The third pillar for a harmonious life is Ayurveda – The Science of Life. It originates from the Atharva-Veda, one of the 4 books of the Vedic period in India and is the oldest known medical treatise. Health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. It encompasses all aspects of our well-being, from breathing to digestion throughout life. Therefore, Yoga (exercise, see Part I), Tantra (spiritual practice, see Part II) and Ayurveda are the central aspects for a harmonious and healthy life. Yoga and Tantra are practised to achieve the ultimate goal of liberation, while Ayurveda leads to a healthy and balanced life. Ayurveda is the foundation, Yoga is the body, and Tantra is the head. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the foundation in order to experience the ultimate goals of Yoga and Tantra. These three practices form an interdependent trinity of life. To experience a truly healthy body, mind or consciousness, it is recommended to follow all three disciplines.
The fundament of Ayurveda consists of three different constitutions called Doshas; Vata, Pitta and Kapha which are present in the body, in food, and all organs, and thus encompass all aspects of nutrition. All components in the entire universe are made of 5 elements; ether, air, fire, water, and earth. These elements are grouped into 3 main Doshas, which then manifest into 6 body constitutions; Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, Pitta-Kapha, and Tri-Dosha. Ether and air define Vata, fire and water Pitta, earth and water determine Kapha. The goal is to balance the Doshas which leads to health and happiness, while imbalance results in disease. Through nutrition, i.e. digestion, and behaviour a person tries to increase or decrease a certain Dosha to maintain balance. A natural routine is likewise relevant monitoring your waking, sleeping, working, meditation, exercise, etc. Further, hygiene, including regular bathing, cleaning of teeth and tongue, skincare, and eye washing are important practices.
Nutrition based on your body constitution is the fundament of well being. All nutrition given to the body turns into energy that supports our body, mind, and spirit. The metabolic fire called Agni that governs the body system. It functions as the catalytic agent in digestion and metabolism. It is responsible for longevity, intelligence, understanding, perception, comprehension, skin colour, metabolism, and enzyme system. As long as Agni is functioning properly, the process of digestion operates smoothly, resulting in good health. However, when Agni is impaired, it results in the immune system becoming injured. Food remains undigested, and therefore no nutrients absorbed. The accumulation of undigested material in the intestine putrefies and becomes Ama (toxin) which then clogs the intestines and other bodily channels. Once these toxins are reabsorbed back into the blood system, they can accumulate in weaker areas of the body, causing diseases to manifest. The root of all disease is Ama, undigested food, thought, emotion, and experience particles. A white-coated tongue indicates that Ama exists in the intestine or stomach. An over-active metabolic fire causes a lack of nutrient digestion.
Toxins can also be created by emotional factors. Repressed anger completely changes the flora of the gallbladder, bile duct, small intestine causing inflamed patches on the membranes of the stomach and small intestines. Anxiety and fear can alter the flora of the large intestine. This, in turn, can cause bloating and pain, which can sometimes turn into further problems. Repressing any bodily urge, like coughing or sneezing, or flatulence should be avoided as this creates an imbalance of Vata, which affects Agni. This likewise can result in abnormal reactions and allergies.
Ayurvedic practitioners regard physical existence, mental existence, and personality as segments influencing each other. Ayurveda takes the view that normality must be assessed separately for each individual. Western medicine tends to categorize, analyze and derive individual diseases logically, without addressing the complicated synergy of how everything naturally works together in harmony. It considers the norm to be what is common in the majority of people. It tends to trust objectivity, whereas Eastern medicine goes beyond the separation between subjectivity and objectivity. In the Eastern understanding, the key is acceptance, observation, and experience. Ayurvedic practitioners use eight ways to diagnose illness; pulse, urine, stool, tongue, speech, touch, vision, and appearance. They then approach diagnosis by using the five elements. Therapies include herbal compounds, minerals, metal substances, massages and relaxation.
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