Ayurveda is Sanskrit for "Science of Life".
Ayurveda translates to “the science of life” and its roots in India are over 5,000 years old. It is known as the “sister science of yoga” and is the oldest and most comprehensive system of natural medicine. This ancient science incorporates diet/nutrition, herbal care, yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises) and bodywork/detoxification therapies - but does so in a very practical and modern way.
According to Ayurveda, humans are a part of nature and we are all made up of elements that create health, when balanced and illness when out of balance. These elements are the five building blocks of existence, which are: Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Space. They manifest in each of us to give us our own unique physical and mental qualities. Each person has his or her own unique combination of these elements, which is known as their dosha (or constitution). The 3 doshas are known as Vata (Air & Space), Pitta (Fire & Water) and Kapha (Earth & Water).
Our doshas are dynamic energies that constantly change in response to our actions, thoughts, emotions, lifestyles, foods we eat and seasons. Ayurveda views the body and mind as being inseparable, so our dosha is more than just our body type – but our body/mind complex. Ayurveda focuses on providing specific guidance and the use of different therapies to maintain physical and emotional health.
When we align ourselves and move in harmony with nature and our own true natures (our doshas or constitutions) we are able to prevent disease and create balance within our bodies and our minds.
Noticing a pattern?
These doshas exist in everything. They exist in humans, plants and animals in physical form. They exist in the seasons and time of year. They even exist in a 24-hour cycle during course of a day. They exist in all aspects and cycles of nature.
The most dominant dosha often increases more quickly than the other doshas because we tend to perpetuate what we know best. In other words, we feed our imbalances. We do things that we know are not good for us. We go against that little voice in our head that tells us to 'go to bed' or 'stop eating, you're full'. Regardless of your balance, any of the three doshas can increase and when a dosha increases, an environment of ill health is opened up. Ayurveda aims to counterbalance those doshic qualities that are creating the imbalance to begin with.
Prakruti and Vikruti
Prakruti (pra-kru-ti) is your natural constitution. It is your natural state of balance. It is determined at the moment of our conception and relates to our genetically inherited physical and emotional qualities. Prakruti specifically relates to those qualities, characteristics and tendencies that are stable. For instance, while you may experience changes, like gaining or losing ten pounds, feeling nervous or irritable, developing a cold, etc., you will never gain or lose five inches in your height or experience a change of eye color.
Vikruti (Vi-kru-ti) are imbalances. Vikruti is translated as a “changed condition of body, mind and consciousness.” It is understood as a “state of imbalance”, most often used to describe your current state of ill-health. Vikruti is sometimes referred to as 'disturbance'. Vikruti causes illnesses and symptoms.
While Prakruti, your natural constitution, remains stable throughout life, Vikruti can fluctuate yearly, monthly, or even daily. These fluctuations are a constant, healthy part of life. It is not the changes, but our resistance or inability to make necessary adjustments to the changes, which causes illness. The Doshas apply to both your inherent constitution and your imbalances. This genetic makeup is very different for each person and affects the way we interact with nature and our environment.