Ayurveda 101: An Introduction for Beginners 

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Ayurveda is an ancient, holistic science that started in India between 5000 and 6000 BC. Ayurveda is actually the world’s oldest health care system, with its roots in the Vedas, the most ancient Hindu scriptures in existence. For generations, this practice has spread across other countries, thanks to its individualized approach to health and wellness. 

 Today, Ayurvedic methods are continuously used around the world because they are easily incorporated into daily routines, can be personalized to each individual, and are able to make healthy living more accessible. 

The Meaning of "Ayurveda"

When broken down across languages, ‘Ayu’ means life and ‘Veda’ means knowledge or science. Science forms the base for all of Ayurveda; this includes the scientific facts that energy can be transformed from state to state, and that humans are made of the same molecules that make up the rest of the universe. 

At its core, Ayurveda aims to enhance a person’s health by working to keep their doshas in equilibrium, their digestive system balanced, and their body’s systems working in a normal, steady state. 

The Five Elements

The Ayurvedic system relies on the mahabhuta theory, or the five-element theory, which confirms that nothing and no one can exist entirely on their own. Therefore, the five elements work hand in hand to support your health, both as an individual and as a community member: 
    • Air: Movement and change 
    • Fire: Transformation 
    • Water: Cohesion and protection 
    • Earth: Stability 
    • Space: Infinite possibility 

As long as a good balance is maintained amongst the five elements, a person will remain healthy. But as soon as this balance is upset, Ayurveda teaches us that health can quickly decline.

The Doshas

The five elements combine in different pairings and in different amounts. These variations make up the three doshas, or individual humors: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

In Ayurveda, these three doshas are believed to be responsible for each person’s mental, emotional, and physiological health. They, too, rely on the maintenance of balance in order to have positive impacts on each person’s overall health. 

It is believed that each person has a mix of the three doshas inside of them, helping to determine particular qualities and biological traits. The terms for these combinations Prakriti and Vikriti. 

By understanding your Prakriti, you can understand your baseline nature and which doshas are most prominent. On the other hand, Vikriti describes the current condition of your health, and can be used to identify the current imbalance in your doshas. The largest distinction between the two is that Prakriti is the dosha constitution that you are born with, while Vikriti is the current state of your dosha constitution and is based on the choices that you make throughout your life. 

Since there are connections between certain types of Prakriti and health diagnoses, people who practice Ayurveda often choose lifestyles, routines, diets, and medications with their dosha in mind. 

At its core, Ayurveda strives to not only add years to a person’s life, but to also enhance their quality of life in the years they have left.