Ayurveda Explained Simply For Beginners

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Ayurveda is more than 5,000 years old, hence world's oldest system of natural medicine. It is the "Science of Life" or longevity, is the holistic alternative science from Ancient India.

Ayurveda helps individuals to understand their unique body constitution and techniques of how to balance for optimum health.
The 5 Element Theory
All matter / everything in nature is made up of a combination of the 5 elements - this is the basis of Ayurvedic knowledge. The 5 elements are more than just the tangible elements themselves. They are representations of ideas. They are symbolic metaphors that help us to understand the building blocks of all of creation.
The 5 Elements
Earth (Prithvi) – The idea of solidity and stability – the solid form of matter. In the body, the earth element is the idea of physical structure. In the mind it represents mental stability.
Air (Vaya)
– The idea of motion. The wind is the physical representation of air. Air is the force behind all motion. In the body, the element of air is the idea of the movement of nerve impulses, breath and the limbs. In the mind it is the force that moves thought.
Fire (Tejas)
– The idea of light, heat and transformation – the force of evolution – illuminates the truth and dispels ignorance. In the body the element of fire governs digestion. In the mind it represents perception.
Water (Apas)
– The idea of flow and liquidity – the liquid form of matter. In the body it represents the idea of fluid. In the mind it translates to our gentle, loving and compassionate emotions.
Ether (Akasha)
– The idea of connectedness or space – the space that exists between things – ether connects everything together. It is the subtlest form of matter – all elements originate from ether. In the body it manifests as the cavities or empty spaces that exist. In the mind it is the idea of consciousness.
The 20 Attributes of all Matter (10 Pairs of Opposites)
These attributes form the basis of understanding the qualities of the 5 elements and the 3 doshas. Too much or too little of any one quality leads to disease. Here are a few examples:
Cold/Hot - Fire is hot, all other elements are inherently cold (they do not have their own internal source of heat)
Moist/Dry - Water is moist; all other elements are inherently dry, as they have no internal source of moisture
Heavy/Light - Earth and water are heavy. Fire, air and ether are light
Ayurveda recognizes disease in terms of
  1. Cause;
  2. Symptoms (the body’s way of communicating that something is wrong); and
  3. Treatment.
Causes of Disease
Forgetting our true nature as spirit is the primordial cause of all disease. Disease begins when we forget that we are an inter-connected part of the Universal / Divine Intelligence of the planet. If we understand ourselves only as body and mind, we become wrapped up in the nature of the physical world.
3-fold cause of Disease
1. The Unwholesome Conjunction of the Senses with the Objects of their Affection.
If we see the purpose of life to be the simple pursuit of pleasure then, through our senses, we tend to take in too much, too little or we will take in what is disharmonious to us
2. Prajnaparadha: Failure of the Intellect or Crimes Against Wisdom.
Our intellect is connected to both our senses and our soul. While our senses lead it astray, our soul leads it to harmony. Sadly, the whispers of the soul are hard to hear over the ruckus of the senses. Ayurveda utilizes Yoga to train the intellect to listen deeply and hear the voice of the soul.
3. Parinama: Decay due to Time and Motion.
There are two kinds of time, linear (stable) and biological (dynamic). The pace of biological time changes in response to motion (body ages faster as we move faster). More important is the movement of the mind. Biological time mirrors our perceptions. When the mind is active, distracted or in the future/past, biological time speeds up. When the mind is focused and in the present, biological time slows down. When the mind is perfectly still, as in deep meditation, there is no passage of biological time. Yoga – the single pointed mind is fixed on the present and does not drift to the past or future. Time slows down, stress is reduced, the mind is at peace and the body remains healthy.
 
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The Tridoshic Theory
Dosha Literally means faulty or to cause harm
Functions of the Doshas
Kapha
The force behind all physical creation build new tissues. Its main function is the structure of the cell, cell membranes and organelles

Pitta
The force that maintains the creation its main function is regulating metabolism and the production of cellular energy

Vata
The force that ultimately destroys creation through wear and tear of action and activity. Its main functions in the body is the absorption and circulation of nutrients, and the excretion of waste (the by product of metabolism).
 

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Vata
Digestion – Variable. Dryness of colon causes both gas (possible distention) and constipation, often fluctuate between constipation and diarrhea. May also be hyperacidity secondary to dryness of the protective membranes of the stomach and intestines

Appetite – Variable, irregular meals, irritable and perhaps volatile after missing a meal

Elimination – Stools tend to be hard and difficult to eliminate without straining (rabbit terds). Frequency variable – tendency toward constipation

Sweat – Less than others

Sleep – Greater difficulty sleeping. Sleep tends to be light, disturbed and restless. Easily awakened by noises and may find it difficult to of back to sleep. May find it hard to get up and going if they do not sleep well. If sleep not disturbed, they will arise easily

Temperature - Feel cold easily

Skin – Dry, perhaps cracking and flaking

Menstrual Cycle – May miss period, esp. after traveling or exercising. Light or scanty flow. 2-4 days. Lack of a regular pattern with great variability and greater pain.


Pitta
Digestion – Hyperacidity or burning indigestion with a tendency toward loose stools or diarrhea

Appetite – Strong and consistent – irritable and angry when meal missed

Elimination – Regular 2-3 per day and tend to be soft or loose and quite frequent with strong odor. Perhaps green or yellow color – liver and gallbladder imbalances

Sweat – A lot with sharp odor

Sleep – Light, awakens easily and falls back to sleep easily

Temperature – tend to feel warmer than others

Skin – Ruddy complexion, prone to rashes that tend to be red and oily, also acne

Menstruation – Regular and heavy. 3 – 5 days. Greater diarrhea during menses


Kapha
Digestion – Sluggish, food digests slowly. Feel heavy after eating. May be constipation but not as dry, profound or chronic as Vata imbalance.

Appetite – Consistently low – not greatly affected by skipping a meal

Elimination – Regular, Large and bulky. Stools may appear pale or contain mucous.

Sweat – Tend to sweat a lot but it does not have a very sharp odor and may smell sweet

Temperature – Feel cool but not cold – they retain heat even though kapha energy does not generate its own heat

Skin – Thick, soft and smooth and may be clammy. Skin disorders are rare

Menstruation – Very regular, average to heavy. About 5 days plus or minus one day. Mild discomfort but swollen breasts are common.

Sleep – Heavily, not easily disturbed or awakened. Difficult to awaken, they enjoy sleep and prefer to sleep late whenever possible
 
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