Ayurveda - Science of life

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[ ]Ayurveda is a wholistic system of medicine from India that uses a constitutional model. Its aim is to provide guidance regarding food and lifestyle so that healthy people can stay healthy and folks with health challenges can improve their health.

There are several aspects to Ayurveda that are quite unique:

  1. Its recommendations will often be different for each person regarding which foods and which lifestyle they should follow in order to be completely healthy. This is due to it's use of a constitutional model.
  2. Everything in Ayurveda is validated by observation, inquiry, direct examination and knowledge derived from the ancient texts.
  3. It understands that there are energetic forces that influence nature and human beings. These forces are called the Tridoshas.
  4. Because Ayurveda sees a strong connection between the mind and the body, a huge amount of information is available regarding this relationship.


[ ]Ayurveda is an intricate system of healing that originated in India thousands of years ago. We can find historical evidence of Ayurveda in the ancient books of wisdom known as the Vedas. In the Rig Veda, over 60 preparatison were mentioned that could be used to assist an individual in overcoming various ailments. The Rig Veda was written over 6,000 years ago, but really Ayurveda has been around even longer than that. What we see is that A yurveda is more than just a medical system. It is a Science of Life. We are all part and parcel of nature. Just as the animals and plants live in harmony with nature and utilize the Laws of Nature to create health and balance within their beings, we, too, adhere to these very same principles. Therefore, it is fair to say that Ayurveda is a system that helps maintain health in a person by using the inherent principles of nature to bring the individual back i nto equilibrium with their true self. In essence Ayurveda has been in existence since the beginning of time because we have always been governed by nature's laws.


[ ]Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words: Ayu which means life and Veda which means the knowledge of. To know about life is Ayurveda. However, to fully comprehend the vast s cope of Ayurveda let us first define "Ayu" or life. According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, "ayu" is comprised of four essential parts. The combination of mind, body, senses and the soul.

Mind, Body, and Sences

[ ]We tend to identify most with our physical bodies; yet, in actuality, there is more to us then what meets the eye. We can see that underlying our physical structure is the mind, which not only controls our thought processes but helps assist us in carrying out day-to-day activities such as respiration, circulation, digestion and elimination. The mind and the body work in conjunction with one another to regulate our physiology. In order for the mind to act appropriately to assist the physical body, we must use our senses as information gatherers. We can think of the mind as a computer and the senses as the data which gets entered into the computer. Smell and taste are two important senses th at aid in the digestive process. When the mind registers that a particular food is entering the gastrointestinal tract, it directs the body to act accordingly by releasing various digestive enzymes. However, if we overindulge the taste buds with too much of a certain taste, such as sweet, we may find that the ability of the mind to perceive the sweet taste is impaired; and thereby the body becomes challenged in its ability to process sweet foods. Maintaining the clarity of our senses is an essential part in allowing the mind and body to integrate their functions and help in keeping us healthy and happy individuals.


[ ]Ayurveda also sees that before we exist in physical form with the help of the mind and senses that we exist in a more subtle form known as the soul. The ancient seers of India believed tha t we were comprised of a certain energetic essence that precluded the inhabitance of our physical entity. In fact, they hypothesized that we may indeed occupy many physical bodies throughout the course of time but that our underlying self or soul remains unchanged. What we see to help illustrate this concept is what transpires at the time of death. When the individual nears the time to leave the physical body, many of his/her desires will cease to be present. As the soul no longer identifies with the bod y, the desire to eat food or indulge in a particular activity that used to be a great source of satisfaction for that person drops by the wayside. In fact, many individuals have been documented to experience the sensation of being "out of their bodies."

These are just a few examples of how we are made up of these four components that we call life.


[ ]Now that we have a better understanding of what comprises life, let's look at some of the principles of Ayurveda and how they might affect us.

[ ]In Ayurveda we view a person as a unique individual made up of five primary elements. The elements are ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth. Just as in nature, we too have these five elements in us. When any of these elements are present in the environment, they will in turn have an influence on us. The foods we eat and the weather are just two examples of the presence of these elements. While we are a composite of these five primar y elements, certain elements are seen to have an ability to combine to create various physiological functions. Ether and air combine to form what is known in Ayurveda as the Vata dosha. Vata governs the principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination. Fire and water are the elements that combine to form the Pitta dosha. The Pitta dosha is the process of transf ormation or metabolism. The transformation of foods into nutrients that our bodies can assimilate is an example of a pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism. Finally, it is pr edominantly the water and earth elements which combine to form the Kapha dosha. Kapha is what is responsible for growth, adding structure unit by unit. Another function of the Kapha dosha is to offer protection. Cerebral-sp inal fluid protects the brain and spinal column and is a type of Kapha found in the body. Also, the mucousal lining of the stomach is another example of the Kapha dosha protecting the tissues. We are all made up of unique proportions of Vata, Pitta and Ka pha. These ratios of the doshas vary in each individual; and because of this, Ayurveda sees each person as a special mixture that accounts for our diversity.

[ ]Ayurveda gives us a model to look at each individual as a unique makeup of the three doshas and to thereby design treatment protocols that specifically address a persons health challenges. When any of the doshas ( Vata, Pitta or Kapha ) become accumulated, Ayurveda will suggest specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in reducing the dosha that has become excessive. We may also suggest certain herbal supplemen ts to hasten the healing process. If toxins in the body are abundant, then a cleansing process known as Pancha Karma is recommended to eliminate these unwanted toxins.


[ ]This understanding that we are all unique individuals enables Ayurveda to address not only specific health concerns but also offers explanation as to why one person responds differently th an another. We hope that you will continue to explore Ayurveda to enhance your health and to gain further insights into this miracle we call life.


What are the Tridoshas?

Ayurveda's concept of the Tridoshas is unique to medical science. Ayurveda says the body is made up of tissues (dhatus), waste products (malas), and doshas (loosely translated to Energetic Forces). It is the Tridoshas' job to assist with the creation of all of the various tissues of the body and to remove any unnecessary waste products from the body. It is also the Tridoshas that influence all movements, all transformations, all sensory functions, and many of the other activities in the human body and mind.

Vata dosha

The Vata dosha is the most important of the three doshas. This is for two reasons. First, if Vata becomes imbalanced for long enough and sufficiently enough, it can also cause the other two doshas (Pitta or Kapha) to become imbalanced. It can even cause both Pitta and Kapha to become imbalanced; this is called a Tridoshic imbalance and is the most difficult to overcome. Secondly, Vata is the main driver or mover of the body, including the other two doshas, all the tissues (dhatus) and all of the waste products (malas).
Vata provides the following functions:
All eliminations: fetus, semen, feces, urine, sweat, and a few others
Assists with all the various metabolisms in the body (called Agni in Ayurveda)
Controls all of the various movement of body (both physical & mental),
including such things as respiration, heart beat, motivation and contraction of muscles
Relays all sensory input from the various sense organs to the brain

Pitta dosha

The Pitta dosha is associated with fire or heat. Wherever there is transformation, there is Pitta (doing its job). Whether it is in the GI tract, liver, skin, eyes or brain doesn't matter, for these are all locations where Pitta works.
Pitta provides the following functions:
Metabolism - at all the various levels
from digestion of food to transformation of all other material
Thermogenesis - maintains the proper body temperature
Vision - converts external images into optic nerve impulses
Appetite - the feeling of hunger and thirst
Comprehension - of information into knowledge, also reasoning and judgment
Courage & Braveness - to face the situation
Complexion - gives color and softness to skin

Kapha dosha

Kapha is the heaviest of the three doshas. It provides the structures and the lubrication that the body needs. These qualities help to counterbalance Vata's movement and Pitta's metabolism. A big, heavyset football play or wrestler is a person with a predominance of Kapha.
Kapha provides the following functions:
Strength - to perform physical tasks
Moistness & Lubrication - to prevent excessive friction from occurring between the various parts of the body
Stability - to add the necessary grounding aspect to both mind and body
Mass & Structure - to provide fullness to bodily tissues
Fertility & Virility - to produce healthy offspring

Why should I care?

Because by learning how to balance the Tridoshas, the following goals can likely be achieved:
Prevention of many diseases before they take hold
(In other words, keep healthy folks healthy)
In many cases, slowing down or reversing the disease process
(particularly the case in many auto immune disorders)
Assistance in becoming totally healthy: physically, mentally, and spiritually
(In other words, maximize your full potential)
What is really nice about Ayurveda is that learning to balance the Tridoshas is easy. Much of Ayurveda is common sense; it is based upon the laws of nature. The tools one uses to balance the Tridoshas are lifestyle management and the proper nutritional protocols.
Nutritional Protocols? What is this term - Nutritional Protocols? Wouldn't some people call this diet? Sure, some would; however, we definitely would not use this word. I wouldn't want to be on a diet, would you? On the other hand, learning to eat tasty, well-balanced meals that are easy to digest and even easier to cook -- now that's something I like!

Ayurveda goes into great detail explaining all of these different aspects of the body, how the functioning of the body can go wrong, and what to do in order to correct the problem. Likewise, it also explains how each individual can create a customized nutritional protocol and lifestyle plan that can prevent disorders from occurring in the first place.

What is the Normal State of the Tridoshas?

When the Tridoshas are balanced, the individual experiences health on all levels: mental, physical and spiritual. This is much more than the mere absence of disease.
The following areas help to define what Ayurveda considers as health.

Happiness - sense of well being
Emotions - evenly balanced emotional states
Mental Functions - good memory, comprehension, intelligence, and reasoning ability
Senses - proper functioning of eyes, ears, nose, taste, and touch
Energy - abundant mental & physical energy to perform
Digestion - easy digestion of food and drink
Elimination - normal elimination of wastes: sweat, urine, feces and others
Physical Body - healthy bodily tissues, organs, and systems

What causes the Tridoshas to become Imbalanced?

Balanced & Imbalanced

Each of the three doshas have certain quantity, qualities, and functions. When all of these are balanced, it is called normal or balanced (Dosha Shamya). This condition is conducive to well-being, health, and wellness. However, this balanced state is not stable; it is always changing. The Doshas will become either increased (vriddhi) or decreased (kasaya). Both of these states lead to ill-health or disease. However, increased Doshas have much more power to cause problems than do decreased Doshas. The important point here is to understand that each dosha has a set of qualities (gunas) associated with it which can increase or decrease in quantity.

§ Qualities of Vata Dosha

Cold, Light, Dry, Rough, Hard, Mobile and the Ability to penetrate fine particles

§ Qualities of Pitta Dosha

Hot, Sharp, Slightly Oily, Penetrating, Liquid, Light and can be sour and foul smelling when excessively increased

§ Qualities of Kapha Dosha

Cool, Heavy, Dense, Stable, Oily and slimy

Two kinds of Imbalances
§ Natural - imbalances

Natural imbalance is due to time and age, which are mild and normally do not cause any problems. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha increase and become predominant during one's life, during a season and during certain times of day. For example, Vata is predominant during the latter part of one's life, during the fall season and during late afternoon, as well as during the last part of night and the last part of digestion. Whew!! I know that's a lot of stuff! Hang in there! Pitta is predominant during middle age, during the summer season, at midday, at midnight and during the middle part of digestion. Kapha is predominant during childhood, during the spring season, in late morning, at the first part of evening and during the early part of digestion.

§ Unnatural - imbalances

Unnatural imbalances of the Doshas can be caused by such things as: inappropriate diet, inappropriate lifestyle, trauma (like a car accident), viruses, parasites, etc. While some of these items are beyond our control, the type of lifestyle we live and the foods we eat are within our control.

§ Like increases Like

To learn how to reduce the Tridoshas, it is first necessary to understand what causes the Tridoshas to increase. The reason, according to a simple rule in Ayurvedic principles, is: "Like increases Like, while Dislike (opposite) decreases Like." For example, if you are cold and you eat ice cream, you will become colder; or if you are hot and you eat chilli peppers, you will become hotter. These examples, which seem so obvious, are the basis for much of what is done in Ayurveda that allows its exceptional results. Herein lies one of the true beauties of Ayurveda: its principles are so simple, so basic, that it naturally appeals to common sense.

§ Example of Vata increasing Lifestyle and Foods

So if we engage in either lifestyles or consumes foods that have Vata qualities one will be increasing the Vata dosha in themself. Some examples of Vata increasing activities are the following: running outside in the fall while dressed lightly when it is cold, dry with lots of winds blowing, going to rock concert after skipping a meal and not having slept all night, eating popcorn while driving in traffic with the music blasting, never taking time to rest, relax and take it easy. Basically any activity that is nerve racking and/or highly stimulating is going to increase (aggravate) Vata. Example of Vata increasing foods would be things that have the above mentioned qualities and/or taste bitter, astringent or pungent like: popcorn, rice cakes, beans, cayenne pepper, coffee and alfalfa sprouts.

Therefore, note that whatever one does that has the above mentioned qualities (food,lifestyle,relationship) in it will cause that dosha to increase(aggravate).

And the name of the game in preventing disease is not to aggravate any of the Tridoshas; to keep them calm and happy. So all you need is to understand what factors increase and decrease each of the three doshas; Vata, Pitta and Kapha and follow those recommendations when necessary to avoid disease and promote overall health. Really it's actually quite simple. Most of us can follow those Lifestyle suggestions for reducing each of the three doshas, and simply follow a Tridoshic nutritional program. Tridoshic meals can be very easy to cook, checkout some of our Tridoshic Recipes. If you want to understand more about each doshic you can read each of the topics - Kapha, Pitta and Vata.


- Ayurvedic Detoxification and Rejuvenation -

Pancha Karma is the cornerstone to Ayurvedic management of disease. Whereas diet, lifestyle and herbal supplements play key roles in creating and maintaining health; Pancha Karma is the process which gets to the root cause of the problem and corrects the essential balance of mind, body, and emotions.

Pancha Karma is not only good for alleviating disease but is also a useful tool in maintaining excellent health. Ayurveda advises undergoing Pancha Karma at the seasonal changes to both keep the metabolism strong and keep toxins from accumulating in the Mind/Body. Using Pancha Karma prior to any rejuvenation treatment (herbal tonics and foods) greatly enhances the beneficial effects; for it cleanses the body, improves the digestion and improves the metabolic processes of the Mind/Body.

What is Pancha Karma? And what is the rational behind the therapy?

The therapeutic management involved with Pancha Karma covers many aspects and is designed to achieve increased efficiency of medicines, foods and rasayanas (tonics). Before medicine, food or rejuvenative tonics are taken, it is essential that the body become receptive so that it is capable of absorbing and assimilating what is being taken and that the accumulated wastes and toxins are eliminated. An analogy of this would be if one tries to dye cloth that is heavily soiled and dirty the dye will not take very well; however, if the same cloth was properly cleaned then dyed the dye would work beautifully. In addition this therapy greatly enhances one's natural immunity thereby providing additional protection from many diseases and disorders.

There are several eliminative procedures in Pancha Karma that assist in eliminating toxins.

Therapeutic vomiting (vamana) promotes elimination from the stomach and thoracic cavity.

Purgation (virechana) promotes elimination from the small intestine.

Therapeutic enema (basti) works on the colon to eliminate toxins and strengthens the tissues.

Nose drops (nasya) cleanse toxins from the head and sinuses.

Warm oil massage and sweat therapies prepare the body to eliminate the toxins (doshas) from their respective zones. This approach is unique in that it insures that the underlying tissues are not damaged by the elimination procedures mentioned above. This attention to the proper preparation of the body prior to the elimination of toxins is unequal in the health care field and is what makes Pancha Karma so unique and effective.

After Pancha Karma a specific graded diet is followed for seven days to assure that the agni returns to a normal balanced state and that no further Ama (toxins) is formed in the GI tract.

In addition to the previously mentioned karmas there are many other therapeutic techniques that Ayurveda has to offer that can be used singularly or in combination for the desired effect upon the patient.


TRIDOSHIC RECIPES - Meals to Everyone

§ Kisharee

Qty Type Item
--- ----- ----------------------------
1 Cups Split Mung dal (yellow)
2 Cups White Basmati rice
1 inch Fresh ginger root
1 small handful of cilantro leaves
2 TBS. Ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 tsp. Turmeric
1/2 tsp. Coriander powder
1/2 tsp. Cumin powder
1/2 tsp. Whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. Salt (rock salt is best)
1 pinch Hing (also called Asafoetida)
5-7 cups Water (amount of water depends upon climate)

*Note: Can use Bragg’s Amino Acid for extra flavor after cooking is completed.
Also can be used as a replacement for salt.


Wash dal and rice together until water runs clear. Heat a large sauce pan on medium heat then add ghee (clarified butter), next mustard seeds, tumeric, hing, whole cumin seeds, cumin powder, and coriander powder. Stir all together for a few minutes. Then add rice, dal and stir again. Now add the water, salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Next turn heat down to low, cover, and continue cooking until both dal and rice becomes soft. The cilantro leaves can be added before serving.


Tridosha balancing, and useful for detoxifying, very easy to digest.

§ Yellow Mung Dal Soup

Qty Type Item
--- ----- ----------------------------
1 Cups Yellow split mung dal
6 Cups Water
2 TBS. Ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 tsp. Black mustard seeds
1 tsp. Whole cumin seeds
1 pinch hing
2 TBS. Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp. Salt (Rock salt is best)
1/2 tsp. Ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. Ground cumin seeds


Wash the mung dal untill the water runs clear. Heat pot on medium heat, add water and dal. Cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Then in sauce pan at medium heat add ghee when it is liquid you can add spices (add salt to taste). Then add spicey ghee mix to soap. Before serving garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves.


This dish reduces both Kapha and Vata doshas. With the spices it reduces the Pitta dosha. It is very easy to digest.

§ Cilantro Chutney

Qty Type Item
--- ----- --------------------------------------------------------
1/2 Cup Fresh Chopped Cilantro leaves
1/2 Cup Fresh Grated Coconut or dried is OK
1/2 tsp. Fresh Grated Ginger
1/2 tsp. Whole Cumin seeds
1 tsp. Fresh Lime juice
Water - just enough to mix together


Wash cilantro leaves thoughly, then chop cilantro removing thick stems. Add cilantro, coconut, grated ginger, cumin seeds, lime juice, and salt into blender. Blend together at high speed until it is thoughly mix together (it should be like a fine paste). You may need to add a small amount of water. This chutney can be eaten as a appetizer with other foods.


Balances all three doshas. Cilantro has a cooling properties, it reduces the Pitta dosha. Both ginger and cumin stimulate and aid in digestion.

§ Ghee Clarified Butter
Preparation time: less then 30 minutes


Qty Type Item
--- ----- --------------------------------------------------
1 lb. High Quality Butter (Organic is best)

Bring the butter to boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered until done. There are a couple of ways to determine when it is done. One way is after the butter turns a clear golden color, dip a strip of paper into the butter, then move away from the butter and all other flammables and light the strip of paper on fire, if the paper sputters, crackles and pops, then the water has not been completely cooked-out and the ghee is not yet done. After using this method a time or two you can easily tell by the smell and color when the ghee has been properly cooked. Note when the butter first starts to boil there will be alot of bubbling and gurgling, then this action will subside, next the ghee will begin to develop a foam at the top, at this point the ghee is done. Once you make Ghee a time or two it becomes easy to tell when it is done.


What is Ghee? It's is basically butter that has the milk solids and water removed. According to Ayurveda, Ghee (clarified butter) is the best oil for cooking. This is because when used in moderation it stimulates the digestion (Agni) better than any other oil. It also has the ability to increase ones immunity (called Ojas in Ayurveda). Give it a try! It is very tasty and without the side effects of plain butter. If your are like the rest of us around here you will not go back to using any other oil for your cooking. Note Ghee does not require refrigeration if you keep mosture out of it; for example, don't dip a wet spoon into the ghee jar.

§ Mixed Vegetables

Qty Type Item
--- ----- --------------------------------------------------
1 Cup Fresh Zucchini
1 Cup Fresh Asparagus
1/4 Cup Red & Yellow Bell Pepper
1 tsp. Fresh Ground Cumin seed Powder
1 tsp. Fresh Ground Corrinder seed Powder
1 tsp. Whole Cumin seeds
1 tsp. Mustard Seeds
Pinch Hing
1-2 TBS. Ghee (recipes above)
1 tsp. Salt


Melt ghee in medium sause pan then add spices except for salt and saute. Add vegetables and cook on medium heat, stir often to prevent burning of veggies. When veggies are soft and well cooked, then add-in salt and garnish with cilantro before serving.


Balances all three doshas. Is easy to digest and you can try different vegetables for variety.

§ Lime Rice

Qty Type Item
--- ----- --------------------------------------------------
1 Cup White Basmati Rice
2 Cups Water
1 TBS. Urad Dal or Mung dal
1/2 tsp. Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp. Tumeric Powder
2 TBS. Ground Coconut
Pinch Hing
1 tsp. Whole Cumin seeds
1 tsp. Fresh Lime juice (or more to taste)
2 TBS. Ghee
1 tsp. Salt


Cooking rice and dal with water for 10 to 12 minutes. Saute spices (except for salt) in melted ghee. Then mix rice and sautéed spice mix together (along with lime juice). Add salt. Before serving you can add cilantro and grated coconut to make the dish more colorful.


Balances all three doshas. Both ginger and cumin stimulate and aid in digestion.

§ Simple Greens

Qty Type Item
--- ----- --------------------------------------------------
2 Cup Fresh Greens (about 1 cup per Person)
2 tsp. Ghee (clarifed butter)
1 tsp. Raw Sugar
1/2 tsp. Whole Cumin Seeds
1 tsp. Whole Corriander Seeds
1/2 tsp. Turmeric Powder
1-2 Tbs. Ghee


Rinse the greens thoughly then slice them into 1 inch squares, remove all stems if you want to make extra smooth you can put into blender. Place either a wok or sauce pan on medium high heat, then add the ghee, when it's hot add the spices and stir for few seconds. Next add the greens stiring constantly until soft and well cooked but not soggy.


Greens are bitter which normally reduces Pitta (fire), however greens are unique in that their effect during digestion is heating. Therefore we add some sugar and corriander seeds to cool things down a bit and make this dish more Tridoshic(balancing for everyone). After digestion in the G.I. tract greens have Pungent Vipak which means they causes a reducing of tissue mass in the body, again the addition of sugar and corriander in this recipe helps offset some of the strong effects of greens. However most people shouldn't eat greens more then a couple times a week, otherwise these above mentioned effects of greens can become too imbalancing (on doshas & dhatus).

© Copyright 1996 by Ayurvedic Foundations

(above) Digital Mandalas by Carmen Thiago