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Ayurveda- The Life science- The basics

Ayur means life and Veda means knowledge. Knowledge of life is Ayurveda. It is believed that Ayurveda came into existence around the same time as yoga and is considered to be the sister branch of yoga. Ayurveda deals more with the health of the body, and nourishment, whereas yoga is looking into spiritual development.

Modern science has got a particular way and nomenclature to explain things, similarly, Ayurveda has got a different approach and nomenclature to understand and explain the problems in our body. We will try to create a bridge between the two. Let’s introduce you to some new words from Ayurveda.

New Words

Prakruti – Pra – source, origin; Kruti- creation. Your original creation, how you were at birth, your tendencies, characteristics, nature, etc.

Vikruti – Vi – after; Kruti – creation. Change that comes into you because of various external (environment, upbringing, etc) and internal (mind, tendencies, etc) factors.

Dosha – Dosha means fault. The actual imbalances that occur within you.

To sum up, you are born with certain characteristics, body type, nature, and tendencies (prakruti), because of the external (environment, your upbringing, conditions, food, experiences) and internal factors (mind, energy, emotions) you start changing. All these factors might be changing how you used to be. All these changes are measured with the help of Dosha.

Ayurveda recognizes three main doshas (energy imbalances) in the body which can be corrected by diet, herbs, Asanas, Pranayama, and meditation.

Charaka Samhita along with Sushruta Samhita are original compendium texts on Ayurveda, that are valued as one of the best-written literature on Ayurveda in India. It teaches us how to live in a true, natural, and balanced environment.

The five elements in Ayurveda

Ayurveda uses an understanding of the 5 basic elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air & Ether) that contain prana (life force) and applies their characteristics to the corresponding parts of the body. It uses these characteristics to understand the way that the physical body interacts and relates to itself.

ElementsCorrelation to body
EarthMuscles, Bones, Fat
WaterBlood, Plasma, Saliva, Lymph, Synovial Fluid
FireAcid, Bile, Temperature Regulation, Metabolism, Vision (light)
WaterOxygen, Gas, Movement
EtherCavities, Space inside the body for Organ Function,

The three Doshas in Ayurveda

The organization and interaction of these elements within the body are governed by three main basic physiological principles which are called Doshas. These are the imbalances (and tendencies) of each person.

VataAir & EtherForce of movement
PittaFireTransformative energy
KaphaEarth & WaterHarmony

Each person has a unique blend of these Doshas, which is the basis of understanding their personal characteristics and problems and sets the foundations for selecting their individual treatments & lifestyle advice.

The imbalance (dosha) could happen because of your tendencies (prakruti), your body might not like spicy food and as a reaction to it might increase the acidity, whereas some other person might not have any problem eating it.

Disease is described as a state of imbalance between the Doshas.

Here is a table consisting of the common physical, emotional and behavioral characteristics for each of the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha prakruti.

Common Physical Problems or CharacteristicsSlim, Uneven features, Dry skin, Thin hair,
Constipation, Cramps, Bloating, Gas.
Average build, Symmetrical/pointed features, Oily skin, Ulcers, Acne.Large frame, Large features, Good teeth, Wavy/thick hair, Clear skin, Over weight, Blocked sinus, High cholesterol, Cold.
Common Emotional CharacteristicsMoody, Vivacious, Imaginative,
Enthusiastic, Nervous.
Intense, Quick-tempered, Intelligent, Passionate,
Articulate, Focused.
Relaxed. Kind. Tolerant. Compassionate. Slow.
Common Behavioral CharacteristicsAnxious, Impulsive, Erratic sleep/meal times, Inventors, Difficult to finish what they start, Forgetful.Determined, Creative,
Orderly, Structured timings, Perfectionist, Logical, Dedicated worker, Leadership.
Sleeps a lot, Eats slowly, Prefers repetition in schedule, Procrastination, Content.

Take this quiz to find your Prakruti.

One of the key focuses of Ayurveda is that the Dosha must be balanced on a physical as well as a mental level. All chronic conditions have firm roots in the mind, so one of the key treatments for chronic conditions is a lifestyle change. There are activities/work environments/daily schedules that can increase or reduce certain aspects of the dosha within the body.

Prakruti is tendencies and dosha is imbalance. Eg. If you have a Pitta prakruti then you have a tendency of Pitta (dosha) imbalance.

Why is this important?

It is this specialized act of balancing based not only on the symptoms but on the type of person who has the disease that makes Ayurveda incredibly successful at curing long-term chronic conditions, as well as preventing likely diseases from arising, (If for example there is a hereditary disease running in your family you might be more likely to develop that disease, with careful work into disease prevention you can stop it from being able to take hold).

The topic of disease and body type is too vast to cover in this small section, but we will write a brief overview. Move on to the next chapter to find out about the diseases caused because of Vata imbalances.

Next Chapter>>Ayurveda- Vata Dosha and Vata Diseases

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