and blissfully free and pure (sattva/vata).
Any vitiation or disharmony in the natural order of balance in spirit, energy and body results in illness or disease, and is manifested in psychosomatic symptoms.