Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit roots “ayu” and “veda”, which means “life” and “knowledge”.
Complete Science of Life
7 Basic Concepts to Help Define Ayurveda
Ayurveda and Panchakarma
-By: Dr. Sunil V. Joshi, MD (Ayu)
The Unchanging Nature of Ayurvedic Science
Unlike western medicine that new theories often render previous understanding completely obsolete within a short period of time, Ayurveda has stood the test of time as its basic principals have never changed because they were derived from universal laws of nature which are eternally true.
The Subjective Methods of Understanding
Ayurveda incorporates a more subjective or intuitive approach to gaining knowledge. It recognizes that much of life cannot be studied objectively because it is non-physical. Dr. Joshi explains that the unseen intelligence which orchestrates the process of growth and differentiation in a fetus (or in the healing of a disease) cannot be analyzed or investigated by the senses, even with the aid of technological means.
The Five Element Theory
Human life is part of nature. This idea sets it apart from other healing modalities. The Mahabhutas or cosmic elements are the fundamental principles of Ayurveda. These are intelligences that present themselves as the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether. All matter consists of combinations of these five elements.
The Theory of the Three Doshas
All processes within the human physiology are controlled by a combination of these 5 elements. Vata is the principal that governs all motion or movement and is made up from air and ether elements; Pitta controls all transforming processes and is made of fire and water elements. Kapha is responsible for cohesion, growth and liquefaction. Kapha consists of earth and water elements. Human life can only exist with all three of these processes.
The most useful tool that Ayurveda has to offer for maintaining an ideal state of health is that of Prakruti. Each human being is born with a unique combination of the elements. And it is this combination that is responsible for the physical, mental and emotional differences among people. Ayurveda can help each person create his or her own state of ideal health, by identifying and maintaining an individual Prakruti.
The Effects of the Seasons
Environment plays a huge role in Ayurveda. Ayurveda considers that a particularly important effect on health comes from seasonal changes and climatic conditions. Each change of season brings with it shifts in wind conditions, temperature and humidity or rainfall. As the elements in the environment change, the balance of the doshas within our bodies will be impacted. If we can recognize and respond to these changes in the environment, we will be able to better maintain homeostasis, an ideal balance of the doshas within our bodies.
Panchakarma: The Science of Rejuvenation
The body possesses a natural healing intelligence and is capable of constantly rejuvenating itself. Toxic impurities form when the elements or dosha become imbalanced and the digestive capacity is weakened. When too many toxins exist, the natural healing capacity of the body gets blocked. Panchakarma is a process in which the body is purified of these toxins and the body “unblocks” its natural ability to rejuvenate.