The word Ayurveda in Sanskrit means ‘the science of life
(Ayus = life, Veda = science or knowledge).
Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine which originated in India approximately 5,000 years ago. Its aim is to bring back an individual’s system to its natural balance and concentrates on the relation between body, mind and spirit. It places emphasis on preventing and treating illnesses and helps to maintain health by means of balanced diet, behaviour and the use of appropriate therapies depending on the personality of each individual.
In Ayurveda, the energies of the body (in Sanskrit: Dosas) take three forms – kinetic energy (Vata), metabolic (Pitta) and homeostatic (Kapha).
The energies of the mind (in Sanskrit: Gunas) also take three forms – Sattva (light, clarity, serenity), Rajas (egotism) and Tamas (ignorance, inertia).
Every individual has their own specific type of energy – a unique combination of physical and mental characteristics – which is known as their constitution.
The way in which these energies are balanced in a person’s natural constitution is described as their ‘Prakruti’ and this indicates good health. Imbalanced energies are known as a person’s ‘Vikruti’ and can indicate a predisposition to illness.
The objective of Ayurveda is to maintain and strengthen Prakruti and re-balance Vikruti.
The ancient science of Yoga, as with Ayurveda, has its roots in Indian tradition and concentrates on harmony between body and mind. The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit ‘yuj’ which means ‘join, unify, connect’ and is found in the ancient texts of pre-vedic and vedic times.
In the text ‘Yoga sutras’ (observations about Yoga), Patanjali gives a more systematic approach to Yoga, describing eight stages which are as follows: yama, niyama (observance of rules of behaviour), asana (physical exercises), pranayama (controlled breathing), pratyahara (self-control), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), samadhi (enlightenment).
Scientific research now proves that the practice of Yoga and meditation can be beneficial in treating stress and improving physical and mental health.
In conclusion, the science of Ayurveda helps us to be healthy, the practice of Yoga to have physical and mental health, and meditation to be focused and to live in a more meaningful balance with ourselves and with others.