The Mother of All Healing
Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that is indigenous to and widely practiced in India. The word Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term meaning "science of life". Ayu means "life" or "daily living" and Veda is "knowing". Ayurveda was first recorded in the Vedas, the world's oldest sacred literature. This healing system has been practiced in daily life in India for more than 5,000 years and is rapidly gaining popularity in the West.
Ayurveda teaches that man is a microcosm, a universe within himself. He is a child of the cosmic forces of the external environment, the macrocosm. His individual existence is indivisible from the total cosmic manifestation. Ayurveda views health and "disease" in holistic terms, taking into consideration the inherent relationship between individual and cosmic spirit, individual and cosmic consciousness, energy and matter.
The human constitution is comprised of air, fire, water and earth, the five basic elements. It manifests in the human body as three basic principals or humours known as the tridosha. From the ether and air elements, the bodily air principal called vata. The fire and water elements manifest together in the body as the fire principal called pitta;. The earth and water elements manifest as the bodily water, humour known as kapha.
These three elements, vata, pitta and kapha govern all the biological, psychological and pathological functions of the body, mind and consciousness. They are the basic constituents and when out of balance they contribute to the disease process.
The basic constitution of each individual is determined at conception. The constitution is called prakruti in sanskrit, a term meaning the "original creation".
In the body, the first expression of the basic five elements is the constitution. This remains unaltered during the lifetime as it is genetically determined. The combination of elements present at birth remains constant. However, the combination of elements that governs the continuous physiological changes in the body alters in response to changes in one's environment. Throughout life, there is a ceaseless interaction between the internal and external environment. Healing with Ayurveda creates balance by working with the individual's diet and habits of living to counteract changes in his external environment.
The first requirement for healing oneself and others is a clear understanding of the three doshas. The concept of vata, pitta, kapha is unique to Ayurveda and it holds the potential for revolutionizing the healing system of the West. Within Canada there are now colleges, correspondence courses and a steady increase of Ayurvedically trained specialists to consult. It is very important to find a skilled practitioner to determine one's individual constitution. Then, one has the ability to work with diet and lifestyle changes, yoga, vedic astrology, breathing and meditation.
According to Ayurveda a daily routine plays a very important role in health. A natural life is a life regulated according to the individual's constitution. For example, a general routine for a creative, healthy life would unfold as:
* awaken before sunrise;
* evacuate bowels and bladder after awakening;
* bathe everyday to create a sense of freshness;
* do not take breakfast after 8 a.m.;
* wash hands before and after eating;
* brush teeth after meals;
* after meals take a short walk;
* eat in silence with awareness of food;
* eat slowly;
* each day massage the gums with the fingers and sesame oil;
* fast one day a week to help reduce toxins in the body;
* sleep before 10 p.m.
Diet and Digestion:
* one teaspoon of grated fresh ginger with a pinch of salt to enhance digestion;
* drinking lassi (buttermilk) with a pinch of ginger or cumin powder helps digestion;
* a teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter) with basmati rice helps digestion;
* a glass of warm milk with ginger taken at bedtime is nourishing to the body and calms the mind;
* over eating anytime is unhealthy;
* drinking water immediately before or after taking food adversely affects digestion and deludes the enzymes;
* prolonged fasting is unhealthy;
* consuming excess water may produce obesity;
* excess intake of cold and carbonated drinks reduces resistance and creates excess mucus.
* if possible, gaze at the rays of the sun at dawn for five minutes daily to improve eyesight;
* gazing at a steady flame (tratak), morning and evening for ten minutes improves eyesight;
* do not repress the natural urges of the body - for example, urination, coughing, sneezing, belching.
* during a fever do not eat and observe a ginger tea fast;
* rubbing the soles of the feet with sesame oil before bedtime calms the nervous system and helps one to get quiet;
* application of sesame oil to the head calms the head and induces sound sleep;
* oil massage promotes circulation and relieves excess vata;
* do not sleep on the belly;
* reading in bed will injure the eyesight;
* bad breath may indicate poor digestion, constipation, gum disease and toxins in the colon;
* body odour indicates toxins in the system;
* dry hair immediately after washing to prevent sinus problems;
* cracking of the joints may be injurious to the body and causes deranged vata.
* fear and nervousness dissipate energy and aggravate vata;
* possessiveness, greed and attachment enhance kapha;
* worry weakens the heart;
* hate, resentment and anger create toxins in the body and aggravate pitta;
* excessive talking dissipates energy and aggravates vata.
Ages of Human Life:
Time governs not only planetary movements but also the cycle of human life. The movement of time in the individual life is linked with the cycle of vata-pitta-kapha. Ayurveda teaches that there are three important cycles in the human lifetime: childhood, adulthood and old age. Childhood is the time of kapha and children may suffer kapha disorders such as lung congestion, cough, colds and mucus secretion. The time period of kapha lasts from birth to 16 years. Adulthood encompasses the years from 16 to 50. This is the time of pitta when the individual is active and full of vitality and subsequently pitta disorders are common at this time. Old age is the time of vata. In old age disorders will include vata ailments such as tremors, breathlessness, arthritis, circulatory problems, loss of memory and wrinkles.
Time encompasses the movements of the planets. The planets are closely related to the bodily organs. Of all the concepts of time, astrological time is the most significant for the human nervous system because of the powerful influence of the planets on the mind, body and consciousness.
Each planet is related to a specific bodily tissue. Mars, the red planet is related to the blood. Together with Jupiter that rules the liver, the liver being the seed of bile which is characterized by fire pitta, Mars and Jupiter influence the functioning of the liver and disorders that arise from that organ. Mars may also cause other pitta ailments such as increased toxins in the blood and together with the Sun, is responsible for inflammatory skin disorders. Ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel disease are also aggravated by the effects of Mars. Saturn is a very strong planet with profound effects. Its energy causes, for example, all kinds of bone and joint disorders and the wasting of muscle and overall emaciation. Saturn specifically causes dry skin. Venus is responsible for the sexual organs and the prostate gland, testicles and ovaries. Mercury governs the nervous system, the reasoning capacity and one's bio rhythm and subsequent disorders. To have a natal chart cast and study it, together with a competent astrologer, can point the way and illumine inherent constitutional strength and weaknesses and when they may be activated in the karmic stream of ones evolution. Upayas, remedial solutions, are ancient and abundantly available to the sincere seeker exploring a renewed balance of body, mind, heart and spirit thru the applied practise of Ayurveda.