Ayurveda is a holistic healing science which comprises of two words, Ayu and Veda. Ayu means life and Veda means knowledge or science. So the literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is the science of life. Ayurveda is a science dealing not only with treatment of some diseases but is a complete way of life. Ayurveda aims at making a happy, healthy and peaceful society. The two most important aims of Ayurveda are:
- ॐ To maintain the health of healthy people
- ॐ To cure the diseases of sick people
A Person is seen in Ayurveda as a unique individual made up of five primary elements.
These elements are ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth.
Just as in nature, we too have these five elements in us. When there is an imbalance of these elements in nature, it influences our life. The foods we eat and the weather are just two examples of the influence of these elements. As a composite of these five primary elements, certain elements have an ability to combine to create various physiological functions. The elements combine with Ether and Air in dominance to form what is known in Ayurveda as Vata Dosha. Vata governs the principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination etc. The elements with Fire and Water in dominance combine to form the Pitta Dosha. The Pitta Dosha is responsible for the process of transformation or metabolism. The transformation of foods into nutrients that our bodies can assimilate is an example of a Pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism.
Finally, it is predominantly the water and earth elements which combine to form the Kapha Dosha. Kapha is responsible for growth, adding structure unit by unit. It also offers protection. For example, in form of a cerebral-spinal fluid, which protects the brain and spinal column. The mucous lining of the stomach is another example of the function of Kapha Dosha protecting the tissues.
Shatkarma & Kriya – Cleansing/ techniques
Part of Ayurvedic Therapy methods is ‘The Shatkarma or the six purification techniques in Hatha Yoga. Designed to make the body strong and healthy. ‘Shat’ means six and ‘Karma’ here means a method or technique. Shatkarmas are considered preparatory steps towards higher practices of pranayama and meditation. The ancient Rishis recognized the importance of a healthy body for all activities, whether worldly or spiritual. Hatha Yoga, as explained in the text ‘Hatha Yoga Pradeepika’, is aimed at making the body and mind fit for higher practices of Raja Yoga.’