Basic Knowledge About Ayurveda Healing :: Ayurveda Therapies
A healing system that originated thousands of years ago in India, Ayurveda is based on the notion that good health depends on the balance between mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda focuses on restoring balance in the body through a personalized plan that can include massage, specialized diets, herbs, aromatherapy, and exercise.
According to Ayurvedic theory, everyone is made of a combination of five elements: air, water, fire, earth, and space. These elements combine in the body to form three energies or life forces, called doshas: vata, kapha, and pitta. Although there is a unique mix of the three doshas, one dosha is usually the most influential.
In Ayurveda, the balance of a person's doshas is thought to explain some of his or her individual differences and the likelihood of illness. An imbalanced dosha is believed to interrupt the natural flow of vital energy, or prana. The disrupted energy flow is thought to impair digestion and allow the build up of body waste, or ama, which further impairs energy and digestion.
The vata dosha is a combination of space and air. It controls movement and is responsible for basic body processes such as breathing, cell division, and circulation. Vata body areas are the large intestine, pelvis, bones, skin, ears, and thighs. People with vata as their main dosha are believed to be quick-thinking, thin, and fast, and be susceptible to anxiety, dry skin, and constipation.
The kapha dosha represents the elements of water and earth. Kapha is believed to be responsible for strength, immunity, and growth. Kapha body areas are the chest, lungs, and spinal fluid. People with kapha as their main dosha are thought to be calm, have a solid body frame, and be susceptible to diabetes, obesity, sinus congestion, and gallbladder problems.
The pitta dosha combines fire and water. It is thought to control hormones and the digestive system. Pitta body areas are the small intestines, stomach, sweat glands, skin, blood, and eyes. People with pitta as their primary dosha are thought to have a fiery personality, oily skin, and be susceptible to heart disease, stomach ulcers, inflammation, heartburn, and arthritis.
A Typical Assessment
An initial assessment with an Ayurvedic practitioner may last an hour or longer. The practitioner will usually ask detailed questions about your health, diet, and lifestyle. He or she will listen to 12 different pulse points on your wrists.
An Ayurvedic practitioner also examines your tongue for clues about areas of the body that may be out of balance. The appearance of the skin, lips, nails, and eyes is also observed.
After the assessment, the practitioner will determine your unique balance of doshas. One dosha is usually dominant and may be imbalanced. The practitioner also determines your constitution, or prakut.
After the assessment, the practitioner typically creates an individualized treatment plan including diet, exercise, herbs, yoga, meditation, and massage. The treatment plan generally focuses on restoring balance to one or two doshas.
- Diet: A specialized diet may be recommended to balance a person's doshas. See a list of foods thought to balance each dosha.
- Cleansing and detoxification: This may be done through fasting, enemas, diets, and body treatments.
- Herbal medicine: Examples of ayurvedic herbs and spices are turmeric, triphala, ashwaghanda, gotu kola, guggul, and boswellia.
- Massage and body treatments: Examples include abhyanga, an Ayurvedic-style massage, and shirodhara, a treatment that involves a stream of warm herb-infused oil poured on the forehead. Other bodywork treatments include swedana, udvartina, and pindasveda.
- Herbal tea: Pitta tea, vata tea, kapha tea
Currently, there are no national standards for the certification training or licensing ayurvedic practitioners in the United States or Canada.
:: Disclaimer ::
The sole purpose of these posts is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.