1. Overview:

What is Ayurveda and Tridosha Theory ? 

Ayurveda is India's ancient holistic healing science, the "Mother of all healing", is more than 10,000 years old. Ayurveda means science of longevity. Besides healing and prevention, it focuses on rebuilding the cells and tissues to support longevity. Ayurveda is a spiritual science as its goal is to help with one's Self-Realization.

One extraordinary feature of this holy science is its method of personalizing each person's healing path through the insight of different body types or constitutions, called doshas (Vayu or air, Pitta or fire and Kapha or water). Through this individualizing of healing, balance of health is restored gently.

A second major exceptional virtue of Ayurveda is its broad based set of tools which may be used for healing. It offers methods for each of the five senses, taste- herbs and nutrition, smell- aromatherapy, touch- Yoga, gem and massage therapies, sound- mantras and sight- color therapy. Lifestyle suggestions are also offered.

Perhaps the most blessed quality that traditional spiritual Ayurveda offers is that it finds the root-cause of illness. By that healing is not only gentle but effective. The healing theory behind this sacred system is that balance of the three elements (Vayu, Pitta and Kapha) is the state of health. An illness is merely and excess or deficiency of one or more of the elements. For example, excess air can cause spacey minds or physical gas. Fire overabundance can create heat rash or a hot temper. A overabundance of water may lead to lethargy, overweight or water illness in the chest region.

At the essence of all of life exists five elements; ether, air, fire, water and earth.. People, plants, pets, trees, foods, activities, colors, smells, etc., all are comprised of these five essential elements. Ayurveda notes that theses five elements are responsible for and affect everything. Even diseases are nothing but excesses of one or more element. For example acid indigestion or hot temper are excesses of heat. Correspondingly, the stomach and spleen could be said to be containing too much heat (i.e., an imbalance of heat).

What does holistic mean?

Holistic has several meanings. First Ayurveda recognizes that all things in life are interconnected from the essential elemental level. Food, frame of mind, career, relationship, exercise, and spiritual life all have an effect on one another and all directly influence one's physical, mental and spiritual well being. The five senses are the gateways that bring in these influences; what one sees, hears, smells, touches, tastes affects all areas of health and life. The mind also plays a major role in how we act and react to the information and experiences gathered from the senses.

When the mind is calm and clear, one handles a situation much better. The same situation, the same people or stresses exist at all times. How one deals with these situations will differ depending upon one's mental frame of mind.

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Therefore Ayurveda recommends persons take time to nurture all areas of life to maintain the whole (or holistic) balance. Life is like a web, if you shake one area of the web, the entire web shakes. Like that, what one does in one area of one's life affects all areas. Thus Ayurveda's tailor-made health suggestions offers people a holistic approach to healing, prevention and longevity. Each person learns better through a different sense, so one can choose which therapies they prefer to work with. In this way healing becomes fun- not a punishment.

How does Ayurveda heal or achieve balance?

If a person has too much Vayu (ether/air/wind) they may experience dry skin or bones, gas or constipation, anxiety, worry, etc. By surrounding oneself with more Pitta (fire or warmth) and Kapha (water/earth or moisture and grounding), and avoiding air (drying, cold and ungrounding things), the warmth and moisture warm and lubricate the air and re-achieve balance.

Should a person's constitution(dosha )be of a dual nature (e.g., Vayu/Pitta -air/fire), they achieve balance by using more Kapha or watery/grounding (moistening/cooling) things. For example a person may experience constipation (generally an air excess) and acid indigestion (generally a Pitta excess). The way to achieve balance (health) is to avoid cold, drying and hot things and increase the usage of moist things.

Balance is achieved through foods, herbs, exercise, lifestyle, spirituality, etc. For example, some foods increase air, like broccoli. When imbalanced, a Vayu dosha person will likely develop gas or constipation from broccoli due to its cool, drying nature (i.e., bitter taste). Yet broccoli will help balance the Pitta or Kapha dosha because its cooling nature helps Pitta and its drying nature balances Kapha.

Like this, all things, music, exercise, massage, exercise, etc., offer different elemental choices. By learning one's dosha and which things in life balance or imbalance their dosha, individuals can better take control on their health and lifestyle.

Who can be helped with Ayurveda?

Because of its deep and comprehensive insights, Ayurveda can help babies, children and teenagers, adults, seniors, and during pregnancy. Ayurveda offers therapies for all health concerns, from colds to cancer, emotional issues to epilepsy. Therapies cover hereditary, congenital, chronic or mild concerns.

2. Herbology

Herbs are the most effective, powerful, yet gentle form of healing in Ayurveda.

1) Herbs are easily digested and closer to the essential elements, compared to vitamins, minerals, etc. They provide quick assimilation into the body for fundamental nutrition.

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2) Herbs have cooling/drying, heating and moistening effects, allowing one to tailor their use according to one's dosha. For example garlic is a good heart herb, but not for Pitta dosha. 3) Herbs specifically help organs (e.g., shilajit for the kidneys, gurmar for the pancreas).

4)) Herbs also target the tissue layers; plasma (rasa), blood (rakta), muscle (mamsa), fat (medas), nerves/joint fluid (majja), bone (asthi), and reproductive fluid (shukra).

5) Herbs that perform a specific function one site can affect another site by adding a special transporting herb. For example gokshura breaks up urinary stones. When coriander is added to it, it travels to the kidney and breaks up kidney stones. 6) Herbs can be taken in many forms; powder, decoction, infusion, confection, cooked in food, in juice or soup, with water, honey, cane sugar, ghee, etc.


Herbal Sampling
  Brain: Gotu Kola
Blood: Manjishtha
Liver: Bhumyamalaki
Heart: Arjuna
Colon: Triphala
Urinary System: Gokshura
Kidneys: Shilajit
Cholesterol: Guggul
Diabetes: Gurmar & Shilajit
Lungs: Vasaka
Overweight: Garcinia
PMS: Musta
Circulation: Turmeric
Acne: Turmeric/Manjishtha

3. Nutrition

Like herbs, different foods are better for some doshas while aggravating other doshas. For example broccoli, which contains bitter taste, helps reduce or balance Pitta and Kapha doshas, but will aggravate Vayu dosha- causing gas and constipation.

In each food group (i.e., fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, etc.) certain foods are good for some doshas but not others. Ayurveda offers the insight into which foods are good for which dosha.

In this way persons can eat something from each food group; they don't have to deny themselves any food group. Thus meals are rather normal; there are no strange or extreme diets involved.

Foods also have specific healing qualities. For example bitter vegetables are good for diabetes, cranberries are good for kidney problems, etc. Thus the knowledge of food compatibility according to dosha and according to disease or organs provides one with a very powerful healing and prevention therapy.


4. Aromatherapy

While foods are very helpful for the body, aromas and color therapies help balance the emotions and mind. Aromas can be in the form of incense, essential oils, soaps, scented candles, sachets, etc. Aromas are also specific for each dosha.

Sandalwood is good for all doshas and is very useful for stress, worry, anxiety, nervousness, anger, impatience etc. Frankincense is good for fear and lethargy. White flowers like jasmine and gardenia are specific for anger and impatience. Jasmine, ylang ylang and patchouli are useful for depression.

5. Meditation

I canít/donít know how to meditate; I can never empty my mind.

Meditation is very simple. The belief that you have to empty your mind is a common misconception . An empty mind is actually a robotic mind. A meditative mind is one of calm awareness. Meditation can take forms; singing or playing music, chanting scripture, using mantras, walking in nature, doing hobbies or other things you love to do. In short, whatever brings mental peace.

6. Color Therapy

Like aromatherapy, this modality is especially helpful for emotional or mental concerns. While aromatherapy works through the sense of smell, colors heal through the channel of sight. Color therapy is applied to one's clothing, home and office. An example of color therapy would be using the colors white, sky blue or pink to calm down.

7. Gem Therapy

This modality is usually employed only when persons like and can afford gems; they are not absolutely required. Basically the colors of the gems have parallel uses to color therapy.

One precaution regarding gems- astrologically, they can have side effects. Thus we advise a Jyotish  astrological reading before purchasing gems.

From the Ayurvedic and Jyotish point of view, gems have their strongest effect when they are set to touch the skin (i.e., as necklace, pendant or ring).

8. pancha karma

Pancha Karma literally means five actions. These therapies completely remove
diseases from the body. They are used to heal even the most difficult of
diseases. For more information click here Pancha Karma.

9. Exercise

We now move into the wider range of holistic healing measures. It is important that the body be fit. Exercise programs vary according to dosha.

Vayu doshas exercise until they begin to tire or perspire. This constitution is already more sensitive and has the ability to become easily fatigued and weakened.

Pitta doshas can exercise a little longer, but they do not want to overheat because they already have heating tendencies.

Kapha doshas need to exercise until they become very tired. They require the most amount of activity as they tend towards a sedentary lifestyle.

For professional and semi-professional athletes- those who are building stamina, these rules are only mildly followed. Still, yoga stretching, herbs and other Ayurvedic therapies are needed to achieve their goals.

The best exercise for all doshas is walking, followed by swimming.

10. Lifestyle Counseling

One of the reasons people become ill is results from working in an unsatisfying career. In fact, Ayurveda recognizes that diseases such as cancer are emotional illnesses, due to one not living a purposeful career. Having a meaningful career is a form of meditation discussed above under meditation.

During an Ayurvedic consultation, this topic is discussed to help get a clearer picture of one's holistic health.

11. Spiritual Counseling

According to Ayurveda's main authors of ancient times, Bharadwaj, he says in the Charaka Samhita text. 

The first or deepest root cause of illness is a loss of faith in the Divine.

Here we are not speaking of organized religion, but one's own personal spirituality, regardless of religion.

These days a great spiritual crisis exists in people's lives. Even if money and other outer successes exist, an inner emptiness or dissatisfaction persists. Ayurveda suggests involving oneself in some spiritual activity daily, even if it is for just a little while.

The Vedic belief is that our true nature is eternal, Divine. By spending some time each day discovering more of one's true inner nature brings more peace, purposefulness and a sense of completeness.

(c) copyright 2006 Swami Sadashiva Tirtha. Reprinted with permission. Swamiji is the author of the Ayurveda Encyclopedia and founder of the International Vedic Institute and Swami Narayan Tirtha Math. http://ayurvedahc.com  


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