3 Ayurvedic principles to understand your health
There are 3 principles that have given me much clarity in understanding my body and starting my healing journey. Inspired by mother’s Ayurvedic treatment for Arthritis, I started studying to become an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor and dig deeper into Ayurveda for knowledge about my body and mind.
You are the healer
First, Ayurveda says, you are the healer.
Or simply, that every individual can heal oneself. The body knows how to heal itself, and will do so if we provide it with the nourishment it needs. Ayurveda empowers every individual to become aware of this natural intelligence within our body and take charge of their own healing. This principle gave me strength and hope; that I could heal myself even though I had been lost for a long time.
Our body is a mirror
Second, Ayurveda says that we are deeply and inevitably connected to nature.
The human body is a mirror of our physical surroundings.
We come from nature and we go back to nature. The space we inhabit, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the heat of the sun and the earth underneath our feet are each an example of the physiological structures outside our bodies that are reflected in our own elemental composition. We are made of the 5 elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Our body’s rhythms also reflect the changing seasons, the movement of the sun, the natural rhythms of the day and night etc. These natural rhythms have a profound impact on how our body & mind works.
Ayurveda says that every individual is unique in their constitution. Even though all of us are created from the 3 doshas or the functional energy principles (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), each of us has a unique relative proportion of these these energies. Read more in this post about how to understand your unique constitution.
Definition of health from Ayurveda
Three, Ayurveda has an incredibly rich definition of health.
One who is established in self, who has balanced doshas, balanced agni, properly formed dhatus, proper elimination of malas, well functioning bodily processes and whose mind, soul and senses are vibrant is called a healthy person.~ Vagbhata [Source: Ashtangahridyam]
The definition is profound; both philosophical and functional in its understanding of an individual’s health. Some of these terms in Sanskrit may be unfamiliar but they are quite easy to understand; here is a quick summary,
- Doshas or the three energy principles (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) govern all our body functions.
- Agni is the digestive fire in our body.
- Dhatus are the gross tissues and organs in the body like blood, bones, muscles etc.
- Malas are the waste products like stool, urine and sweat.
What struck me immediately was that this definition of health goes far, far beyond a healthy physical body. It looks at each person through the lens of their ‘whole self’. Ayurveda says that our body, mind, senses, emotions and spirit all must be in balance with each other to be healthy. There is no doubt that this is a holistic approach to health and living.
These ideas are deeply intuitive and yet often overlooked in modern life when we think about our health day to day.
In the coming months, I want to start applying these principles to gain a better understanding of my body, mind and spirit. I seek to be more in tune with my ‘whole self’ and the natural environment around me. My hope is that by making meaningful shifts in my lifestyle and diet, I can become healthier not only in my body but in my whole self. I will share more details about these changes in the next few posts.
Before we dive further into these changes, I wanted to pause for a bit to share an important reason why I decided to write this blog. That’s in the next post. See you there!