Yoga & Wellness
The Natural Healing Essence of Ayurveda
BY JANET WATKINS, CO-FOUNDER LIVE IN JOY YOGA
Ayurveda, “the science of life”, is the traditional medicine, the natural healing system of India dating back more than 5,000 years. Ayurveda is one of the most comprehensive healing systems in the world, dealing integrally with body, mind and spirit. It is a science or a way of knowledge about life, its powers and its resources, teaching us to take responsibility for our own health. It is a humanistic and person-centered medicine that teaches us how to find our own natural health by concentrating on the individual and balancing the life force within instead of focusing on the external, or just treating the symptoms.
The sages of ancient India created the system of yoga to deal with spiritual suffering and ayurveda to deal with mental and physical suffering. According to the Vedic seers, there are three basic forces in existence: a principle of energy that gives movement (Vata, elements of air and space); the principle of light (Pitta, elements of fire and water); and the principle of cohesion (Kapha, elements of earth and water). They are the body’s three primary life forces or the three biological humors which correspond to the five elements.
Vata is the prime force of the nervous system—it is the life force deriving primarily from the breath that is the energizing force for the entire body. Pitta is responsible for chemical and metabolic transformations in the body, governing both our digestion of food and our mental digestion, our capacity to perceive things as they are. Kapha gives nourishment, provides substance and gives support, making up the bulk of our bodily tissues and also governs positive emotions such as love and forgiveness. Primarily we have two of the humors as our primary life force, some people have all three and some will only have one but all three exist within us.
There are different methods of discovering the biological humors (doshas) governing each of us. The one most popular is completing an online questionnaire and will only really provide an answer to one’s mental constitution. The most accurate way is by visiting an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant, Practitioner, that may ask questions but will also employ other methods such as taking a pulse reading, looking at the eyes, listening to the client and more.
The drugs used in modern medicine have been changing rapidly since their inception while the basic nature of the human body remains the same. The medicine of one generation can sometimes become useless or even harmful for the next. Ayurvedic principles and methods have remained constant throughout time unlike the variability of modern medicine.
Ayurveda is both a system of medicine in the conventional sense of treating disease and a way of life that teaches how to maintain health and improve self-awareness. It is not a passive form of treatment—it does not give the patient a treatment or remedy and send them away. It requires that the patients themselves must take active roles in their treatment.