Ayurveda, a system of diet, healing and health maintenance, is probably the oldest science of life, just like the science of Yoga.
Ayurveda includes all aspects of daily life like:
Maintenance of health
Prevention of disease
Harmonization of body and mind
Holistic and complimentary healing techniques
Ayurveda combines Oga, meditation, food, natural preparations, cleansing and regenerative treatments. The overall effect is physical strength, better health, mental clarity, inner peace and calmness.
Ayurveda is a science of life so to know more about it, we must know what is life. Life, according to Ayurveda, is a combination of senses, mind, body and soul. It is clear from this definition of life that Ayurveda is not only limited to body or physical symptoms but also gives a comprehensive knowledge about spiritual, mental and social health.
Role of ayurveda
Ayurveda teaches us to understand our body; our particular nature; and our individual mixture of elements at a deep physical, mental and emotional level. With that knowledge we are able to identify activities, conditions, herbs and foods that either keep us healthy and in balance, or make us ill and throw us out of balance.
Ayurveda and health
Ayurveda forms an integral part of the daily regimen of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Its principles are utilized not only to treat persons who are ill but also to prepare a balanced meal and to construct a harmonious environment to live in. Ayurveda brings to life the concepts of preventive health care and health promotion. The goal of Ayurveda is to help an individual discover the knowledge of living and health. Health is the state of harmonious chemical balance in a living organism. Our health depends on the chemical environments inside and outside our bodies. Food plays an important role in creating the internal chemical environment.
The five elements
Our very existence is the interplay of different frequencies of vibrations, which have been classified into a system of five elements by the Ayurvedic seers and sages. These five elements are the agents of the primary inertia principle of consciousness and are the materialized form of the universal energy. Akasha, or Ether, evolved first and is the subtlest of the five elements. From it comes air, from air evolves fire, from fire evolves water and from water comes earth. The human body, which is composed of these elements, is also nourished and maintained by them.
The starting point for many people into the ancient scientific art of Ayurveda is the relationship of the three Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Ayurveda sees life as a harmonic flow, a dynamic balance of those three fundamental forces:
Vata – (wind, air) the principle of movement and impulse
Pitta – (bile, fire) the principle of assimilation and transformation
Kapha – (mucus, water) the principle of stability
These forces act in everOne. When they are in balance they bring well-being and health, in imbalance they lead to feeling unwell and later disease. Everybody is unique and Ayurveda respects this uniqueness. That is why there are individual constitution types, Doshas, in the body.
Out of the three basic forces seven categories can be formed:
Wind dominated individuals (vata)
Bile dominated individuals (pitta)
Mucus dominated individuals (kapha)
Wind and Bile dominated individuals (vata and pitta)
Wind and Mucus dominated individuals (vata and kapha)
Bile and mucus dominated individuals (pitta and kapha)
Wind, bile and mucus dominated individuals (vata and pitta and kapha in equal proportion)
The three constitutional types – The Gunas
There are three basic constitutional types. To live a long and healthy life, Ayurveda states it is necessary for us to recognize them in ourselves and be able to preserve their balance with nature. It is possible, though, to take a step back and study the mind as Ayurveda clearly tells us that we create what our minds dictate. So do we have any control over our thoughts? Ayurveda says yes, but not in the sense of thought manipulation. We are told that the mind has three tendencies or qualities.
Satva, the principle of contentment, joy, peace and harmony.
Rajas, the principle of energy, of change, emotion and turbulence
Tamas, the principle towards rest, dullness, inertia, depression and resistance
To progress thrugh life in a harmonious way, it is suggested that we increase Satva and keep a pinch of Rajas and Tamas to accommodate movement and rest.
All three Gunas enhance the qualities of the three Doshas.
A mind tendency toward Satva will encourage the qualities of intelligence, perception and strong digestion found in the Pitta Dosha.
If the mind of the Pitta type is Rajasic, restlessness, irritation, heat and anger will be dominant, and,
eventually, through exhaustion, tipping over into dullness and depression. Which are the signs of Tamas.
To help ourselves live a joyful and fulfilled life, we can become aware of our lifestyle and use tools such as breathing techniques, asanas and meditation to calm and integrate the nervous system. Being with like-minded people helps, and of course will food play a significant role.
The food is either satvic, rajasic or tamasic according to its character and effect upon the body and the mind. One can find out the nature or temperament of a man from the nature of the food he prefers.
Satvic foods are fresh, juicy, light, unctuous, nourishing, sweet and tasty.
It increases the energy of the mind and produces cheerfulness, serenity and mental clarity.
satvic food is highly conducive to good health.
A satvic man relishes juicy food and other foods which are attractive in form, soft to touch and pleasant to taste, which are small in bulk but great in nourishment like the words from the lips of a spiritual preceptor.
Milk, butter, ghee (clarified butter), fresh ripe fruits, almonds, dates, green gram, sprouts, barley, wheat, cereals, tomatoes, plantains etc., are satvic.
Rajasic foods are bitter, sour, salty, pungent, hot and dry.
These foods create sensuality, sexuality, greed, jealousy, anger, delusion, fantasies, egotism and irreligious feelings.
The rajasic man always plans to prepare various kinds of preparations to satisfy his palate. The palate remains unsatisfied until the stomach is completely filled with pungent things and till the tongue is burnt with chillies.
Pungent condiments, meat, fish, eggs, sweets, fried bread, curd, egg plant, carrots, black gram, onions, garlic, lemon, red gram, tea, coffee, betel leaves, tobacco are rajasic articles of food.
Tamasic food is stale, dry, bad smelling, distasteful or unpalatable.
It increases pessimism, ignorance, lack of common sense, greed, laziness, criminal tendencies and doubt.
The tamasic man will eat, in the afternoon, food which has been cooked on the previous day and also will like the food which is half-cooked or burnt.
Foods that have been processed, canned or frozen are tamasic.
Beef, fish, eggs, wine, garlic, onions and tobacco are tamasic foodstuffs.
Ayurveda places responsibility firmly on the individual to be aware of his or her relationship with nature and she gives us the tools to correct imbalances before they develop into full-blown disease.
Sri Kalki says that it is essential to have a healthy body free of mucus in order to attain the state of altered consciousness of enlightenment. A deeper knowledge about Ayurveda will help sincere seekers to understand their bodies and minds from the Annamaya Kosha’s point of view so that it helps in the enlightenment process.