Ayurvedic view of Health

The word Ayurveda means ‘the science of life’. The aim of this science is not only managing the vikara (diseases) but maintaining swasthya (good health) also. Swasthya means the state of absence of diseases. Virtuous health is much important factor to live the life fully with all its deeds.

What is health/ swasthya

The uninterrupted state of dosha (bodily humors- vata, pitta and kapha), dhatu (tissues), agni (digestive power) and mala (waste materials), as well as the wholesomeness of sense organs, mind and soul is considered as swasthya in Ayurveda.

The basic element in body is tridosha (3 bodily humors) viz vata, pitta and kapha. The balance of tridosha maintains good health which can be achieved by following right dietary habit and lifestyle. The level of tridosha naturally fluctuates with age, food intake, and different time during a day and night.

Agni is the transforming power in body. Unvitiated Agni enables proper digestion of food, formation of tissues from the essence of food. The equilibrium of dhatu and proper formation and voiding of mala (waste material) are also essential for good health. The toxins accumulated in body are eliminated via the mala. When the malakriya (production and expulsion) is interrupted, it will lead to several diseases.

Vata is responsible for all the movements in body, mostly located in the musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, joints, and associated structures) as well as nervous system (brain and spinal cord with related nerves). Vata helps in proper functioning of the sense organs, transport of food from mouth to anus, regulating motor activities etc. Pitta regulates body temperature, digestion, the synthesis and secretion of enzymes and hormones, etc; and kapha is responsible for nourishing the tissues and sense organs, lubrication, compactness etc.

Tools for maintaining swasthya

Swasthya is achieved by the maintenance of body, mind and soul in their stable state. For this, various tools are recommended- proper ahara (diet), nidra (sleep), and brahmacharya (accomplishment of responsibilities); dinacharya (daily regimens), rtucharya (seasonal regimens), managing the vega (natural urges), and following sadvrtta (good conducts).

  • Ahara, nidra, brahmacharya

Ahara– food is the primary tool for nourishing body and its maintenance. Healthy food is essential to build the bodily tissues, and proper functioning of various systems (eg: nervous system, endocrine system etc).

Nidra– the quality and quantity of sleep determines the functionality of body and mind.

Brahmacharya– fulfilling the duties bestows pure bliss. The one who follows brahmacharya (brahma= duties; charya= activities that should be followed/ fulfilled) will be devoid of guilt, low self-esteem, fear etc.

  • Dinacharya/ daily regimen in Ayurveda

There are certain activities that should be performed on a daily basis (dinacharya) for the maintenance of health. Dinacharya has been given prime importance in Ayurveda because it is aimed at holistic health. All the activities that should be practiced from waking up till bed-time are explained. Start a day in brahmamuhoorta (an auspicious time to get up in the morning), which is almost 45 minutes before sunrise. This will regulate the biological clock (pineal gland), serotonin- melatonin level, improves immunity by the production of oxy-haemoglobin, increases anti-oxidant level, reduces inflammation and regulate metabolism. Brushing of teeth should be done with appropriate drugs which can balance the dosha, improve oral health, etc. Much importance has been given to tongue scraping as it can improve the oral health, prevents infection, etc. Gargling, oil pulling, and abhyanga (oil massage) can prevent various vataroga (diseases due to aggravated vata- eg: facial palsy, arthritis). Abhyanga also prevents eye diseases, symptoms of aging (like greying of hair, wrinkling of skin), and alleviates lethargy. If whole body massage is not possible, apply oil over the scalp, ear lobes and feet. It ensures good sleep, and stimulate nerves.

Anjana is a special procedure of application of medicated kajal in eyes. Daily application of Anjana removes sedimentations in eyes, improves vision and stimulate nerves and blood vessels. Nasya (nasal instillation of medicine) clears out the channels in body parts above shoulder, especially brain. It stimulates the cranium, nerves; clears the sinuses; alleviate diseases of mouth, head, ears, and other vatavyadhi; or even mental distress. Dhoomapana (inhalation of medicated fumes) is designed for clearing the airway and prevent infections.

Udwarthana (massage with medicinal powder) provides fitness and endurance, alleviates kapha and medas (unwanted fat). It also imparts good colour and complexion. Bathing (snana) removes accumulated debris, opens-up the minute pores, stimulates the glands, alleviates fatigue, improves digestive power and immunity. Vyayama (exercise) is the best method to get rid of unwanted fat deposition (medas) and thereby reducing weight. It also improves digestion, and ability to perform activities.

  • Rtucharya/ seasonal regimen in Ayurveda

There are 6 seasons- hemanta, shishira (winter seasons), vasantha (spring), greeshma (summer), varsha (monsoon), sharat (autumn)- which are grouped as 2 (Uttarayana and Dakshinayana). Thridosha show fluctuations during various seasons and as a result people face many discomforts. If properly pacified or eliminated these vitiated dosha can produce diseases. In order to prevent this, seasonal purification therapies are designed. It helps in maintenance of health and improving immunity. Apart from this, a number of regimens called Rtucharya are discussed in Ayurveda that to be followed in each season to balance the tridosha, stabilise agni (digestive power) and boost immunity.

  • Concept of Vega/ natural urges and their importance in maintenance of health

   Vega are the natural urges. They may be physical or mental. Physical urges include sneezing, coughing, yawning, flatus, belching, hunger, thirst, sleep, vomiting etc and they are not supposed to be suppressed. By doing so, various diseases manifest in body such as skin diseases, digestive problems, cardiac disorders, emaciation etc. On the other hand, mental urges like anger, jealousy, etc are to be controlled for a healthy life.

  • Sadvrtta/ good conduct for good health

Sadvrtta can be classified as physical conducts, mental conducts, social conducts, ethical conducts and moral conducts. All the sadvrtta explained in Ayurveda are mentioned in a concise form as – avoid harming others, telling lie, desiring other’s belongings, jealousy, etc. following sadvrtta bestows mental health and thereby preventing psychosomatic diseases.

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