Ayurveda is thousands of years old science of life and longevity having its roots in India. The word Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, which translates to mean the knowledge of life.
Ayurveda is considered knowledge of life or science of life because human life in Ayurveda is perceived as a combination of mind, body, senses and soul. To achieve good health Ayurveda emphasizes on balance of mind-body and soul, which is at the same time in balance and harmony with its environment.
To achieve this balance Ayurveda teaches simple but powerful techniques of self care through daily routine and seasonal routine. Ayurveda also gives immense importance to to digestive health, and emphasizes eating according to digestive strength and season. According to Ayurveda not only what we eat and how we eat is important but how we digest is also very important.
Daily routine , seasonal routine, lifestyle and digestive health are at the core of Ayurvedic way of life. It brings balance and harmony and helps us live a healthy, happy and long life.
Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda
Ayurveda and Yoga have roots in Samkhya philosophy, they both share their theory of the origin of the universe. According to which universe is formed from unmanifest, Avyakta.
Avyakta is a Sanskrit word which means unmanifested. The avyakta principle is the unmanifested form of pure existence. It has 2 main components.
Purusha is absolute, pure consciousness. It is a potential energy. It does not take an active part in the creation but is only an observer. It exists as a witness to the creation- choiceless, colorless, formless non-material entity.
Prakruti is the creative, primordial and active form that plays the main role in the creation of the Universe. Prakruti is a Sanskrit word that translates as to – root nature. This root nature is a science in which three active principles are in balanced condition, these three active principles are three attributes named Satwa,Rajas,and Tamas.These three attributes passing through many intermediate stages from subtle to gross, form the five basic elements called Ether or space, air, fire, water and earth. All matter and psyche, is characterized by these three attributes or Guna. satwa, stands for consciousness, Rajas for energy and dynamism, and Tamas stands for mass, inertia and stability.They are also referred to as mental attributes. Their characteristic features are- Satwa- Peace, purity, joy, happiness, kindness, forgiveness, harmony, calmness, satisfaction, contentment.Rajas-Creation, vitality, vigor, action, motion, desire, attachment, longings.Tamas-Ignorance, greed, darkness, grief, lethargy, laziness, fear, impurity.
Theory of Five Elements
is core to understanding Ayurveda. Anyone who doesn’t understand this theory, will not be able to understand Ayurveda. These elements are not the elements that we know as in chemistry, they are the elements of cosmic energy.
These five Elements are Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Their characteristic features are-
1.Space- subtle, vast, no boundaries, cold.
2.Air – mobile, cold, rough, dry, light.
3.Fire- hot, sharp, light, oily, soft.
4.Water- flowing, soft, heavy, moist.
5.Earth- heavy, stable, gross, dense, rough, hard.
Our bodies are made up of five elements as is everything else in this Universe.
In Ayurveda, the elemental composition of the human body is explained in the terms of Dosha, Dhatu and Mala.
Doshas are physiological entities of the body, responsible for all biological processes. They are unique as they have the potential to get and play a vital role in causing imbalance in our body and mind.
Doshas are three in number, named as Vata , Pitta and Kapha. Their elemental composition is decided on the dominance of elements in them, which is-
1.Vata – Space + Air
2.Pitta – Fire + Water
3.Kapha – Earth + Water
Dhatu are basically the body tissues which are responsible for the functioning of the systems and organs and the structure of the body. The 7 Dhatu of the body are Rasa (Plasma), Rakta (blood), Mamsa (muscles), Meda (fat), Asthi (bones), Majja (nervous tissue) and Shukra (reproductive tissue).
Mala – Malas are the metabolic wastes of the body, which include urine, stool, and sweat. Effective elimination of malas is said to be important for maintaining good health.
DIncharya (Daily Routine)
Ayurveda believes that to maintain a healthy and disease free life one should live a life of discipline. Following a daily routine or schedule is at the core of Ayurvedic lifestyle. Daily Routine or Ayurvedic Dinacharya is one of the best things that helps us not only stay healthy but also maintain wellbeing as a way of life.
“Dinacharya” is a Sanskrit word where ‘Din’ means ‘day’ and ‘charya’ means ‘to follow’. When we live in tune to the energy of day, we maintain balance with our environment.
Going to bed and getting up in the morning almost at the same time every day, brings regularity and increases productivity.
According to Ayurveda day starts early with the birds and before sunrise with cool, mobile, satwic Vata holding .. From 6 a.m. to 10 a.m the cool, heavy, earthy kapha dosha takes the charge. The middle of the day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is Pitta time, which is hot, sharp, and fiery “Dosha of digestion”. Light, dry, airy Vata is the Dosha of the afternoon starting from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., after which the cycle begins again.
To stay in sync, we should get up before sunrise, when Vata is transcendent. When we get up late, dense, dull, heaviness of kapha starts to color physical and mental experience with laziness, heaviness and lethargy.Vata is light, subtle and clear and this helps in tuning the body to the delicate signals of nature. It is the most fresh and pure time of the day, full of Sattva.
Some exceptions to this rule of rising early are the very young, the old, parents with small children, and people with fevers or diarrhea.
Ayurveda addresses each individual at the personal level. Dincharya for each of us is adjusted accordingly based on our unique mind and body type, age, place where we live and season. when we follow a daily routine suited to us, we create a life of health, joy and satisfaction.