Ayurveda Basics - The Basics Explained
I first came into contact with Ayurveda about a year and a half ago through a podcast. Before that, the term honestly meant nothing to me. In general, Ayurveda is often associated with yoga, meditation and foreign dishes. But Ayurveda is much more than just a medicine, a diet or a trend...
What is Ayurveda and where does it come from?
To understand Ayurveda, it is helpful to first understand the meaning of the word. The term comes from the ancient Indian Sanskrit and literally means “ knowledge of life ” ( Ayur = life, Vedas = science). The term already reflects the great diversity of Ayurveda. According to an old definition, the purpose of this science is “to maintain the health of the healthy and to treat the sick”.
In this original form, holistic health theory exists primarily in India, where it is taught scientifically and is also part of everyday life. In our western culture, however, the best place to come into contact with Ayurveda is in the wellness area. Since scientific teaching does not correspond to the evidence-based medicine we use everyday, it unfortunately always has to struggle with prejudices.
People who delve deeper into this traditional alternative medicine quickly become aware of its many benefits. Because Ayurveda combines the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual levels into one holistic system . You are concerned with creating a healthy life and maintaining it. I personally find this basic approach very interesting because it contrasts with the Western approach that is popular in our country. Here you don't just worry about your health when you're sick. In a sense, health is the basis of life that must be maintained. You want to achieve permanent, perfect health and exploit the greatest possible physical and mental potential.
Ayurveda emerged about 5,000 years ago when masters and doctors combined experience and philosophy. To this day, Ayurveda is a highly current health theory from which each and every one of us can benefit.
What is the dosha theory?
Ayurvedic teaching focuses on the five elements Water, air, ether, earth and fire. All life, all of nature and even humans are made up of these elements. In order to transfer the theory of elements to body and mind, Ayurveda combines the elements into three energies, the doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). Two elements with similar properties work in each of the doshas. It is important to emphasize that all three doshas occur in every organism. If the doshas are in balance, we are in harmony and everything runs smoothly. Most of the time, however, the doshas in us humans have different degrees of intensity, and one or two of the three energies are predominant (more on this later). Let's take a closer look at the three bioenergies:
- Vata (Air, Ether): These two elements are light, mobile, cold and dry. They combine to form “Vata” energy, which represents the principle of movement and regulates breathing, nervous system, circulation and (unconscious and conscious) motor processes in the body. This dosha is often referred to as the king dosha because it is the most influential of the three main energies. Vata shows itself in sensitivity, flexibility, creativity, lightness and comprehension.
- Pitta (Fire, Water): The properties of the elements fire and water together form the transformation or fire principle. Pitta therefore plays a particularly important role in our digestion - after all, metabolism is the largest conversion system in our body. Pitta is also revealed in body heat, charisma, temperament, eyesight and organizational skills.
- Kapha (Earth, Water): As a structural principle, the action of earth and water ensures that things hold together. For example, the “Kapha” energy is found in bone structure and tissue structure. It stabilizes the immune system and represents the body's mental and physical strength. Kapha represents not only resilience and stability, but also calmness, patience and caring.
What does “individual constitution” mean in the Ayurvedic context?
As already indicated, the three energies are present in every person - but in different proportions. This means that every person has a very individual constitution of doshas from birth Prakriti called. It represents our individual physical and mental abilities and talents. For example, a petite physique is characterized by Vata, a more pompous physique is characterized by Kapha and a sporty, dynamic physique is characterized by Pitta.
However, the teachings of Ayurveda do not ignore the fact that each of us is exposed to external influences from birth. That's why your physical and mental constitution can change throughout your life. The current constitution is called “ Vikriti ” and can be influenced by trauma or everyday stress.
An important goal of Ayurveda is to find back or realize one's own nature, i.e. Prakriti. When we live in our Prakriti, we feel completely in our element and experience happiness, contentment and lightness. On the other hand, if we suppress our dominant energy, it builds up and a disruption occurs. This can lead to short-term but also chronic illnesses.
This plays alongside the goal of finding your way back to your own primal energy Balance of energies a major role. Pitta, Kapha and Vata together form a three-way balance, and no dosha should become too excessive in the body or mind in the long term. An imbalance in the doshas also leads to illness or discomfort. Too much Kapha can mean obesity, too much Vata often leads to loss of appetite, and Pitta people experience heartburn more quickly than people with other predominant energies.
The teaching of Ayurveda is not about neutralizing the three doshas side by side. Rather, it is important to maintain your own natural balance of the three energies and thus to live out your very own nature in a creative way.
If you want to find out which constitution type you most closely match, you can do a dosha test here .
How does Ayurveda work, how does Ayurveda work?
Now that we know what is behind Ayurveda, the question arises as to how these theoretical principles are applied and lived in practice. Broadly speaking, there are three important approaches that you should know about Ayurveda:
1. MEDITATION AND YOGA
Mindfulness practices have many positive effects on our health. Yoga, for example, not only increases flexibility, but also serves as an effective stress reliever and can help with a wide variety of physical problems. Regular meditation also promotes our health in the long term. It improves our concentration, relieves feelings of stress, strengthens the immune system and heart, combats sleep problems and can even counteract mental illnesses. If you would like to learn more about the basics of meditation , please feel free to this blog entry view.
2. THERAPY APPROACHES
Ayurveda works, among other things, with massages and cleansing treatments to detoxify the body. In Ayurveda treatments, the focus is on each individual treatment. Not only current symptoms should be treated, but the person as a whole with their energies should be viewed and treated. Ayurvedic manual therapy and herbal medicine are examples of how nature-based healing methods are always used. In Ayurveda cures, yoga, relaxation and breathing exercises are also practiced in addition to the treatments. The whole thing is rounded off by Ayurvedic nutrition, which leads me to my third point.
3. AYURVEDIC DIET
Nutrition plays a special role in Ayurvedic teachings. The main emphasis here is on the right combination of foods. A dosha-typical diet is also important for a balanced, satisfied life. Since nutrition is such an important and exciting part of medicine, I would like to take a closer look at it in my next blog post. Here you can find the article about Ayurvedic nutrition.
If you would like to find out more about healthy eating, mindfulness, sustainability or family and pregnancy, check out more exciting blog articles on these topics here .