Ayurveda: The Science of Life

Ayurveda (meaning the “Science of Life”) is said to be the oldest and most complete medical system in the world, and has had an important influence on the development of all other Oriental medical systems. This “science of life” deals with physical healing, diet, herbs, and massage.

How old is this practice, and where does it originate? Its roots are in ancient Indian civilization and Hindu philosophy dating back to circa 3000 B.C. More than five thousand years ago a group of holy men known as the Rishis compiled the ancient Hindu philosophical and spiritual texts called the Vedas. This elaborate system of knowledge was revealed to the Rishis through what today we might call channeling, or divine inspiration.

It was originally intended as a means to support the body so that spiritual development could be pursued without the worry of health concerns. Yoga, as referred to by Frawley, is a broad term roughly translated to mean “right path,” and “right path” (according to some Buddhist teachings) leads to Enlightenment. What happened to the original intent of this practice; the spiritual context? In our desire to discover alternative medical treatments for everything from weight reduction to hair loss, Ayurvedic medicine became westernized.

Ayurveda is founded on the concept of metabolic body types referred to as doshas, which is the “constitution” of your overall health profile, including strengths and weaknesses. When all three doshas (Pitta, Kapha and Vata) are balanced in accordance with your constitution, the result is vibrant health and abundant energy.

Although your metabolic type is determined by a predominant dosha, all three are present to some degree, located in a specific area of your body and encoded in your DNA. In addition to the three doshas, there’s the life force energy itself (which is likened to a nutrient taken in while breathing) and known as prana. Prana is similar to the Chinese chi, or qi, and breathing exercises will be included in your treatment.

A brief explanation of the doshas:

Pitta – This dosha governs the digestive functions, body temperature, and other metabolic functions. The location is in the small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, skin, and eyes.

Kapha – This is what holds the body together; skeletal structure, muscle, and even our fat content. The chest, lungs, and the spinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord are the seats of kapha in the body.

Vata – This governs the movement of cells circulating in the body, the movement of fluids, the activity of organs, muscles, motor and sensory functions, and the movement of thoughts. This is located in the large intestine, pelvic cavity, skin, ears, and thighs.