What is Ayurveda?

An arrangement of spice, oil and massaging tools used in Ayurved

So what is Ayurveda? Well, originating thousands of years ago, Ayurveda is the ancient Indian health system that provides the means of attaining our own optimal health and wellbeing.   It is one of the most comprehensive healing systems, focusing, but not solely, on the prevention from disease of both the mind and body, it treats the whole person holistically combining diet/nutrition, herbal remedies, meditation, philosophy, yoga, Massage and therapies.

If we were to transport ourselves back to India around 4000 years ago, we would understand that people lived in a world of rituals, they lived close to the cycles of nature, they were dependant on good harvests and rivers and their survival could be severely compromised by the negative powers of nature.  Legend has it that around this time a group of Rishis/wise men travelled to the foothills of the Himalayas to look for alternative health and wellbeing procedures, as without good health ones full potential cannot be realised, what emerged was Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is based on the principle that everything in the universe, including the human being, is made up of the ‘5 great elements of nature’ known in sanskrit as the panchamahabhutas, these are:

Ayurveda vector illustration with gold texture. Ayurvedic elements: water, fire, air, earth, ether. Ayurvedic symbols in linear style. Alternative medicine. Infographic with flat icons.

Ayurvedic elements: water, fire, air, earth, ether (space). Ayurvedic symbols in linear style. Alternative medicine. Infographic with flat icons.

Air
Earth
Fire
Water
Space

Each person consists of these elements in varying degrees making up one’s constitution, this  governs an individuals physical, mental and emotional characteristics.  One’s natural constitution is known as Prakruti and is determined at conception, remaining essentially the same throughout life.  Ayurveda talks about living in harmony with our natural constitution, as internal and external factors will disturb the balance, and when this imbalance occurs, as it almost always will to some degree, it can lead to ill heath.  An imbalanced constitution is referred to as the Vikruiti (manufactured/current state)

If your current condition matches your birth condition you will be pretty healthy – if not you may have some challenges to overcome.

So while the structural aspect of the body is made up of the 5 great elements, the functional aspects of the body are governed by a combination of the 3 doshas: Vata that represents air and space, Pitta being fire and water and Kapha which is earth and water.

See what your Vikruti is by taking this quiz.

Karyn Morgan, Ayurvedic Massage Practitioner