Ayurveda is an ancient science that originated in India more than 7,000 years ago. In Sanskrit, "Ayus" means life and "Vedas" means knowledge, making Ayurveda the science of life. Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga. It is a system of medicine based on the understanding of the unique nature of a person, otherwise known as their constitution, the unique nature of the disease, and the unique nature of the medicine. It is your lifestyle and the foundation of health and it is based on prevention.
One of Ayurveda's foundational elements is to balance and restore the energies in the body, known as doshas, by using food as medicine. Ayurveda aims to create an environment around you that supports you in reaching your full potential physically, mentally and spiritually. The Ayurvedic journey is non-judgmental. It is a journey of, and toward, self love.
THE FIVE ELEMENTS OF NATURE
The five elements of nature are the building blocks of our existence. Everything in the universe down to the individual cells in our bodies, are made of ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Individually, we are all made up of a different combination of these elements, making each and every single one of us unique. The five elements and their qualities helps us understand why the substances we consume create harmony or disease in our body, mind, and soul.
Ether is the idea of connectedness or space. It called "akasha" in Sanskrit and it is the first element in nature. Ether is the essence of emptiness, its omnipresent, and it carries the qualities of cold, dry, light, subtle, immobile, sharp, rough, unstable, and clear. Ether's season is winter and it represents everything that holds space in the body, such as ducts, canals, pathways, and anything that can be filled. In the mind, ether represents consciousness.
Air is the idea of motion. It is called "vayu" in Sanskrit and it is the second element in nature. Air carries the qualities of cold, dry, light, subtle, mobile, flowing, hard, sharp, rough, and clear. Air's season is Autumn and in our bodies, it is represented as our respiratory and nervous system. In the mind, air is the force that moves thought.
Fire is the idea of light, heat, and transformation. It is, called "tejas" in Sanskrit and it evolves from ether and air. Ether provides the space for fire to exist in, while air brings in the capacity for fire to burn. Summer is the season of fire and it carries the qualities of hot, dry, light, subtle, unstable, flowing, hard, sharp, rough, and clear.In the body, it governs digestion, and in the mind, it governs perception.
Water is the idea of flow and liquidity. It is, called "Apas" in Sanskrit and it provides the body with its basic nourishment. Spring is the season of water and it carries the qualities of cold, moist, heavy, stable, smooth, gross, flowing, dull, cloudy, and soft. In the body, water represents fluids and in the mind it represents gentle, loving, and compassionate emotions.
Earth is the idea of solidity and stability. It is called "Prithvi" in Sanskrit and it is the fifth element of nature. Earth's season is late winter/early spring and it has the qualities of cold, dry, heavy, stable, rough, gross, dense, dull, clear, and hard. In the body, it represents our physical structure and in the mind, it represents mental stability.
THE THREE DOSHAS
The human being's physiology is governed by three main forces made up of a combination of the five elements of nature - Prana (life), Tejas (light), and Ojas (love). These are the three fundamental biological energies governing the functions of the body and mind. When these energies are functioning normally, they maintain good health in the body and guide all the normal bodily processes, when they are not functioning in harmony with each other and our environment, we experience imbalances, which we can determine as our doshas - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each one of us has a unique balance of prana, tejas, and ojas at the moment of creation - birth. This balance is called our constitution, prakruti in Sanskrit, and it is responsible for both our body type and our personality.Our vikruti, is the state of our doshas in the present moment, which causes us to experience dis-ease and imbalance.
ETHER + AIR
The Vata dosha is made up of air and ether. It is responsible for all motion and circulation, nerve impulses, joint movement and the movement of thought. Vata's qualities are just like the elements that it's made up of, making it light, cold, dry, mobile, subtle, and rough. In the body, vata resides in the large intestine. When vata increases in the body, it causes pain, and any abnormal excess in motion such as rapid breathing, twitching, and a fast heart rate.
FIRE + WATER
The Pitta dosha is made up of fire and water. It is responsible for digestion and metabolism of food, thoughts, emotions and anything we absorb through our five senses. It's principal quality is heat, however, it is also light, slightly oily, unstable, and sharp. In the body, pitta resides in the lower half of the stomach and small intestine where your digestive fire - agni resides in. When pitta increases in the body, its primary symptom tends to be fever, reddening of the eyes or skin, and/or buildup of heat in other organs.
WATER + EARTH
The Kapha dosha is made up of water and earth. It is responsible for structure and stability in the body. Kapha's qualities are heavy, cold, moist, static, smooth, and soft. In the body, kapha resides in the upper half of your stomach and it is responsible for the production of mucus. When kapha increases in the body, it causes swelling, weight gain, and excessive mucus production.