Ayurveda is a holistic healing science which comprises of two words, Ayu and Veda. Ayu means life and Vedameans knowledge or science. So the literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is the science of life. Ayurveda is a science dealing not only with treatment of some diseases but is a complete way of life.
three concepts are so essential that you need to know them in order to be able to really comprehend Ayurveda:
Gunas are qualities, dravya stands for the 5 elements and dosha represents movement.
What are Gunas in Ayurveda?
These are the qualities we can observe using our 5 senses: hearing (ears), touch (fingers), sight (eyes), taste (tongue) and smell (nose). This is about our first observations, without any interpretation being involved.
Observing qualities is essential to be able to make a diagnosis. This is done based on 10 qualities: weight, temperature, moisture, solidity, intensity, mobility, elasticity, clearness, texture and structure.
Dravyas or the elements in Ayurveda
Dravya stands for matter, that which is tangible. In this, it differs from the Gunas. Gunas are about perception and are never material. A Guna is experienced but cannot be touched.
Matter, or Dravya, is composed of 5 basic elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. These 5 elements can best be distinguished by their qualities. Ether has a 'light' quality, earth has a 'heavy' quality. Ether, air, water and earth are cold, whereas fire is hot.
What are Doshas in Ayurveda?
In Ayurveda Dosha stands for movement or activity. Three forms are distinguished: an actual movement, non-movement and a movement which brings about a change.
With an actual movement, something is moved within a space. The opposite of movement is standstill. We can observe standstill for instance in the mountains, which have been in the same place for centuries. Standstill also has a purpose in nature. The last form of movement, movement which brings about a change, is the movement of transformation. Examples are a child that grows into an adult, a plant that blooms in spring...
Kapha is standstill or non-movement
Pitta is the transforming movement
Vata is the moving or actual movement
Any disturbance to these doshas is the root cause in leading any disease.
These three movements steer life, they are the three pillars of our existence. For instance: the change of the seasons, the course of a day, your state of mind...
If we look at all these concepts in the context of nutrition, we can draw up a personal diet for your 'self'. Every person has his own constitution and nature.