Ayurveda, the life science of holistic healing, defines a healthy person as someone who is established in the self. Sushrutasamhita defines a healthy person as someone “whose doshas are in balance, appetite is good, all tissues of the body and all natural urges are functioning properly, and whose mind, body and spirit (self) are cheerful or full of bliss.” [Sushrutasamhita, Sutrasthan, Chapter 15, Shloka 10] Ayurveda encourages us to be responsible of our health and for this we may need to make appropriate changes in diet and lifestyle. Ayurvedic diet is the one that is selected and cooked according to the specific needs of an individual and is balanced of all doshas. In case of imbalance and need for ayurvedic treatment, we can achieve good health if we help our body eliminate toxins and re-establish constitutional balance through proper food choices, food combining and cooking methods, herbal nutrition – these should be based on specific needs of the individual and any current imbalance of the doshas.
Panchamahabhutas and Doshas
Ayurveda suggests every living being is composed of panchamahabhutas (five elements) – akash (space), vayu (air), jal (water), agni (fire), and prithvi (earth) mixed in infinite variety of relative proportions such that each form of matter is distinctly unique. In human being, spaces within the body e.g. mouth, nostrils, abdomen, etc. correspond to space; movement (essentially muscular) is denoted by air; functioning of enzymes is controlled by fire; fluids like plasma, saliva, digestive juices is water; and the solid body i.e. bones, teeth, flesh, hair etc. correspond to earth.
The Panchamahabhutas congregate in a certain pattern known as doshas (the basic physical energies/ humours). Dosha is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘the one that is quick to go out of balance’. Good health, vitality, ease, strength, flexibility and emotional well-being can be experienced when doshas are balanced. Otherwise, we suffer from diseases – physical, mental, and even emotional. Doshas are three in number (tridoshas) – vata, pitta and kapha – these three are responsible for all the physiological and psychological processes within the body and mind – the dynamic forces that determine growth and decay. The tridoshas are responsible for physical characteristic, mental capacity and the emotional tendency of a human being.
|Dosha||Elements||Human Physical Character||Causes of Imbalance||Problems caused by the Imbalance|
|Vata||Air & space||TallThinFast talking and fast moving.||Cold or dry weatherCold or dry and raw food||Cold hands and feetAching and cracking joints, arthritisMuscular and general pain|
|Pitta||Fire & water||Moderate frame and weightSharp intellect.||Hot waterSpicy, hot foods||Acne and rashesHeartburn and acid reflux diseaseNausea and vomitingDiarrhoea or loose stoolsHot flashes|
|Kapha||Water & Earth||Large body frameHeavy bones.||Cold and wet weatherOily foods||Slow digestion and slow metabolismObesityLethargySwellingColds, sinus congestion and coughs|
Dosha types, their functions and problems caused by their imbalance
|Dosha||Dosha Types||Site||Normal Functions||Imbalance results to|
|Vata||Prana||Heart and head, between diaphragm and throat||Breathing and swallowing of foodLife and thinkingHeart rhythm||Respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthmaHeart ailments and impulse to vomitLife force is threatened|
|Udana||From umbilicus to lungs, throat and nose||Speech, voice, colour, strength, immunity, energy, memory, capacity for effort.||Loss of memoryImpaired speechGiddiness or heaviness in headDeep seated fearsShortened life span|
|Samana||Between diaphragm and navel (stomach and intestine)||Helps action of digestive enzymes, assimilation of end products of food and separation into their various tissue elements and waste products.||Mucus accumulation in the stomachIndigestionPoor assimilationDiarrhoea|
|Apana||Colon and organs of pelvic region||Elimination of stools, urine, flatus, semen, flatus and menstrual blood||Diseases of bladder, anus, testicles, uterus, menstrual problemsObstinate urinary diseases including diabetes|
|Vyana||Heart||Diffusion of energy from food and breath in the whole bodyHelps in the functioning of circulating channels as blood vessels||Dryness of skin and other body extremitiesPoor circulationFever|
|Pitta||Pachaka||Stomach and small intestines, gall bladder, liver, pancreas||Digesting and dissolving foodRegulating body temperatureSeparation of nutritive elements from wastes||IndigestionAnorexia|
|Ranjaka||Liver, spleen and stomach||Blood formation and preservation||Anaemia, jaundice, hepatitis|
|Sadhaka||Heart||Memory and other mental functions||Psychic disturbanceCardiac diseasesMental disorientation and extreme emotional states|
|Alochaka||Eyes||Vision, lustre of eyes||Impairment of vision, yellowness of eyes|
|Bhrajaka||Skin||Colour and glaze of the skin||LeucodermaOther skin diseases like psoriasis, eczema|
|Kapha||Kledaka||Stomach||Moistens food which helps in digestion, formation of mucus in body.||Impairment of digestion, heaviness in abdomen, nausea.|
|Avalambaka||Chest and heart||Keeps heart limbs healthy||LazinessRheumatic heart disease|
|Bodhaka||Tongue, palate||Perception of taste||Impairment of digestion, bulimia, anorexia, obesity|
|Tarpaka||Brain, spinal cord||Nourishment of the sense organsLubrication and protection of nervous system||Loss of memoryImpairment of functions of sense organs|
|Sleshaka||Joints||Lubrication of jointsProtection of joints from heat||Pain in jointsImpairment of functions of joint|
Connection between mind-body and soul
Mind has influence over the body and vice versa; e.g. grief in the mind weakens the body and pain in the stomach causes tension in the mind. If the body is strong and healthy, mind also becomes strong and healthy. Bad thoughts directly cause disease in body. Ill-feeling or bitterness towards another person will affect the body and produce some kind of disease in the body. Hatred, longstanding bitter jealousy, corroding anxiety, fits of hot temper destroy the cells of the body and induce disease of the heart, liver, kidneys, spleen and stomach. Violent fits of hot temper do serious damage to the brain cells, throw poisonous chemical products into the blood, produce general shock and depression and suppress the secretion of gastric juice, bile and other digestive juices in the alimentary canal, drain away energy, vitality, induce premature old age and shorten life.
The conclusion is, what we think, do, observe, preserve… these all have something to do with our physical, mental and emotional health. Healthy diet, healthy thoughts, healthy imaginations, healthy behavior, healthy attitude are the essence of healthy life. But sometimes we find ourself in a state that we can’t control our own thoughts or behavior. Ayurveda has solution to it as well. Practice meditation on daily basis, follow the instructions of a mentor, chant mantras, practice yoga, practice healthy lifestyle, be positive in all the circumstances, make smile your habit, laugh often… blah blah blah… You can also take guided ayurveda retreat or ayurveda treatment, learn ayurveda cooking and prepare your own healthy diet.