Have you heard about Ayurveda and are you looking for more information? This millennia-old Indian medicine is still perfectly adapted to our way of life. Ideal to accompany you in the fight against diseases, it also seeks to prevent imbalances and maintain your health. If you do yoga, you probably already use it without knowing it. Today, I give you a definition of Ayurveda and the various Doshas.
Definition of Ayurveda: what is it?
Ayurveda is a traditional Indian medicine dating back 5000 years. The term "Ayur" means "life" in Sanskrit, while "veda" means "science". It is therefore the science of life.
It is based on the idea that good health is based on a perfect balance between body, mind and spirit. Thus, any imbalance in any of these systems leads to symptoms or even diseases.
Ayurveda is a holistic medicine, which means that it takes into account the whole person. Indeed, it aims to prevent or correct imbalances that are often linked to a general dysfunction or a deeper discomfort than what appears. Thus, it does not simply treat symptoms. Therefore, an Ayurveda practitioner will question all of his patient's habits during his consultation. He will ask him questions about his lifestyle, sleep, diet or emotions in order to provide him with a solution. One can also consult a vaidya, a practitioner in Ayurveda, when one is in good health in order to perfect one's balance.
In India, Ayurvedic medicine is still considered as the first health system. It is therefore widely practiced, with nearly 500,000 practitioners in the country. However, today it has developed all over the world. This is why you will certainly be able to find an Ayurveda practitioner near you.
Holistic traditional medicine vs. allopathic medicine
Furthermore, one of the main differences with allopathic medicine is that it does not prescribe drugs. Ayurvedic practitioners use solutions based on plants, herbs, minerals or spices to be ingested or applied to the skin. Furthermore, Ayurveda does not just treat ailments, but reviews the overall lifestyle of the patient. The doctor may also propose solutions through yoga, breathing, meditation or massage. However, diet is one of the most important parts of this medicine. Certain foods, recipes, cooking methods, and the use of herbal teas are advised or discouraged.
On the other hand, it can be said that one of the objectives of Ayurveda is also to detoxify the body so that it is healthier.
Finally, Ayurveda is an ancient traditional medicine, which has proven itself. It is recognized by the WHO. It is suitable for all ages of life, whether to prevent diseases or in case of proven dysfunction
What are the principles of Ayurveda?
In Ayurveda, we are thought to be composed of 5 elements:
The earth (Prithivi)
The ether or space (Akasha).
These elements also make up our universe. Thus, in Indian beliefs, it is believed that these universal elements combine to form the human body. This mixture makes it possible to compose 3 types of profiles which one calls the Doshas.
What are the Doshas in Ayurveda?
The first Dosha is Vata, a mixture of air and ether. It is the system of movement. It is found in the colon, nervous system, skin, bones and ears. It allows in particular the intestinal transit, the breathing or the heartbeat. When Vata is balanced, it leads to the regularity of biological phenomena, fluidity and creativity. When it is unbalanced, it leads to anxiety and stress, dry skin and slowing of excretory functions (constipation).
The second Dosha is Pitta, a mixture of fire and water. It is the system of transformation. It is found in the liver, blood, eyes, small intestine. When Pitta is in balance, it allows ambition, will, intelligence. It is the Dosha which accompanies the exchanges of the body (nutrients, gas, enzymes, digestion, hormones) and regulates the temperature. When it is unbalanced, it leads to anger, fever, oily skin and inflammatory syndromes.
The third Dosha is Kapha, a mixture of water and earth. It is a system that is considered a structuring energy. It is found in the throat, lungs, heart, head. It connects and supports the different systems of the body such as hydration and blood circulation. It also has a role in weight control and immune defenses. When Kapha is balanced, it allows cellular reconstruction, softness, generosity and maintenance of vital energy. When it is unbalanced, it causes congestion, fatigue, sickly attachment and weight gain.
Each of us has a dominant ayurvedic profile. However, this profile can change according to the age and the period of life we are going through. For example, we often find a dominant Pitta profile between the ages of 25 and 35, the age when we build our professional path and are constantly looking for new projects. While one will rather be Kapha at the end of one's life. The Doshas also influence us according to the seasons. For example, summer is a Pitta period while autumn is a Vata period. People who have these dominant profiles will thus have to be particularly attentive to their balance during these seasons.
The goal of Ayurveda? To restore balance within the Doshas
Thus, dysfunctions in our health status are often related to our dominant Dosha. For example, an unbalanced Pitta patient will be prone to inflammatory diseases such as pyelonephritis or Crohn's disease. While an unbalanced Vata patient will be more likely to have anxiety attacks or depression.
Thus, the goal of Ayurveda is to balance these three Doshas in the individual, so that none are present in excess.
This is why during a consultation in Ayurveda, the vaidya, always begins by establishing the dominant Dosha of the patient. To do this, he will take into account his history, his vital signs (pulse, tension), his height, his weight and will examine his skin, gums or even his tongue. He will ask for more information about his transit, sleep and relationships with others. This will allow him to discover any imbalances that need to be corrected.
In addition, Ayurveda also seeks to keep patients in good health. Thus, during a consultation, an Ayurveda practitioner will be able to provide advice and rituals to practice on a daily basis. You will find many Ayurvedic recipes or practices that do not resemble treatments or remedies at first glance, but rather lifestyle habits.
What is the link between Yoga and Ayurveda?
We often tend to associate Ayurveda and Yoga. But what do these two fields have in common?
To understand it, we must recall the notion of Prana, which is at the center of Yoga and Ayurveda. Prana can be defined as the energy of life present in each of us. In the Indian tradition, Yoga is the science of Prana linked to the soul. Indeed, through breathing, movement and meditation, Yoga allows the union of mind and body and leads to transcendence. We seek in Yoga to control Prana in order to evolve spiritually.
While Ayurveda is considered the science of Prana related to the body. It is defined as the control of Prana that acts on the physical and emotional body.
For some, the link between Ayurvedic medicine and yoga is so complementary that it would be useless to use one without the other. Indeed, with a healthy body and mind, one could more easily achieve the self-knowledge and spiritual evolution targeted by yoga. Moreover, in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, it is said that the main obstacles to reach the state of union are "illnesses, mental disorders or fatigue". Ayurveda thus makes it possible to act directly on these obstacles.
Complementary and useful areas for everyday life
It is therefore believed that yoga postures or meditation alone do not keep the human being in balance. Thus, many yogis also use Ayurveda to strengthen their system.
Indeed, for some yogis, Ayurvedic rituals often hold an important place in their daily life. In particular, many of them practice Dinacharya, a morning Ayurvedic ritual to be done every day. It aims to maintain good health and purify the body. It includes, for example, the use of the tongue scraper when waking up, gandushas (oil-based mouthwashes), kriyas or nose cleaning. Morning yoga postures are also part of this routine. This is why I told you, you often do Ayurveda without realizing it.
Finally, Ayurveda is a very vast field. It is difficult to give a complete definition in a few sentences. Nevertheless, its benefits on the body and mind have been demonstrated for thousands of years, on millions of patients. Today, it is a discipline that helps maintain good health through healthy lifestyle habits and natural remedies. Do not hesitate to ask me all your questions about Ayurveda in the comments space. This will help me to develop other principles of this Indian medicine in the next articles.