By: Liana Balicka
Ayurveda is a combination of a healing system and Eastern philosophy. It takes its origins from ancient India and combines medical and philosophical knowledge. Although it has its roots in India, it is widely practised in most Asian countries. It is officially recognised by the World Health Organisation – WHO, which arouses more and more interest in Europe and America. The most important pillars of Ayurveda are holistic approaches to man being an inseparable link of body, mind and soul. The main idea of Ayurveda, namely the fact that the body and soul are united, just like the human being and the surrounding universe, has proved useful in today’s world. The ancient Indian art of healing seeks to maintain the balance and integrity of the entire system that links the human body with its environment, involves every aspect of human life, with a focus on preventing illness from occurring and once it does occur, on eliminating the source rather than the symptoms, as well as on maintaining balance at every level of existence.
Ayurvedic medicine is based on natural healing methods, using herbal medicine, body treatments aimed at removing physical and mental toxins, regeneration of the body, thus ensuring a return to full health. Not only does it cure without the use of chemical drugs or invasive procedures, but it also teaches how to live in harmony with the environment, with nature, with the world and other people, it helps to understand one’s own body, to observe the signals the human body sends out. In such circumstances, according to the philosophy of Ayurveda, prevention plays a significant role, which includes physical activity, proper nutrition and correct interpersonal relations.
An inseparable and important part of the health processes is the use of an appropriate diet, taking into account the body type (Prakriti) as well as the existing imbalance (Vikriti). Three Doshas circulating in the body through their combined effect determine Prakriti, the psycho-physical constitution. Prakriti is a unique set of properties corresponding to the dominant Dosha. Prakriti from the moment of conception until the end of life remains unchanged. Under the influence of external factors, however, it can be disrupted, producing a state called Vikriti. What and how a person eats plays an important role in the philosophy of Ayurveda. Although this diet does not exclude the consumption of specific foods, it strongly recommends light and unprocessed products of plant origin. The quality of the meals prepared and the ritual of eating them is important. Due to the fact that the concept of Ayurvedic medicine is based on the inseparable connection between man and the universe, the science of Ayurveda promotes a certain idea – the theory that it is the cycles of nature that determine the most beneficial rhythm of life for man, as well as provide the most necessary nutrients at any time of the year. Proper education of self-awareness in this regard allows to achieve and maintain the balance of Prakriti. According to Ayurvedic science, everything in the universe is interconnected and interdependent, and consists of the five elements existing in different proportions. These are – Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Space. The human body is composed of five elements which combined in different proportions form energies called Doshas. Three Doshas – Vata, Pitta, Kapha – are their manifestation and possess their properties. Vata – energy with a predominance of Space and Air; it is dry, mobile, rough, light and cold. Pitta – the most emotional and fiery energy; it is moist, light and hot. Kapha – describes energy with a dominant role of Water and Earth; it is moist, cold, heavy, static, bonding. Doshas ‘circulate’ throughout the body, governing bodily functions as well as creating and managing the body and mind. It is believed that keeping all three Doshas in natural proportions brings man into a state of balance, which is close to health and well-being. Every person has all these energies, one of which is dominant, the second is visible and the third is the least present. Such a pattern of energies is called Prakriti. The psycho-physical constitution (Prakriti) – the formation of one’s Doshas – is a natural state which does not change, is individual and determines one’s psycho-physical balance. Any disturbance of this state leads to imbalance, a change in physical and emotional condition, the so-called Vikriti.
According to Ayurvedic theory, prevention, which includes physical activity, proper nutrition and good interpersonal relations, has great potential. It is of no small importance to maintain the balance between the various Doshas along with an increased awareness of one’s own body and preventive measures, rather than focusing on feeling unwell. In many cases, a change of attitude towards ailments or life problems is considered to be the most effective way of treatment and health recovery, believing that a person’s physical state is inextricably entwined with his/her mental state. Ayurveda does not refer only to the medical field, but concerns all levels of human activity. The overall health process involves a system of interrelated elements, such as physical exercise, the practice of yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises), in addition to working on more subtle levels – the emotions and the mind.
Although Ayurveda, as a domain of natural and non-conventional medicine, indeed emphasises primarily the psychological state and spiritual issues of a person, it also recognises surgical intervention as an effective means of treatment. The potential of Ayurvedic medicine is combined with modern medical diagnostics which forms the basis for gaining knowledge about diseases in their initial stages of development. Ayurveda is a way of life that makes one awa re of how to live, using the inner power and energetic potential of the human body, and paying attention to spiritual development and raising awareness. Ayurveda integrates various scientific achievements for the benefit of mankind!