Basic Principles of Ayurveda: The most holistic medical system

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Photo by: Amila Tennakoon

Ayurveda which literally means Knowledge of life is probably the oldest (originated 5000 years ago) and definitely the most holistic medical system in the world. This ageless science provides both curative and preventive measures towards physical, mental and spiritual well-being. 

More than being just a medical care, Ayurveda is a philosophy which helps one lead a long and healthy life. 

Over the years, Ayurveda which is considered to be a branch of the Atharva Veda has gained global popularity and has also been recognized by the World Health Organisation.

Kerala is the land of origin of Ayurveda and is perhaps the only place in India where this science still follows the traditional ways. Kerala's unparalleled wealth of herbs and natural vegetation and unique climatic proposition helps Kerala practitioners make their Ayurvedic formulations to superior effect. 

What makes Ayurveda in Kerala Unique?

Treatment is based on body constitution: Ayurveda recommendations will vary from person to person regarding which lifestyle and foods they should follow in order to be completely healthy. This is due to its use of a constitutional model.

Based on natural observation & direct examination: Everything in Ayurveda is validated by observation, inquiry, direct examination and knowledge derived from the ancient texts

The basis is energetic forces of the body: Ayurveda understands that there are 3 energetic forces that influence nature and human beings. These forces are balanced to attain perfect health.

Treatment is for both body and mind: Because Ayurveda sees a strong connection between the mind and the body, you will find yoga & meditation is an integral part of ayurveda therapy.


The basic principles of Ayurveda

Basically, Ayurveda considers all living and non-living things in the universe as a combination of 5 elements called the Pancha Bhootas (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space). These elements are present in the bodies of everything in different proportions but it is the spirit or soul that separates the living from the non-living. This spirit manifests in the human body as 3 subtle energies and it is the balance of these 3 energies that keeps the body healthy and in full vitality. It is the imbalance of these 3 energies due to internal and external causes that causes diseases. Ayurvedic treatment is aimed at regaining the balance and thereby rejuvenating the body and achieving the trinity of life- harmony of the body, mind and soul.

Ayurveda does not treat a disease; it treats the body as a whole to restore proper functioning.

Ayurvedic systems function on the relationship of the body with the natural environment and the cosmos. Naturally, Ayurveda does not treat a disease; it treats the body as a whole to restore proper functioning. So the first step of treatment in Ayurveda is determining the constitution of the person being treated. Treatment systems may be both internal and external.


What are the 3 energies or 3 doshas?

As per ayurveda, all body processes are governed by a balance of the three doshas called Vata (resembles air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water). The extent of each of these energies varies according to the individual thereby creating his/her body constitution. The dosha which is dominant will have significant influences on the person’s behaviour and physique.

The three doshas


Composed of air, this energy governs the movement of the body and activates the nervous system, creativity, hearing and speech. Vata need to be controlled to deal with worries, cramps, constipation and insomnia.


This energy governs heat, metabolism and mind judgement. Pitta needs to be controlled to deal with anger, ulcers & thinning hair. A balanced pitta mind makes one think clearer and a warmer personality.


This energy strengthens the bodies physical structure making good body resistance, vigour and stability. Kapha also governs emotions like attachment & envy so balancing this leads to calmness & love. Kapha also needs to controlled to deal with weight gain.

With this basic understanding you will be able to appreciate the treatment modalities, diet control and discipline that is required to achieve best results from ayurveda. There is a lot more to learn and know before you commit to an ayurveda holiday in Kerala. Do read our other articles and personal experiences on ayurveda.

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