Find an Ayurvedic Practitioner in Seattle
Ayurveda is an ancient medical system from the Indian subcontinent. The Sanskrit word Ayurveda translates to "Life Knowledge" or the "Science of Life". Ayurveda arose during the Vedic period between 1500 and 500 BC and is written in sacred texts known as the Vedas
. Ayurvedic practitioners use plant, animal, and mineral based mixtures to improve health and treat diseases. They may also use Ayurvedic massage and cleansing rituals to relieve the body of toxins. Ayurveda takes into account the appropriate functioning of the mind, body, senses, and soul.
Ayurvedic practitioners consider disease to be a manifestation of an imbalance in the doshas
or inborn constitution of the patient as related to the four elements. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each has its own description in terms of physical body, mental tendencies, and typical disease manifestations. Ether and air combine to form the Vata dosha. Vata governs the principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force, which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination. Fire and water are the elements that combine to form the Pitta dosha. Pitta dosha is the process of transformation or metabolism. The transformation of foods into nutrients that our bodies can assimilate is an example of a Pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism. The water and earth elements combine to form the Kapha dosha. Kapha is what is responsible for growth, adding structure to the body unit by unit. Ayurvedic philosophy states that we are all made up of unique proportions of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The various ratios of the doshas vary in each individual; consequently Ayurveda views each person as a special combination of doshas that accounts for our diversity. Various genetic, environmental, and karmic factors are said to influence the balance between the doshas. The balancing of the doshas with appropriate food, exercise, living in balance with nature, and medicines are the predominant method of treatment.
Ayurvedic practitioners consider the effects of toxins or ama
and their effects on physical and energetic channels in the body. Ama originates from improperly digested food particles that clog the channels in your body. Some of these channels are physical and include the intestines, lymphatic system, arteries and veins, capillaries and genitourinary tract. Non-physical channels that conduct energy through the body are called nadis
. Energy centers in the body known as chakras
are evaluated and brought into balance. Ama toxicity accumulates wherever there is a weakness in the body resulting in disease. Ayurvedic practitioners seek to reduce ama through dietary changes and dosha balancing treatments.
Many Ayurvedic practitioners make use of Panchakarma
(five actions) treatments to balance the doshas and remove ama from the body, mind and soul. Some components of Panchakarma include the practices of Abhyanga
(a two-person synchronized oil massage), Swedana
(individual herbal sweat therapy), Shirodhara
(pouring of warm oil to the forehead), and Udhulana
(herbalized dusting of the body). Ayurvedic practitioners may also prescribe yoga asanas
and a type of breathing exercise known as Pranayama
. Collectively, treatments seek to provide a rebalancing of the person's constitutional dosha and clear ama from the body for the long term.
Author: Christopher Holder, ND Candidate '07