Ayurveda is considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word which means "The Science of Life." Ayurvedic knowledge originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is often called the "Mother of All Healing". It stems from the ancient Vedic culture and was taught for many thousands of years in an oral tradition from accomplished masters to their disciples. Some of this knowledge was set to print a few thousand years ago, but much of it is inaccessible. The principles of many, if not all, natural healing systems now familiar in the West, such as Homeopathy and Polarity Therapy, have their roots in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages maintaining health by paying close attention to balance in one's life through right thinking, diet, lifestyle and herbs. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create balance of body, mind and consciousness according to one's own individual constitution and how to make lifestyle changes to bring about and maintain this balance.
Just as everyone has an individual face or thumb print, according to Ayurveda, each person has a particular pattern of energy--an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics--which is his or her constitution. This constitution is determined at conception by a number of factors and is the same throughout one's life. Many factors, both internal and external, act upon us to disturb this balance and are reflected as a change in one's constitution from the balanced state. Examples of some of these emotional and physical stresses are: one's emotional state, diet and food choices, seasons and weather, physical trauma, work and family relationships. Once these factors that can cause imbalance are understood, one can take appropriate actions to nullify or minimize their effects or eliminate the causes, and re-establish one's original constitution. Balance is the natural order; imbalance is disorder. Health is order; disease is disorder. Within the body there is a constant interaction between order and disorder. Once one understands the nature and structure of disorder, one can re-establish order.
Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or functional principles that are present in everybody and everything. There are no single words in English to describe these principles, so we use the original Sanskrit words vata, pitta and kapha. Energy is required to create movement so that fluids and nutrients get to the cells, enabling the body to function. Energy is also required to metabolize the nutrients in the cells, and is called for to lubricate and maintain cellular structure. Vata is the energy of movement, pitta the energy of digestion or metabolism and kapha the energy of lubrication and structure. All people have vata, pitta and kapha, but one is usually primary, one secondary and the third least prominent. The cause of disease in Ayurveda is viewed as the lack of proper cellular function because of an excess or deficiency of vata, pitta or kapha and/or the presence of toxins. In Ayurveda, body, mind and consciousness work together in maintaining balance. They are simply viewed as different facets of one's being.
To learn how to balance the body, mind and consciousness then requires an understanding how vata, pitta and kapha work together. According to Ayurvedic philosophy the entire cosmos is an interplay of the energies of the five great elements--Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Vata, pitta and kapha are combinations and permutations of these five elements that manifest as patterns present in all creation.