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The History of Ayurveda
The name Ayurveda comes from the two Sanskrit words ‘ayur’ meaning life and ‘veda’ meaning knowledge. Ayurveda is an ancient form of Indian healing and medicine that encompasses treatments including herbs, diet, meditation, massage, fragrant oils, sound and yoga and is rooted in the belief that health is a result of a balance between body, mind and spirit. It was brought to the West in the 1960’s and 70’s by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and later popularised through the works of Dr Deepak Chopra.
How does it work?
Ayurveda is based on the concept that everything in the universe consists of three basic forces called “doshas”. These forces are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata is associated with the wind (constantly on the move) and controls the nervous system. Pitta is associated with the sun (the source of energy), and controls the digestive system and all biochemical processes. Kapha governs the balance of tissue fluid, controlling the cell growth and firmness of the body.
These three forces in turn respond to the five elements being, air, ether, fire, water and earth.
We all have these elements and forces in our body and our body types can be determined as Vata, Pitta or Kapha or a combination. Good health results from these forces being balanced and in harmony with each other. The three forces affect what we can eat, how we handle stress and the illnesses that we may attract if the body is out of balance.
Although our body type expresses dominance by one of the doshas or a combination, every cell in the body must contain all three to remain alive. We need Vata to breathe, circulate the blood, pass food through the digestive tract and send nerve impulses between the brain and the rest of the body. Pitta is required to process food, air and water through the entire system and allow for proper intellectual functioning. Kapha is needed to hold the cells together and form connective tissue. By knowing our body type and becoming aware of the dosha that is most prominent in our body we can enjoy an optimum diet, daily routine and perfect health.
Some characteristics of the various doshas include:
• Vata – light, thin build; irregular hunger and digestion; light, interrupted sleep with a tendency towards insomnia; tendency to worry; excitability and changing moods.
• Pitta – medium build; sharp hunger and thirst with a strong digestion; a tendency to become angry or irritable under stress; fair and often freckled skin; sharp intellect; cannot skip meals; blond, light brown or reddish hair.
• Kapha – Solid, powerful build with great physical strength and endurance; steady energy; slow and graceful in action; heavy, prolonged sleep; tendency towards obesity; affectionate, tolerant and forgiving; tendency to be possessive and complacent.
The benefits of Ayurveda
Individuals who practice Ayurvedic methods such as yoga have less chance of being at risk for developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stress related symptoms. Yoga can also be particularly helpful in working with ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis.
Ayurvedic herbal remedies and principles can be beneficial for treating allergies, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, menstrual cramps, Parkinson's disease, weight loss, and digestive disorders, including constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
What to expect during a consultation
The practitioner takes down a detailed case history which can be used to determine the client’s body type. A qualified practitioner is also skilled at pulse diagnosis and is able to tell which areas of the body are out of balance.
A treatment plan is designed for the individual’s needs, based on diet but may also include massage, herbal remedies and meditation.
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