Ayurveda is an ancient life-care science that is increasing in popularity each day because of its powerful holistic tools for well-being. It addresses the uniqueness of every individual while simultaneously explaining the interconnectedness of everything that exists. Knowledge of the principles of Ayurveda empowers you to live each day to the fullest. It can help you prevent disease and manage chronic conditions. In part 1, you’ll be introduced to the origin, background, and philosophies of Ayurveda.
Everything in the universe is composed of five elements. This includes the food that you eat, plants and animals around you, your physical body, and the thoughts in your mind. Tuning into these elements can help you understand how your environment and choices impact your mind and body.
These five elements give rise to the three functional bodily energies or Doshas. The concept of the Tridoshas further explains your unique physical and psychological nature, which was determined at birth. It explains your constitution and habits and the imbalances you are prone to experiencing. With these principles of Ayurveda, you can adapt your lifestyle to stay balanced.
Ayurvedic Physiology is explained by the Tridoshas or functional energies of the body. Vata is responsible for movement, Pitta for transformation, and Kapha for cohesion and nourishment. Each of these Doshas is made up of five more Subdoshas that regulate specific bodily-mind processes.
Seven tissues or Dhatus represent the structural or anatomical aspect of Ayurveda. Each of these tissues, or building blocks of the body, has a unique structure and function.
Dhatus, or tissues, are the building blocks of the body and are the locations for the more subtle energies of the Doshas to perform their functions. The Dhatus can be affected by abnormal or aggravated Doshas. According to Ayurveda, there are seven tissues in the body: Rasa (plasma, serum, lymph), Rakta (blood), Māṃsa (muscles), Meda (fat tissue), Asthi (bone), Majja (nerve tissue), and Śukra (reproductive tissue). Maintaining an equilibrium or optimal state of the bodily tissues can prevent diseases and keep your body healthy.
Your immune system and vitality, known as Ojas, is the essence of all tissues. Ojas can be enhanced only if all the Dhatus are healthy. Ojas protects you against pathogens and provides strength and energy to operate at your highest potential.
You have a unique Ayurvedic constitution or Prakriti. It’s the special combination of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha Doshas that you were born with. Knowing your Prakriti will help you to understand your core nature and the choices that support you best. From food choices, exercise, relationships, and career, knowledge of Prakriti can help you navigate it all.
Ayurvedic science beautifully explains the mind-body connection. In the same way, the Tridoshas define the bodily energies, the three Guṇas (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas) define the qualities of the mind. You’ll explore these qualities so you can better manage your mind and tend to the many stressors of life.
Dietary practices are one of the primary pillars of life in Ayurveda for your mood and health. Ayurvedic nutrition begins with a lesson on the inputs of life, or Ahara. Your senses digest the energy you receive from your food as well the people you see and the media you watch. Ayurvedic eating is as much about food choices as it is about cultivating a healthy environment.
Food should be beautiful and taste good! A blend of the six tastes ensures you enjoy the colors and flavors of your meal, and receive a balance of nutrition.
According to Ayurveda, you are what you digest. There’s a digestive fire in your belly. You can feed the flames and learn what will dampen them and should be avoided for optimal digestion. When digestive fire is strong, you’ll incorporate maximum nutrients. You’ll also efficiently eliminate toxins that cause imbalances and disease.
There’s no singular, perfect diet in Ayurvedic science, though there are general guidelines. You’ll discover the principles of Ayurveda that apply to everyone, such as eating fresh and organic food full of life force.
The first goal of Ayurveda is “to preserve the health of the healthy.” Ayurveda’s preventative practices are centered around daily, nightly, weekly and seasonal rituals. By aligning with nature and the principles of Ayurveda, you can unlock higher energy levels, increased metabolism and more joy in your life.
Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath (BSc, BAMS) is an Ayurvedic scholar, researcher, clinician and educator with over 25 years of experience in India and the U.S. Since 2010 he has served Kerala Ayurveda USA as Director for all academic programs and wellness services, as well as Lead Faculty and Chief Ayurvedic Consultant.
Vaidya. Jayarajan earned his degree in Ayurvedic Medicine from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala and served as Chief Medical Officer at Kerala Ayurveda’s award-winning AyurvedaGram Heritage Wellness Center in Bangalore. His wellness and education offerings have been effectively demonstrated and implemented in India, Europe and the U.S.
“Dr. J,” as he is called for short, appreciates the blessings that come with supporting each student’s journey. He supports the wider Ayurvedic community as President of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) and champions the growth of the Ayurvedic profession in the West.
You can find his writing debut, The Parent’s Complete Guide to Ayurveda: Principles, Practices, and Recipes for Happy, Healthy Kids (2022) wherever books are sold. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family and is committed to imparting the traditional teachings of Kerala’s Ayurveda.