AYURVEDA - The Science of Life
Ayurveda (ah-yoor-veda) is a science-meets-holistic medical system that originated in India some 5,000 years ago and is believed to be the oldest surviving complete system of knowledge in the world. Just as physics and chemistry are recognised sciences, so too is Ayurveda, but this being the science of living well. The first Ayurvedic school was founded in 800BC, by physician Punarvasu Atreya. To enter, hopeful students were given the task of collecting plants from the Indian jungle with no medicinal value. Only one student, Jivaka, returned empty handed and was instantly accepted. He later became renowned for his work in brain surgery.
Over centuries Ayurveda thrived, influencing many systems of medicine, from ancient Greece to China. The Buddha born around 550 BC was a follower, and hence Ayurveda spread via monks to Tibet, China, Mongo Mongolia, Korea, Sir Lanka. India’s esteemed sages, rishis, traditional healers, grandmothers, and nomadic elders compared and combined their knowledge into one integrated system, - written down in a series of books called the Vedas, the world’s oldest literature, the findings of which, still form the basis of modern medicine in areas of foetal development, gynaecology, fertility, ear, nose and throat.
On a more accessible level, Ayurveda is a way of life. It is a philosophy, a holistic system, a subtle, complex, all-embracing prescription for how to live ones daily life. It is based on the theory that everything found in nature has medicinal value if used in the proper manner, that good digestion is the foundation of good health – hence the emphasis on eating the correct foods for one’s constitution, and that we all have the power to maintain good health through correct diet, exercise and rituals that include yoga, breathwork and time in quiet contemplation. Unlike modern medicine (which does of course have its place) Ayurveda advocates a proactive approach to physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing – one of prevention as opposed to cure.
A key aspect of Ayurveda is decoding and then living in harmony with ones constitution/dosha (doe-sha). Dosha (physical/emotional blueprint) and everything in the Universe is made up of a combination of the five elemental forces of space, air, fire, water and earth. You may have heard of people being described as flighty, grounded or fiery for example, and these are just instinctive descriptions for energetic/elemental blueprints. There are three main dosha and each is made from a combination of the elements; these being Vata (air/either), Pitta (fire/water) and Kapha (water/earth).
As humans, we need all three energies to produce, metabolise and maintain health. Psychologically, we need the creation of new ideas (vata), the ability to articulate them (pitta) and then the resolve to realise them (kapha). Most individuals have a primary, sub and an opposing dosha and a greater understanding of where we fall within the range helps liberate us from disease, which is the very aim of Ayurveda.
Take our quiz to discover your dosha.