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Ayurveda, the Science of Life

by Eyton Shalom, L. Ac.

Ayurveda doshas

Ayurveda is the classical health care system of India, originating in the ancient Vedic civilization of 3,000 B.C.E. Ayur-Veda means Science of Life. It is a natural, preventive approach to health that emphasizes the following:

  • A diet appropriate to your body-mind type (dosha) and basic principles of nutrition
  • Proper digestion, elimination, rest, relaxation, and mental attitude
  • The use of herbal medicines, pranayam (yogic breathing exercises), and meditation to balance the doshas
  • The use of fasting, oil massage, and panchakarma (detoxification, purification, and rejuvenation) treatments for eliminating buildup of ama (toxins)

The basis of Ayurveda is prevention-strengthening your body's defense system and self-repair mechanisms so you have the ability to naturally resist disease. Like Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine is especially valuable to people who perceive spiritual health and physical health as inextricably intertwined.

Origins of Disease in Ayurveda

Life-force in Ayurveda is called prana. From the center of the being prana controls the functioning of the body's organs and physiological processes. Channels, called srotas, similar to the channels of acupuncture, facilitate the circulation of prana. Disease is caused by blockage of these channels and by pranic insufficiency.

Ayurveda describes individuals according to their constitutional or body-mind types, called doshas. The three basic doshas are Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha.

  • Vatta governs bodily and mental functions concerned with movement and metabolism
  • Pitta governs bodily and mental functions concerned with heat, the catabolic break-down of things taken into the body-mind, and energy production
  • Kapha governs bodily and mental functions concerned with the building up and maintenance of structure and fluids



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