Serene Ayurveda

About Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a comprehensive system of medicine, more than 5,000 years old and based on a holistic approach rooted in Vedic culture. Ayurveda teaches how to stay healthy, radiant and balanced, and unlike many other health systems, looks at roots of the problem and imbalance and concentrates on promoting a long and healthy life.

The knowledge of Ayurveda came from enlightened rishis (sages) who received this wisdom through deep meditation. For hundred years this knowledge was an oral tradition and was later transcribed into book form, Vedas, sacred texts of India. The three main Ayurvedic texts: Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya Samhita are still used today and they contain the original and complete knowledge of this ancient, medical system. 

Lord Dhanvantari, the God of health, healing and cure, the father of Ayurveda


Five Elements (Pancha Mahabhutas) and concept of Tri-Doshas

Everything in the universe is made up of a combination of the Five Elements (Pancha Mahabhutas). These five elements are known as:

  • Space or Akasha (sound)

  • Air or Vayu (touch)

  • Fire or Tejas (sight)

  • Water or Apa (taste)

  • Earth or Prithvi (smell)

The Five Elements manifest in the functioning of the five senses of each being. This allows the person to perceive the external environment in which he or she lives and are also related, through the senses, to five actions expressing the functions of the sensory organs:

  • Space - sense of hearing; organ: ear; qualities: light, fine, smooth, soft;

  • Air - sense of touch; organ: skin; qualities: cold, light, dry, rough, fine;

  • Fire - sense of sight; organ: eye; qualities: hot, sharp, clear, fine, light, dry;

  • Water - sense of taste; organ: tongue; qualities: cold, soft, liquid, oily, slimy, heavy;

  • Earth - sense of smell; organ: nose; qualities: heavy, hard, course, rough, solid, compact, slow.


In Ayurvedic philosophy, the Five Elements combine in pairs to form three dynamic forces called Doshas.

Dosha means "that which changes." In Ayurveda, Dosha is also known as the governing principles as every living thing in nature is characterized by the Dosha, all activities of the mind and body are governed by three biological principles. The three active doshas are:

  1. Vata (Space & Air)
  2. Pitta (Fire & Water)
  3. Kapha (Water & Earth)

They create 7 main Body Types (or Constitution) called Prakriti:
  1. Vata
  2. Pitta
  3. Kapha
  4. Vata - Pitta
  5. Pitta - Kapha
  6. Vata - Kapha
  7. Vata - Pitta - Kapha
All three Doshas are present in every living organism but one or more will predominate, giving rise to certain physical and psychological traits. Each individual's has a unique mind and body type (Prakriti).

Vata

Elements: Air and Space

Qualities: Dry, light, cold, mobile, subtle, rough, sharp, hard, clear

Location in the body: Brain, Heart, Colon, Bones, Lungs, Bladder, Bone marrow, Nerve function, Large intestines

Personality

People of Vata nature enjoy exercise, adventure, travel - they  never sit in one place for too long! They are hyperactive, tend to do few things at the same time hardly finishing them on time or at all. Talkative, think and speak quick and fast, their mind is always active. Vata people learn new things easily but forget fast. They also tend to make money quickly but spend it quickly too, they are not good savers or good planners.

Ideal professions: artist, writer, painter, journalist, traveler, inventor, teacher, etc.


Body

People of Vata nature have a predominance of the qualities cold, light, dry and mobile, they tend to be slender and can be tall or short with prominent bones, their hair are dry, thin and usually curly. Face is oval in shape, nose is small, thin, uneven, eyes are also small with teeny lashes. Lips are often dry and chap easily. Fingers are long and nails are brittle with a tendency to split. Dry and thin skinned, Vata person is easily browned by the sun.


Health

Vata governs physical movement, circulation, communication, mental activity, sensory perception, motor function, respiration, heart function and all nervous system impulses.

Vata people have poor circulation, their hands and feet are usually cold - they often prefer to wear warm clothes and they hate the cold season, they love summer! With irregular appetites and thirst, Vatas often experience underweight, digestive and absorption problems, they usually suffer constipation as well as bloating. Their sleep is often light, disturbed, dreams are active, fearful, restless.

Vata people will quickly go out of balance and quickly come back into balance.


Common Vata disorders:

Constipation, slow or rapid digestion, gas, intestinal cramps, weakness,
arthritis, pneumonia, palpitations, breathlessness, low back ache, sciatica, dry / rough skin, lips and hair, stress related disorders, tics, mental confusion, insomnia, nervous disorders, depression.


Tips to balance Vata:
  • Abhyanga - Whole Body Massage with sesame oil
  • warm, cooked foods,
  • avoid raw foods, juices, fasting and stimulants
  • stay warm in cold, windy weather
  • early bedtime, lots of rest and sleep
  • favor warm, oily, heavy, sweet, sour, and salty tastes
  • minimize an intake of light, dry, cold, pungent, bitter and astringent foods


Pitta

Elements: Fire and Water 

Qualities: Hot, gross, mobile, slightly wet, slightly heavy, sharp, hard, rough, cloudy

Location in the body: Skin, Eyes, Liver, Brain, Blood, Spleen, Endocrine, Metabolic function, Small intestines

Personality

Pittas have fiery personalities, they love a good debate or events where they can be competitive. They have razor sharp minds, a witty sense of humor and have the ability to attract others to follow their direction - they make great leaders! Pittas are extremely focused, punctual, organized and they are list-makers even they have a good, sharp memory.They are perfectionists. When out of balance they may become aggressive, irritable, over-controlling and over-criticizing. 

People of Pitta nature often have a clear but direct way of communicating and acting (which may irritate other people) but they can be counted on to get the job done. Pittas are quick problem solvers, love to go deep into problems and find solutions but have a tendency to be opinionated and controlling. They like living in luxurious homes, having fancy cars and other 'expensive toys'. They earn good money and manage they finances well. 

Ideal professions: doctor, lawyer, judge, leader, engineer, etc.


Body

Pitta people usually have moderate body builds, not very heavy or very thin, medium in size often with an athletic build, good muscular development. Their skin has nice tone and glow, is often oily, may have freckles or some moles, it may be prone to red rashes or acne. The features on their face are sharp – sharp chin, nose, and piercing eyes. Eyes tend to be blue or light in color. The finger nails are pink and strong and their hair is straight and shiny. Pittas have a tendency to have a receding hairline and/or early balding. Pittas are sensitive to the sun and can easily burn their skin if not careful.


Health

Pittas tend to be on the warm side and are prone to “heated” imbalances like fevers, hypertension, pink eye, and skin problems like acne, eczema. They body temperature is a little higher then usual so they feel quite warm and may perspire a lot hence they like cool weather and dislike hot temperatures. They have a strong metabolism, strong digestion and consume large amount of water. When hungry, a Pitta people need to eat quickly as they become irritable. They weight does not change very much, is stable. Pitta sleep is sound an uninterrupted.

It takes them a moderate amount of time to get out of balance and come back into balance.


Common Pitta disorders:

Fevers, rashes, acne, eczema, inflammatory diseases, hives, burning sensation, ulcers, acid indigestion, blood shot eyes, poor vision, hyperacidity, early graying, worcaholism.


Tips to balance Pitta:

  • Foot Massage with warm ghee is the best to cool down
  • keep cool and avoid hot temperatures
  • do not overwork
  • remember to relax
  • have regular mealtimes, especially at noon
  • favor cool, heavy, dry, sweet, bitter and astringent foods
  • reduce pungent, sour, salty, warm, oily foods
  • foods you should avoid: fish, buttermilk, whey, mutton, acidic fruits, alcohol, meat and fatty, oily and spicy foods.
  • avoid fasting



Kapha

Elements: Earth and Water   

Qualities: Cold, wet, gross, dense, static, dull, soft, smooth, cloudy

Location in the body: Brain, Joints, Mouth, Lymph, Stomach, Pleural cavity, Pericardial cavity, Bodily Fluid function

Personality

Kapha people are easy going, extremely tolerant and patient. They won’t ever lead, but are very happy to follow. They speak, move and think slowly, never rush. They are calm, loving people and are not likely to get upset but once you’ve upset a them, they will hold a grudge. Their attitude is positive, mind is steady and once a person of Kapha nature has made up their mind they are not likely to change it. They get easily attached – to people, relationships, emotions, the past. They love collecting things! And they are great money savers too.

Kapha people love eating, sitting and doing nothing, just enjoying life! 

Ideal professions: teacher, healer, nurse, carer, etc.


Body

Kapha people have healthy and well constructed body with large, heavy bones, thick skin and strong joints. Their skin is usually soft, smooth, pale and oily (clammy) and they have big beautiful eyes and teeth. Their hair is thick, wavy and oily, eyelashes are long, full and curly. Kapha hands are big with thick knuckles, thick palms and strong nails.


Health

 Kapha people have very good and strong immune system. Kapha people have a slow digestion and metabolism and tend to gain weight easily but struggle to loose it.  As they don't like move too much or do too much, they tend to maintain the same level of energy during they whole life. Kaphas are tend to 'conserve' their energy rather than  spending it.

Kaphas do not like wet, cold weather.

It takes quite a long time for Kapha people to go out of balance but it also takes time to come back into balance.


Common Kapha disorders:

Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, nausea, bronchial congestion, cold, flu, sinus congestion, allergies (including hay fever), excessive sleep, impaired digestion, poor absorption, lethargy, painful joints. 


Tips for balancing Kapha:

  • vigorous regular exercise, a little each day
  • stay warm in cold, damp weather
  • go to bed early and rise early too
  • avoid sweets and sugar
  • eat fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes
  • favor pungent, bitter, astringent, light, dry and warm foods
  • reduce heavy, oily, cold, sweet, sour and salty food.




Glossary of Sanskrit terms


Abhyanga
- a form of oily massage in which therapeutic oils are applied to the body in synchronized strokes.

Agni - means 'fire', the factor responsible for the processes of digestion and metabolism.

Ama
- is the by-product/waste material of metabolism that can be in any form: solid, liquid or gas.
An accumulation of toxin caused by weak Agni, the root of many diseases.

Asanas - the Sanskrit term for the various postures of yoga.

Basti - one of the five methods of internal cleansing (Panchakarma) used in Ayurveda. Either a medicated decoction or oil enema is used to cleanse the intestines of excess of Vata dosha and as a method of systemic detoxification and rejuvenation.

Chakras - wheels; seven energy centers of consciousness in the body; they are responsible for the different levels of consciousness, they correspond physiologically to the nerve plexus centers.

Doshas - the biological humors (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) which govern all the psycho-biological functions of the mind and body.

Ghee - butter or milk fat, clarified by boiling; has a sacred role in Vedic and modern Hindu rituals and is the principal fuel used for the Hindu votive lamp known as the 'diya'. As Ghee is nourishing and healing is also widely used in Ayurveda - both internal and external.

Gunas - the prime quality of nature (Prakriti); the 20 qualities from which all animate and inanimate substances are composed.

Kati Basti - a hands-on method of healing in which medicated oils or decoctions are applied to to the lower back.

Mantra
- the word means "that which saves the mind". It is a syllable, word or phrase which may be spoken aloud and repeatedly as an aid to meditation.

Marma points - energy points in the body where flesh, veins, arteries, tendon, bones and joints meet. These are junctions between the physical, astral and causal bodies. The marma points are of great importance to a person’s body, mind and spirit. These are the points where the spirit hinges the body.

Namaste - the traditional Indian method of greeting in which the palms of hand are pressed together in front of the chest. Literally translated, the word Namaste means "I bow to the god within you".

Nasya - one of the five methods of internal cleansing in which medicated oils or powders are administrated via the nostrils.

Netra Tarpana - a hands on method of healing in which medicated oil or milk is applied to the eye area.

Ojas - the ultimate vital energy. The prime energy of the body, the subtle essence of all vital fluids, the basis of the immune system, responsible for health, harmony and spiritual growth. Its depletion leads to illness and can result in death.

Om -
(also Aum) written in Devanagari as ?, is a mystical or sacred syllable, is placed at the beginning of most Hindu texts as sacred
incantation to be intoned at the beginning and end of a reading of the Vedas or prior to any prayer or mantra. Om is the mysterious cosmic energy that is the substratum of all the things and all the beings of the entire universe. It is an eternal song of the Divine.



Panchakarma - the five methods of detoxification or internal cleansing which are used to eliminate Ama (undigested toxins) and excess level of the doshas from the tissues of the body and GI tract. They are:
  1. vamana (vomiting therapy),
  2. virechana (purgative therapy),
  3. basti (medicated oil or decoction enemas),
  4. nasya (administration of medicines via the nose),
  5. raktamoksha (various forms of blood-letting).

Pinda Sveda - a topical method of healing in which a hot bolus of medicated herbs is applied to the body to alleviate pain and discomfort.

Prakriti - a person's innate constitution or mind-body type, which is formed at the point of their conception and is unchanging throughout a person's life; natal constitution.

Pranayama - controlled breathing techniques. One of the eight limbs of yogic philosophy.

Rajas
- quality of energy, distraction, activity or aggressive force of creation; a diet and lifestyle that leads to an outgoing or/and aggressive activity; one of the tree Gunas.

Rasayana - a rejuvenation therapy, one of the eight branches of Ayurvedic medicine, which is used to build immunity (ojas) and promote longevity.

Sattva - it is the cosmic force of balance and contentment, a diet and lifestyle that supports a spiritual life; central aspect of the three Gunas; the spiritual principle of prime matter.

Shirodhara - a hands on method of healing in which a warm medicated oil or decoction is applied to the third eye (forehead) in a steady steam for a prolonged period.

Tamas - inert aspect of creation; a diet and lifestyle that creates a negative, lethargic, anti-social attitude and mind; one of three Gunas.

Udvartana - a form of dry massage in which rough, therapeutic powders are applied to the body in synchronized strokes.

Vikriti - a person's constitution at the moment; the state when an individual's original constitution is upset by one or more of the three doshas and becoming imbalanced.




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