Ayurvedic foot massages use herbal oils with their own individual therapeutic benefits to effectively combine into the movement of energy in the massages.
Ayurveda originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is the oldest continuously practiced health-care system in the world. Drawn from an understanding of nature’s rhythms and laws, Ayurveda is built around the five elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth.
It is understood in Ayurveda that humans, as natural beings, are governed by the same rules and laws as all other natural beings. If we choose to ignore these laws, then imbalances will begin to appear. These imbalances are the precursor to disharmony and disease in the mind and body. This system of medicine understands our deepest connections with the whole universe and the influences of the energies that make up this universe. We are considered a microcosm of the macrocosm.
An Ayurvedic approach treats each individual, taking into account his/her own unique psychological, emotional, and physical conditions. Imbalances in the body are evaluated through the system of the elements. Because our world and bodies are constantly adjusting to new environments, when these environments become imbalanced we feel it in some way.
The goal of Ayurveda is to teach people how to attain optimal health through a deeper understanding of themselves and their own particular nature in relationship to the world around them. It is a system based on natural healing through strengthening the body, mind, and spirit and allowing the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to work to their fullest potential.
Vata, Pitta and Kapha
Ayurveda defines physiology in terms of three forces called doshas. The three doshas are vata, pitta and kapha. Vata governs the physiology of motion in the body. Pitta governs the physiology of metabolism. Kapha governs the physiology of structure.
Each person has all three of these doshas with them. The balance of these three doshas at the moment of conception defines what Ayurveda calls one's constitution or "prakruti". These doshas also fluctuate in accordance with how we live our lives and as they increase or decrease they cause different conditions in the body and mind. This is called "vikruti". The goal of Ayurveda is to restore the proper balance of these physiological forces . This is accomplished by utilizing one's senses properly and living a healthy lifestyle.
Ayurveda is one of the most advanced herbal sciences in the world. Herbal medicine plays an important role in Ayurveda. Other tools often used by the Ayurvedic Practitioner include: Yoga, Meditation, Purification Programs (Panchakarma) and Lifestyle Counseling.
Functions of Tridosha
The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They represent our genetic blueprint and fashion how we respond, both psychologically and physically to our environment. The constitutional type, Vata is a combination of Air and Ether. Pitta is the combination of Fire and Water; Kapha - Water and Earth. These elements are the foundation of all life.
An understanding of tridosha system helps us know a person's constitutional predisposition, assisting the herbalist in creating a therapeutic herbal program that integrates all aspects of that individual's life. The principles and qualities that follow are what an herbalists looks for in determining an individual's constitution.
Vata: governs all movement, respiration and the nervous system. Its qualities are described as being dry, cold, light, mobile, subtle, rough, hard, erratic, dispersing and clear.
In a deranged condition it will cause coldness, dryness, tremors, abdominal distention, constipation, weakness, insomnia and numerous other neurological complaints, and lack of stamina.
Herbs that reduce excess Vata are nutritive tonics, demulcent with a pleasant sweet, salty and sour taste and warming qualities. Herbs that aggravate Vata are bitter, astringent and pungent.
Pitta: governs all transforming processes, metabolism, all chemical reactions, digestion and circulation. Its qualities are described as hot, sharp, fluid, light, oily, soft, and mobile.
In a deranged condition it will cause a jaundiced appearance or a yellowish tone to the skin, eyes, urine and feces. This may be accompanied by increased hunger and dryness, burning symptom and inflammations.
Herbs that reduce excess Pitta are drying and cooling, with bitter, astringent and sweet flavors. Herbs that aggravate Pitta have a warm moist nature with pungent, sour or salty tastes.
Kapha: governs all cohesion, liquidation, growth, body stability and strength. Its attributes are cold, wet, heavy, slow, dull, smooth, and cloudy.
In a deranged condition it will cause a diminution of digestive function, excessive phlegm and mucus, heaviness of the body, coldness, and a great desire for sleep.
Herbs that reduce excess Kapha are drying, warm and eliminative with pungent, bitter and astringent tastes. Herbs that aggravate Kapha are sweet, salty and sour.
One of the unique aspects of Ayurveda Herbalism is that once you know the dosha-constitution of an individual you then know which herbs to prescribe. For instance, herbs are classified according to which dosha they increase and decrease.
Everything in the universe is composed of the five elements. These combine into the three doshas or bio-energetic forces that govern our health and determine our physical constitution.
Tridosha in the body
Vata is predominant in Old age, Pitta in the Middle age and Kapha in Childhood. According to the season, Kapha is predominant early morning, Pitta in the afternoon and Vata late at night. For good health, each person has to maintain the balance of their doshas and not aggravate it and an imbalance in them is the cause of illness. It is thus essential to identify one's body type and follow dietary regimes according to the seasonal regimes to maintain optimum health. Ayurvedic treatment helps to restore this imbalance without any side effects. This helps in several conditions including liver disorders, strokes, mental and muscular dystrophy, rheumatic and chronic conditions.
Ayurveda helps individuals to know what types of food, colors, aromas, sounds and touch will create a state of balance and harmony in the body and mind. When the body and mind are in harmony, normal physiology is restored and healing takes place.
Ayurvedic medicine & preparation
The Ayurvedic medicine/drugs are derived from Herbal sources from the various parts of the plant like root, leaf, flower, fruit extrude or plant as a whole also minerals and metals.
Ayurvedic medicines are available in the form of powder, tablets, pills, liquid and semi-solid.
Ayurvedic compound formulations are mainly divided into two groups viz. (1) Kasthausadhi (predominantly plant drugs) and (2). Rasausadhi (predominantly metals and minerals).
Different Herbs have different healing powers. Here are a few examples:
Aloe Vera, Sandalwood, Turmeric, Shatavari- Antiseptic (Protects against infections)
Turmeric, Echinacea- Antibiotic (Fights against viral and bacterial infections).
Cinnamon, Yarrow, Jasmine, Sandalwood- Astringent (heals tissues)
Cardamom, Coriander- Appetizer (Induces appetite)
Chamomile, Chrysanthemum, Basil, Ginger- Carminative (Helps in proper digestion)
Preparing the Herbs
There are mainly five types of preparations in Ayurveda, collectively known as Pancha Kashaya Kalpa.
Svarasa - The juice of the plant, which is the strongest of all, is extracted by pounding or grinding it in a blender.
Kalka - The herbs are crushed and made into a pulp form in the required consistency by adding sufficient water.
Kvatha - It is prepared by boiling the herbs in water until the preparation is reduced to one-fourth of the original amount.
Phant - Hot infusion is obtained by immersing the herbs in hot water for sometime.
Hima - The herbs are soaked in cold water overnight for preparing a cold infusion.The herbs are prepared in other forms as well such as Churna (Powders), Guti (Pills) and Vati (Tablets).
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