Ayurveda is a subject that is covered on most massage exams; especially since the NCETMB exam includes oriental concepts and modalities. That’s why Massage Prep includes an intensive and interactive study guide that provides you with an introduction to Ayurveda. To see how in-depth and easy-to-understand our study guides are, here is a glimpse of the information and material covered in the study guide provided by Massage Prep. There will be two parts of this introduction to Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is an ancient Hindu system of healthcare that can be traced as far back as 3000 BC. Its therapeutic measures relate to physical, mental, social, and spiritual harmony. The term Ayurveda derives from two words: “āyus” meaning life and veda meaning “knowledge”. Ayurveda stands for the “knowledge of life” and the intent is to harmonize the body with nature.
There are eight branches of Ayurveda:
1. Internal medicine- Kayachikitsa
2. Pediatrics- Kaumarabhritya
3. Psychology/Psychiatry- Bhuta Vidya
4. Ears, eyes, nose, and throat- Shalakya Tantra
5. Surgery- Shalya Tantra
6. Toxicology- Agada Tantra
7. Rejuvenation- Rasayana tantra
8. Fertility therapy- Vajikarana tantra
Most of this article will focus on a brief introduction of Ayurveda and the balance of three elemental substances (“doṣas” or doshas). Ayurvedic theory asserts that each human possesses a natural, unique combination of doṣas that define that person’s temperament and characteristics. Health exists when there is a balance between the three doshas.
The three fundamental bodily doshas called are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They are created from the five elements and cosmic rhythms of nature, as seen in the image to the right. Your individual metabolic or body type is determined by the conditions of your dosha at the time of birth. No type is better or worse than the others. All have their strengths and weaknesses.
- “Vāta” or Vata (Wind/Air) is the impulse principle necessary to mobilize the function of the nervous system. It affects the windy nature, flatulence, gout, rheumatism, etc. A person of a Vata dominance normally has the weakest body build, but the greatest capacity for change and adaptation to protect it.
- Pitta (Fire) is the energy principle which uses bile to direct digestion and hence metabolism. Its chief quality is heat. Individuals who are primarily Pitta have moderate physical strength and greater emotional and mental forces.
- Kapha (Water) is the body fluid principle which relates to mucus, lubrication, and the carrier of nutrients. Persons with a Kapha dominance has the strongest body build, but can lack motivation and adaptation to use it properly.
Keys to Balance Your Dosha(s)
Again, each human has a natural, unique combination of doshas. To achieve ultimate balance and health, one should seek balance by structuring their behavior or environment to provide more of the element(s) they lack. To find out your balance of doshas, view our interactive study guide for Ayurveda. It includes charts with characteristics that will help you determine which dosha you are naturally dominant and where you can bring balance and unity.
If you are primarily Vata, it’s important to implement regularity in your lifestyle habits. Keep your energy firm and consistent. Moderate and sustain your enthusiasm throughout the day to keep the body calm, centered and relaxed. You should practice breathing exercises every day at the same time. Keep the breath calm and strong, emphasizing inhalation. The whole purpose is to keep the mind calm and concentrated, grounded in the present moment.
If you are dominantly Pitta, cool down the fire and keep your energy cool, open, and receptive. You want moderation in all things, including your food and activity. When you practice your breathing keep the breath cold, relaxed, and diffused; exhale through the mouth to relieve heat as needed. Keep your mind receptive, detached, and aware.
Finally, if you are mainly Kapha, make sure to warm up properly and then do the asana with effort, speed, and determination. Your primary purpose is to increase stimulation and invigoration. Keep the body light and moving, warm and dry. Exercise to invigorate the breath and maintain energy. Keep your mind enthusiastic, wakeful, and focused like a flame
All Ayurvedic physicians believe that these ancient ideas exist in harmony with physical reality. These Ayurvedic concepts allow physicians to examine the homeostasis of the whole system. With a career as spiritual and healing as massage therapy, it’s understandable why a firm understanding of Ayurveda is necessary. If you can’t wait for Part Two or you’re ready to dive into the study guide, visit MassagePrep.com.