Origin & focus
Ayurveda is an ancient science (some say about 5000 years old) that originates in India. Ayurveda literally means ‘Science of Life’ and thus encompasses much more than the treatment of diseases. The sutras (guidelines) that encompass the ancient vedic scriptures on which Ayurveda is based , tell us how we should carry our body and mind in such a way that we can live a long and healthy life. In this aspect the primal focus on Ayurveda always has been the prevention of disease. Of course also in ancient times people fell sick, to the secondary focus is the treatment of disease.
How does Ayurveda look at the human system?
Ayurveda perceives every human being as microcosm within the macrocosm. This means that we are part of nature and we therefore also consists of the natural elements. The five elements are earth, water, fire, air and ether (the space in which we exist). Each of the elements has their function in the body. Earth for example gives us structure and defined shape, whereas water gives lubrication and hydration, the fire element helps in transformation (think about the digestive fire) and the air element is light and mobile, its main function being transportation and movement in the human system. Ether is found in the hollow areas of our body, for example the ears and nose, but also the large intestines and bladder when empty.
Ayurveda couples these five elements into three – so called – doshas. The doshas can be seen as biological energies that sort of manage the doshas within nature (and thus within us!). Vata dosha manages air & ether elements; Pitta dosha manages fire & water elements; and Kapha dosha manages water & earth elements.
Your unique constitution
According to Ayurveda every human being has a unique make up, also called constitution (Prakruti in Sanskrit). This means that at the moment of conception you were given a unique combination of those five elements, managed by the three doshas. Our dosha combination determines our mind-body type – physical and mental processes and personality traits – they make us all divinely unique!
As we engage with life (so as from the moment we take our first breath!) we are under the influence of the macrocosm around us: the weather, the rhytms of the day and night, the food we eat, the people we engage with, news on the TV, tragic or even traumatic experiences, our demanding job, social life, etc etc: so much we are exposed to! That can cause that unique balance of the three doshas in your system to shift. That process makes us deviate from our nature and feel in unease and overtime may even turn into disease.
What does an Ayurvedic therapist do?
It is the job of the Ayurvedic therapist to get an understanding of what shift has happened in the client’s system that causes him to experience certain symptoms. When the therapist knows what dosha has shifted, it is able to advise how to bring that dosha back into ‘its normal place’. This is the process of healing.
Who is healing?
You, you and only you! The Ayurvedic therapist is there to explain you which dosha went out of place and what is needed in order to guide it back into place. In order to do this the therapist will give advise on diet, lifestyle, as well as (breathing) exercise. In support to those aspects, Ayurvedic herbs can be prescribed. An active engagement of the client is thus needed to foster his own healing.
When the client is actively engaged in his healing process is becomes a process of empowerment. A process in which the client gets a better understanding of its own constitution and how he or she is able to balance himself. Such insights will empower the client (you!) for the rest of his life to stay true to his own nature, there where you are at your best.
Curious for all the ways that Ayurveda empowers you? Continue reading here.