Ayurveda is an ancient holistic healing system which treats the mind, body and spirit as a whole. Ayurveda translates as ‘the science of life’ and is still India’s mainstream health care system. It works on the philosophy of ‘Prevention is better than cure’ and uses medicinal herbs, oil therepies, massage, yoga and meditation together with diet and lifestyle choices for specific body types and temprements – in order to restore and maintain well being.
Legends say that about 3 million years ago, a group of Indian sages travelled high up into the Himalayas in search of enlightenment. They wanted to banish all disease from the world because only those who are physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy could reach enlightenment. So they meditated collectively on how to get rid of illness – and eventually the secret of true health and happiness was revealed. These findings were preserved in the ancient vedic texts. The Ayurvedic sages believed that a healthy state is a natural state, and deviation from this natural state by taking on stresses found in modern living, and from an inappropriate diet, will ultimately lead to ill health. There is a direct link between emotional distress and physical disease – and ayurveda treats both mind and body to cleanse and rejuvenate one back to their true balance.
The concept of the 3 ‘doshas’ is at the heart of Ayurveda. Vata (like ‘air’, or wind), Pitta (like ‘fire’ or bile) and Kapha (like ‘water’, or phlegm). These are the 3 forces that work within us all and they determine our body shape, colouring, metabolism and emotional temperament – among other things. Your individual type is known as your ‘prakriti’ and this gives clues as to which types of disease you will be prone to, making prevention easier. Illness occurs when the dominant Doshas in prakriti ‘take over’ or when your dominant Dosha becomes imbalanced, which normally causes an increase in its main element, e.g. – imbalanced Pitta usually results in excess ‘fire’ element, resulting in symptoms such as burning sensations or inflammation. Everyone has the three Doshas, yet normally, there are one or two that dominate in our prakriti. e.g. a pure ‘Vata’ type is someone who has lots of Vata energy compared to Pitta and Kapha energy. A dual type such as a Pitta-Kapha, would have relatively more Pitta and Kapha compared to Vata.
Ayurveda in a complex science, but it can be easily simplified and used at home in everyday life. If you are suffering from a ‘fire’ inbalance – with which you could be feeling hot emotions such as anger, or experiencing hot rashes or fever – it makes sense to cut out foods such as hot spices and alcahol, and replace them with options that have cooling properties. However, if you experience symptoms that indicate you do not have enough of the ‘fire’ element – such as sluggish digestion or chills – it will help to eat foods with heating properties, as well as massage with warming oils.
L.Littlewing is an advocate of natural healthcare, Yoga, and a high raw food diet. She is involved in a number of projects including