The word Ayurveda is derived from 2 words- ayur (life) and veda (science / knowledge). The basic principle of Ayurveda is the balance of 3 doshas- Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Changes in climate, diet and life style can disturb the balance of the three doshas, which in turn may lead to an unhealthy body and mind. Since we cannot change climate, to keep a balance of all three doshas, we can adopt a healthy life style and a good balanced diet. Though we may not be able to follow everything according to what is prescribed in Ayurveda books, we can adapt certain changes in the ingredients used, method of cooking, medium of cooking, eating certain dishes, avoiding certain dishes etc. to attain a more healthy body and mind. This is what we are striving to achieve through the Ayurvedic part in this site.
Ayurveda's goal is to set an exemplary life through Sathya (truth), Dharma(duty), Shanti(peace), Prema(love) and Ahimsa(non violence). Ayurveda is not just a treatment, but a style of life, which is healthy
Nature is made up of 5 elements or panch mahabhutas. They are Prithvi: Earth, Jala: Water,Vayu: Air, Agni: Fire and Akasha: Ether or vaccum. It must be noted that though the English translation of these words are related to certain objects of common knowledge and experience like say fire, in actual this does not mean that Agni represents actual fire. But it only means that it is related to heat energy. Even a puja thali represents all these 5 elements--Jala in the form of Holy water is present in the thali (pooja plate). Fire is present in the form of the lamp. Air is the smoke that comes from the incense stick that is burned. Chandan or sandalwood paste is placed in the puja thali as representing earth and sound (ringing of bell) is also present to symbolize akasha or Ether.
According to Ayurveda, these 5 elements are present in our body in the form of 3 entities known as Doshas. These doshas are Vata (ether and air), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha(water and earth). We need all three doshas in our body for proper functioning.
The proportion of Doshas in our body is influenced by the following factors:-
|Age||Part of the day||Weather|
|0 -16 years--kapha||Early morning--kapha||Cold and dry winter-vata|
|16-45 years-Pitta||Mid afternoon--Pitta||Hot and humid summer- Pitta|
|Above 45 years--vata||Late evening--Vata||Spring--kapha|
In Ayurveda, there are six tastes or Rasas: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Ayurveda recommends including each of the tastes in every meal. These tastes play an important role in maintaining the equilibrium of the tridoshas (vata, pitta, kapha). Traditional Kerala festival lunch-Sadya, is a perfect example of the six tastes.move to top
The sweet taste comprises of water and earth, and is good for balancing vata and pitta. Of the six tastes, sweet is known to be the most nourishing. When eaten in moderation, it gives long life, strength, and healthy bodily fluids and tissues. If you are trying to gain weight, sweet is the taste to emphasize. It's heavy, oily, and moist. But at the same time it slows down digestion.
The sweet taste is prominent in foods such as wheat, rice, milk, cereals, dates, pumpkins, ghee, jaggery/ palm sugar, sugar, carrot, almost all fruits except citrus fruits, asparagus etc.move to top
The sour taste consists of water and fire. It stimulates appetite and saliva production, and is balancing in its light, heating, and oily properties. The sour taste awakens the thoughts and emotions, and can improve appetite, digestion, and elimination. It needs to be eaten in moderation because if you eat it in excess, it can quickly lead to aggression in the body
Some sour foods are lemon, vinegar, pickled and fermented foods, tamarind, Garcinia indica and buttermilk and yoghurtmove to top
The salty taste consists of earth and fire. It's best for Vata because of its grounding and hydrating nature. Its heat may aggravate Pitta and Kapha. It also adds taste to foods, stimulates digestion, helps electrolyte balance, cleanses tissues and increases absorption of minerals. However, too much salt can have a negative impact on blood and skin.
Examples of salty foods are, sea salt, black olives in brine, Himalayan salt, rock salt, and processed foods etc. Processed foods are not a recommended source of salt.move to top
Fire and air make up the pungent taste. Pungent food is the hottest of all the rasas, and therefore stimulates digestion, improves appetite, clears sinuses, stimulates blood circulation, and heightens the senses. Pungent food may help you think quickly and clearly, and understand complicated matters more easily. Too much pungent food, however, can make you overly critical. Pungent foods will aggravate Pitta quickly and balance Kapha. Vata handles pungent tastes best when they are combined with sour, sweet, or salty foods.
Pungent food are hot peppers/ chillies, ginger, onion, shallot, garlic, mustard, and asafoetida.move to top
Bitter taste consists of air and space. It's considered the coolest and lightest of all the tastes. Because of its cool qualities, it detoxifies, thus removing waste/toxins from the body. Bitter foods also help mental purification by freeing you from passions and emotions. It's best for Pitta, good for Kapha, and least beneficial for Vata.
Some of the bitter foods are turmeric, bitter gourd, pok choy, Indian gooseberry etc.move to top
The astringent taste is made up of air and earth. Most of the beans,legumes, cumin, fenugreek, unripe banana, drumstick etc. are astringent and can be slightly constipative. So these should eaten in moderation. Pitta benefits most from astringent taste's coolness, and its dry, light attributes balance Kapha. Like bitter food, astringent food will help in strengthening the mind.
|Doshas||Recommended tastes||Tastes to be reduced in diet|
|Vata||Sweet / Sour / Salty||Bitter / Spicy(pungent) / Astringent|
|Pitta||Sweet / Bitter / Astringent||Sour / Salty / Spicy(pungent)|
|Kapha||Bitter / Spicy(pungent) / Astringent||Sweet / Sour / Salty|
We all brush our teeth daily. Most of the toothpaste is sweet in taste and we all like it. Do you think those toothpastes are safe? And do you know how to brush your teeth properly.
Below is the Ayurveda way of brushing teeth:- Classical texts say that we should brush our teeth both before and after food using twigs which have the thickness of our small finger and the length of the twig should be 12 times the circumference of our index finger and also without any protuberance. The twigs of Neem tree(Azadirachta indica ), Banyan (Ficus benghalensis), Karanja Pongamia pinnata, Kadhira (Acacia catechu), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) Or Arkka (Calotropis gigantean) . Chew the tip of the twig to give a bristle shape. Then use for brushing. This herbal brush has anti bacterial and anti microbial property.
According to ayurveda, taste of these twigs are bitter, astringent and spicy. These tastes are good for alleviating "kapham" and "amam". Ayurveda also mentions about a special tooth powder . Thriphala ( three fruits) choornam and thrikadu (three pungents) choornam to be mixed together and added with honey, to make a fine paste and used as tooth paste. When using twig, brush with twig and massage the gums with this paste. When using toothbrush, this may be appied on tooth brush and can also be used to massage gums. This definitely will strengthen our teeth and gum. This powder will also improve the taste sensation. Tooth should not be brushed either with too much strength or with too little strength.move to top
In ayurveda steaming is called as swedanam(Sanskrit word). Any procedure that helps to sweat is called swedanam. Generally there are 2 types- Drava sweda(wet heat) and ushma/ruksha sweda(dry heat). Usually after oleation therapy, we should do swedanam. Ruksha sweda is generally preferred in certain disease conditions. Drava sweda is, general steaming with hot fluids. Ruksha/ushma sweda is applying dry heat like using heating pad, hot water bag, sun bath etc.
Some examples of steaming are :-