What is Ayurveda?

What is Ayurveda?

Originating in India some 5000 years ago, Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical systems of Health Care in practice today.  The word Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit words, Ayus means life or longevity and Veda means science or knowledge.   It is “the science of life” or “the knowledge for longevity”.  Ayurveda is described in the Vedic texts (Rig Veda and Atharva Veda), giving detailed information about healing, surgery and longevity.


Ayurveda is an integrative medicine of prevention and health care with a personalized perspective.  It is also a philosophy of living. This healing system is able to treat the whole person, integrating body, mind (mental and emotional) and spirit rather than treating only symptoms.  Ayurveda seeks to eliminate illness by treating the underlying cause(s).


Ayurveda is a mind-body medicine that shows us how to find our own natural health and unfold our deeper energy potentials for the fullness of life.  Healing follows a path to create a balanced, vibrant state of physical, emotional, spiritual health and harmony with our specific environment.  Improving wellbeing, increasing energy levels, promoting mental clarity and focus, and deepening your own perspective on life are part of this self-healing path.  It is a science of self-care.  The principal word for health in Sanskrit  is ”svastha”  meaning “established in Oneself”.  “Ayurveda, a pragmatic science, teaches living beings how to establish themselves in themselves.” R. Svoboda, 2004.


Ayurveda and Yoga are sister sciences.  Ayurveda is the science of living while yoga is a spiritual science of life.  They work hand in hand to maintain health and happiness.


Foundations of Ayurveda

Ayurveda sees life as an exchange of energy and information between individuals and their environment.  Its theory of health and disease uses a global perspective to predict, balance and improve life through therapeutic modalities.  The ayurvedic way of thinking is ancient; yet it is still accurate today; it is about our inner capacity for self-healing when given self-awareness and the right conditions and environment.


The basic concept of Ayurveda is the theory of the five elements (pancha maha bhutas) as a manifestation of energies or states of matter from the most ethereal to the most concrete.  The five elements are:  Akasha (ether/space), Vayu (air), Agni (fire), Jala (water) and Prithivi (earth).  They are associated two by two to create the 3 doshas:  Vata, Pitta and Kapha.  Vata has ether and air, and governs movement and changes.  Pitta is fire and water, and governs digestion and metabolism. Kapha has water and earth, and maintains and protects the integrity and structure of body and mind.  We all have different proportions of the 3 doshas resulting in a unique combination for each person.  The balance of the three doshas, at the moment of conception, defines what Ayurveda calls constitution (temperament) or “prakruti”.  These doshas fluctuate with time, lifestyle, diet, relationships, workplace and environment, increasing or decreasing causing different conditions or imbalances in body and mind.  This leads to a current state of imbalance called “vikruti”.  The goal of Ayurveda is to maintain or restore the proper balance between these physiological forces.


Ayurveda is the path to restoring harmony within us and with our environment.


Ayurvedic pathogenesis (Samprapti)

  1. Accumulation (Sanchaya)
  2. Provocation (Prakopa)
  3. Overflow (Prasara)
  4. Infiltration (Sthana Samshraya)
  5. Manifestation (Vyakti)
  6. Destruction (Bheda)

Ayurveda healthcare is a preventive medical system, which has defined six stages of disease.  It is only between the 4th and the 5th stage that symptoms of the disease appear and become visible to modern medicine.  Prevention at earlier stages is one of the great qualities of Ayurveda healthcare.  Clinical Ayurvedic Specialists (CAS) have the knowledge to guide your journey to learn about an individual’s tendencies towards imbalances, and how to stay balanced to help you heal.


The goal of your Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist is to understand your constitution. This is accomplished by looking at the patient as a whole, considering lifestyle, activities, diet, stressful life events and mind-body relationships.  Integration of this information allows the trained Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist to define the nature of imbalances and to develop an individualized plan for you to restore healthful balances.  Healing takes place when the body and mind are in harmony and normal physiological processes are in equilibrium.