Ayurvedic Principles

There are many imortant principles that form the basis of Ayurveda. One set of principles areIdeas about the relationships among people, their health, and the universe.This helps form the basis for how Ayurvedic practitioners think about problems that affect health. Ayurveda holds that:

  • All things in the universe (both living and nonliving) are joined together.

  • Every human being contains elements that can be found in the universe.

  • All people are born in a state of balance within themselves and in relation to the universe.

  • This state of balance is disrupted by the processes of life. Disruptions can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination. Imbalances weaken the body and make the person susceptible to disease.

  • Health will be good if one's interaction with the immediate environment is effective and wholesome.

  • Disease arises when a person is out of harmony with the universe.

Ayurveda also has some basic principles about the body's constitution. "Constitution" refers to a person's general health, how likely he is to become out of balance, and his ability to resist and recover from disease or other health problems. An overview of these beliefs follows.

  • The constitution is called the prakriti. The prakriti is thought to be a unique combination of physical and psychological characteristics and the way the body functions. It is influenced by such factors as digestion and how the body deals with waste products. The prakriti is believed to be unchanged over a person's lifetime.

  • Three qualities called doshas form important characteristics of the constitution, and control the activities of the body. Practitioners of Ayurveda call the doshas by their original Sanskrit names: vata, pitta, and kapha. It is also believed that:

    • Each dosha is made up of one or two of the five basic elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth.
    • Each dosha has a particular relationship to body functions and can be upset for different reasons.
    • A person has her own balance of the three doshas, although one dosha usually is prominent. Doshas are constantly being formed and reformed by food, activity, and bodily processes.
    • Each dosha is associated with a certain body type, a certain personality type, and a greater chance of certain types of health problems.
    • An imbalance in a dosha will produce symptoms that are related to that dosha and are different from symptoms of an imbalance in another dosha. Imbalances may be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle or diet; too much or too little mental and physical exertion; or not being properly protected from the weather, chemicals, or germs.

In summary, it is believed that a person's chances of developing certain types of diseases are related to the way doshas are balanced, the state of the physical body, and mental or lifestyle factors.