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Ayurveda - What is it?

Ayurveda - a name that is attached to the charm of the unknown and exotic. Anyone who is interested in health, has heard the word at least once before, but what exactly is hidden behind it? A first approximation provides the translation of the term. The word "Ayurveda" is derived from Sanskrit, the ancient language of India and consists of the words "Ayus" which means "life" and "Veda" which means "knowledge / wisdom" together. Ayurveda is therefore nothing less than the "knowledge of life".

The foundation of this knowledge is the knowledge of the wholeness of life. According to Ayurvedic conception, the body can not be considered in isolation from the soul and the person is not isolated from its environment. There are countless interactions and complex relationships. Ayurvedic diagnosis and therapies take regard of all areas of human life such as emotions, mind, body, behavior, living environment, social life and the influence of the times and seasons in their interplay.

The applications in Ayurveda are manifold. They are based on a sound nutrition, tailored to the individual, constitution of the individual, herbal medicine with more than 3,000 different plants and herbs, includes various purification techniques (eg Panchakarma), oil massages and many more beneficial applications - the whole combined with a spiritual yoga and meditation practice,

To produce well-being and prevent illness - this is always the main concern But in the context of an authentic original Ayurvedakur diseases, especially chronic diseases such as rheumatism or hypertension, can also be cured or alleviated - Ayurveda is an all-rounder!

Millennia-old art of healing

The roots of Ayurveda date back to the time of the Vedic civilization of ancient India more than 5,000 years ago.  There are few historical records about the Vedic period of Far Eastern medicine. The starting point of the few written texts during this period  is the meditative review of the Rishis, the wise men, who passed on their knowledge verbally.

Only in the centuries around the birth of Christ, in the so-called Upanishadic period, respectfully called the "Golden Age" of Ayurveda, what we call Ayurveda today was developed. During this period the most important classical texts originated, the Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita which still form the basis of Ayurveda.

With the spread of Buddhism (from about the 6th century v. Chr.) Ayurveda experienced a big boom and many Ayurvedic universities and hospitals emerged. During the 200-year colonial rule of England, from the mid 18th century, the Ayurvedic teachings were defamed as backward and completely suppressed. All Ayurvedic universities were closed. Only in the twenties of the 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi revived Ayurvedic colleges again. After India's independence in 1947 Ayurveda was finally awarded the status of an official medical system.

The pillars of Ayurveda

Doshas - bioenergetic principles

The key to understanding Ayurveda is the doctrine of the three doshas. According to this, three basic energetic forces act in the human body . These control all physical and mental functions of a human being and are named Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

The various functions of the three doshas arise out of their characteristic properties, which can be derived from the five basic elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth. Pairwise connected elements form the three doshas.

VATA consists of the elements air and ether, and is considered the vital energy per se.

Characteristics: light weight, agile, fast, subtle, cold, dry, rough

Functions: controls all voluntary and autonomic movements, influencing the muscles, regulation of the internal organs, circulation, respiration and all excretion processes, affects mental capacity, clarity and alertness

PITTA is associated with the elements of water and fire and is considered the metabolic principle.

Characteristics: hot, light, flowing, liquid, pungent, penetrating, slightly oily

Functions: regulation of body heat, digestion and metabolism, blood formation, skin and vision, intellect and emotional expression

KAPHA is formed from the elements of earth and water. From this dosha depends our resilience to disease.

Characteristics: hard, cold, soft, sweet, stable, slow, oily, smooth, solid, sluggish

Functions: responsible for body structures and fluid balance, regulating psychological stability and balance and memory functions

Who am I? - Ayurvedic constitutional types

Everyone has all three doshas in themselves. One, two or all three doshas can be predominate. The dominant doshas characterize with their properties, the physical and mental characteristics of a human being. Accordingly one assumes in Ayurveda various types or constitutions. A total of seven constitutional types can be distinguished: Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Vata-Kapha and Vata-Pitta-Kapha.

The constitution describes strengths and weaknesses, allows statements about the morbidity and explains different reactions to food, sensations, climate or living conditions. In the treatment and prevention of diseases, therefore, the determination of the constitutional type plays an important role.

Main characteristics of the Vata type:

Light body and light weight, tendency to dry skin, aversion to cold and windy weather, irregular hunger and irregular digestion, tendency to constipation, enthusiasm, fast action, quick wit and good short-term memory, tendency to worry and to sleeping problems

Main characteristics of the Pitta type:

Medium weight body, normal skin, aversion to heat, strong hunger and good digestion, preferably cold food and cold drinks, does not like to miss meals, tendency to red hair, freckles and birthmarks, works systematically and organizes, average perception and memory, a good speaker and sharp intellect, enterprising and courageous character, prone to impatience, easily excitable

Main characteristics of the Kapha type:

Sturdy and heavy build, tendency to smooth and oily skin, small appetite and slow digestion, strong rather dark hair, strength and endurance, tackles things methodically and slowly, calm and balanced personality, slow learner, good long-term memory, deep and long sleep, difficult to ruffle.

The characteristics and properties of the various constitutional types listed are obviously only a selection. A comprehensive analysis of your constitution can only be made by an experienced Ayurvedic physician.

Health and illness in Ayurveda

In Ayurvedic teachings, the dynamic balance of the doshas is the essential prerequisite for health. If Vata, Pitta and Kapha are fully functional and their interaction works smoothly, there is balance in the body: The person is healthy. Are one or more doshas off balance, this initially leads to disorders and in the longer term to diseases.

But how can doshas fall into an imbalance? In the Ayurvedic conception our body is closely linked to its environment and we are constantly exposed to influences that alter the balance of the doshas. All changes in our environment such as times and seasons, food and weather, work and sleep, stress and all actions have an impact on our well-being and can bring the doshas are out of balance.

The goal of any ayurvedic treatment is to restore the balance of the doshas and to recognize disorders as early as possible, ie to detect and treat the disease before it develops. Initially even minor changes in diet or individual Ayurveda treatment as oil massages can be enough to get back to the original balance. However when the problem is in an advanced state then an original Aryuveda treatment focusing on Panchakarma proves to be very effective.

Diagnosis

First, an extensive investigation is carried out by an Ayurvedic physician, in which various methods such as the pulse diagnosis are used. The Ayurvedic doctor can determine with the pulse exactly in what state your doshas are and where there is an imbalance. He will also use the conversation with you as well as the assessment of your physical characteristics such as skin, hair, nails and eyes to determine your constitutional type and create an individual, precisely tailored treatment plan for you on this basis. It is his task to select the right therapy for you from the wide range of possible applications of Panchakarma therapy and to monitor your therapy during treatment and constantly adjust it appropriately.

Treatments

The Panchakarma therapy is divided into three main phases:

• Purvakarma – preparatory actions
• Panchakarma – the five main treatments
• Paschatkarma – aftertreatment

Purvakarma - Preparatory actions

In the first, preparatory phase the doshas and the associated metabolic waste (Ama) are activated in the tissue. This is done first using Ayurvedic healing plants and spices (Agni Diepana- Pachana). In addition, oily substances are used, which are administered internally and externally. For internal use you take in the morning purified and partially with medicine prepared butter, so called ghee. The ghee penetrates into the cells where it triggers the disturbed doshas. In the external application you are massaged with soothing oils. Through oilmassage embedded toxins are excreted in the tissue. Among the major massages are the full body synchronized massage (Abhyanga), the whole body peeling massage with a mixture of barley and chickpea flour (Udvartana) and dry full body synchronous massage with silk gloves (Garshana). In addition to these forms of massage one of the preparatory actions is also a number of oil applications such as the Shirodhara forehead oil cast (Snehana). At the end of the first phase toxins dissolved by the oil applications are flushed from the tissues and transported in the gastrointestinal area with the aid of highly strenuous activities such as herbal steam treatments (Swedana).

Panchakarma – the five Cleanings

With the assistance of the effective cleaning techniques of Panchakarma excess toxins are then all released from the tissue cells and discharged. For this purpose, five different methods can be used:

1. Vamana - therapeutic vomiting
2. Virechana - laxative therapy
3. Vasti - Enema
4. Nasya - Nose and sinus treatment
5. Raktamokshana - blood purification therapy

It has to be said that elements such as the therapeutic vomiting or blood purification therapy are more rarely or never used, particularly with Western patients. The purification is done in most cases with laxative therapy (Virechana) or performed as an enema (Vasti).

Paschatkarma – aftertreatment

The effect of a Panchakarma therapy unfolds itself mainly in the phase of regeneration afterwards. With the Paschatkarma treatments body and mind are strengthened after the intensive treatment with certain plants recipes, light oil massages and a build-up diet aligned to the type of constitution. Also Rasayana, soothing Ayurvedic rejuvenation  treatments, and yoga and meditation play an important role in the aftertreatment.

Nutrition

The diet plays a very important role in balancing the doshas in a Panchakarma therapy. In Ayurveda digestion (Agni) is of important therapeutic significance. It is understood as the "living flame", which turns the food into the body's own energy and structural components. "Agni" is even more important than the type of food to be digested. This should be balanced and mainly correspond to the individual constitution type. Balanced in Ayurvedic sense means all tastes included (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter or astringent). Your therapist will create as part of an original Ayurveda treatment a nutrition plan specially aligned to your constitutional type.

WHAT WE OFFER

We are currently discussing plans and possibilities with various Ayurveda doctors but also with other Ayurveda centers.

Our goal is to be able to offer the following:

- An intense examination by an Ayurvedic physician, in which he uses various methods such as the pulse diagnosis

- through conversation and by the assessment of your physical characteristics such as skin, hair, nails and eyes determine your constitutional type

- Creating a tailoured treatment plan to suit your necessities within our possibilities

- work out  diet recommendations specifically geared to your constitutional  type

Ayurvedic massages are also offered separately.

But we are also happy to help our guests and provide them with a complete Ayurveda treatment in one of the numerous centers in Sri Lanka and to combine it with a stay with us.

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