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Ayurveda is an ancient health practice dating back to 1500 BC, and possesses one of the oldest known texts relating to medicinal practices. As western society seeks to find cures for diseases and unexplainable illnesses, more and more people are turning to eastern philosophies for cures that western medicine cannot provide. Ayurveda is becoming increasingly popular because of this.

Rather than treating a particular ailment based on its symptoms alone, Ayurveda seeks to treat the whole individual. This is done through diet, exercise, hygiene, sex, and spiritual practices.

The spiritual aspect is based on the idea that consciousness stems from God, as well as our energy. If we do not keep these spiritual aspects of ourselves in balance, we lose our closeness to God and lose sight of ourselves. Once unhealthy spiritually, we tend to enter a downward spiral of physical and mental health troubles. Yoga, meditation, or other spiritual exercises can help us keep these parts of ourselves in balance, and in turn, it helps us to maintain good health.

Prana is also a fundamental part of understanding Ayurveda. Prana is essentially the source of the five elements of life (earth, air, fire, water, and spirit) and is responsible for the manifestation of all things. If one were to be taken away, then the others could not exist. There could be no life, and no harmony. It is the source of our physical bodies, and the universe.

In our busy lives, we have a tendency not to think about the foods we eat, and how we take care of our bodies, and so these pranas, or humors, can be thrown out of balance. The key to getting better is to examine our constitution. There are the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha types. Vata types have a tendency to be thin with dry hair and skin. Pitta, are the people of average build and usually the most healthy. Kapha are typically overweight. These guidelines are not set in stone, and need careful examination to properly determine constitution.

Food can have various effects on the three humors. Each can cause an increase or decrease in one of the pranic elements and abuse of certain foods can throw us so far off that we become ill. It is important to discover our constitution so that we know what foods to eat or avoid. Not only is what we eat important, but how we eat it, when, and with whom is also fundamental.

Pita does better having a large breakfast, Kapha a light dinner, and Vitta just needs to eat regularly. Make sure your foods are prepared well, or elements can be lost. Make sure the places in which you eat are aesthetically pleasing to you. If you are uncomfortable in your surroundings, the digestion process will become upset. However, nothing is more upsetting to the digestion process as being uncomfortable with the person you are eating with. If you must have a meal with someone you are not happy with, like the in-laws at Christmas dinner, you might do better to eat a light and small meal, and grab a bite to eat later. If the above guidelines are not followed, indigestion, ulcers, heartburn, nausea, and many more problems can result.

While is it very difficult to maintain balance in today’s world of fast food and pseudo food, herbs can provide the elements neccesary to maintain health and balance. Some of these include amla, ashwaganda, bibhitaki, gota kola, aloe, and dry ginger.

Ayurveda is a very large and complex medicinal practice that can take quite some time to completely understand. However, if followed carefully and under a trained hand, one can find relief for just about any of the ailments people face today.