Ayurveda is widely considered one of the oldest holistic healing systems in the world. Originated in India eons ago, it is built upon the concept that everybody comprises the five basic elements of the universe: fire, water, air, space, and earth. Good health arises when all these elements are in perfect balance and harmony with each other.
With unprecedented levels of bodily issues being sprung in the current generation, turning to Ayurveda is axiomatically wise. Kerala is one of the most popular places for undergoing ayurvedic therapies, but before we look into Kerala Ayurveda, let’s understand what Ayurveda per se is.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is developed on the premise that the health and wellness of a person depend upon the balance of the body, mind, and spirit. The main goal of Ayurveda is not to fight diseases but to promote good health. However, Ayurveda does have a plethora of treatments available which are directed towards specific health issues.
The five basic elements in the universe combine in our bodies to form the three forces of life, which are referred to as “doshas.” One of the main goals of Ayurvedic treatment is to purge your body of undigested food that can otherwise stay in your body and cause illnesses.
This process is called “panchakarma,” and it restores balance and harmony inside your body. Ayurveda considers your unique mental and physical makeup and the balance between the three doshas in your body to create personalized remedies for you.
Why Kerala Ayurveda?
Ayurveda developed thousands of years ago in India; however, Kerala remains as one of the central hubs where Ayurveda has continued to thrive over the centuries. Across the years, no other city has been able to claim parity with Kerala in terms of Ayurveda. Naturally endowed with an optimal climate and blessed with abundant natural Ayurvedic herbs, Kerala is categorically the best city to undergo an authentic Ayurvedic experience.
The best time to experience Kerala Ayurveda is from June to November, i.e., during the monsoon season. This is because, during monsoons, the temperatures stay relatively even throughout the day, which puts the body at ease. The cool atmosphere opens up the pores, resulting in better absorption of herbal oils, and the rain filters out the dust from the air.
Every year, around 40 Lakh people travel to Kerala to experience authentic Ayurvedic methods and treatments.
Doshas in Kerala Ayurveda
The five basic elements: fire, water, air, space, and earth; intertwine and form the three kinds of doshas present in the human body—Vata, made up of air and space, Pitta, made up of water and fire, and finally, Kapha made up of water and earth.
The goal of Kerala Ayurveda is to balance out these three doshas in the human body.
1. The Vata Dosha (Air and Space)
This is widely believed to be the most powerful of all the doshas. The Vata dosha controls all the basic bodily functions, including cellular division. All the internal processes of your body, like breathing, pumping of the heart, blood flow, and getting rid of waste by your intestine, are governed by this dosha.
Things that can cause Vata imbalance in your body include fear, staying up late, grief, and not keeping appropriate gaps between meals. People with Vata imbalance are likely to develop asthma, anxiety, skin problems, and heart diseases.
2. The Pitta Dosha (Water and Fire)
This dosha is all about digestion, which is one of the most important functions of your body. The pitta dosha governs your metabolism—how effectively you utilize your food and the hormones related to appetite.
Things that can cause a pitta imbalance in your body include spending excess time in the sun and eating many spicy or sour foods. People with pitta imbalance tend to be more susceptible to infections, high blood pressure, and conditions like Crohn’s disease.
3. The Kapha Dosha (Water and Earth)
The Kapha dosha contributes to strength, muscle growth, immunity, and overall stability in body weight.
Things that can cause a Kapha imbalance in your body include:
- Consuming foods with too much water or too much salt.
- Sleeping during the day.
- Eating many sweets.
People with Kapha imbalance tend to develop obesity, asthma or other breathing difficulties, diabetes, cancer, and nausea after consuming food.
Gunas in Kerala Ayurveda
It is natural for everyone to go through cycles of restlessness, excessive procrastination, and lethargy, followed by cycles of productivity and bliss. Ayurveda lists down three attributes of the mind at work: Tamas, meaning heaviness, Rajas, meaning activity and restlessness; and Sattva, referring to the light and blissful state of mind. These are the three Gunas or qualities of nature.
1. The Sattva Guna
The sattva guna is also referred to as the mode of purity. This is a state of the mind which is nourishing, harmonious, and wholesome. This is the ultimate guna and our ultimate aim in terms of mental health. When your mind moves out of the sattva mode, you develop worry, fear, restlessness, and anxiety, similar to what you experience during a Vata imbalance.
2. The Rajas Guna
The Rajas guna is also referred to as the mode of passion or the mode of activity. This is a state of mind which is active, creative and initiates change. This is the guna you need when you want to radically change something in your life. However, when you have a Rajas imbalance in your mind, it can take the form of anger, hatred, or jealousy. Therefore, the Rajas guna imbalance can be equated with the pitta dosha.
3. The Tamas Guna
The tamas guna is also referred to as the mode of lethargy or laziness. This is the state of mind when it is easy-going, passive, and lazy. We need the tamas guna to be able to rest properly. However, when there is a tamas imbalance in your mind, it can lead to feelings of selfishness, excessive attachment, and destructive behavior. Therefore, the tamas guna imbalance can be equated with the Kapha dosha.
Treatments in Kerala Ayurveda
Now that we have a basic overview of the different concepts in Kerala Ayurveda, we can pay heed to the various treatments available in Kerala Ayurveda.
1. The Kayachikitsa Treatment
Kayachikitsa is the first branch of the eight-branched Astanga Ayurveda. This form of Ayurveda deals with general medicine. Kaya here refers to ‘body’ while Chikitsa translates to ‘treatment.’ This treatment focuses on a range of general diseases, arthritis, diabetes, tuberculosis, rheumatoid, and a host of skin disorders.
2. The Shalya Chikitsa Treatment
In the form of Shalya Chikitsa, Kerala Ayurveda introduced surgery to the world long before medical science did. When medicines fail, and there is a need for surgical intervention, Shalya Chikitsa is practiced.
3. The Damshitra Chikitsa Treatment
This treatment in Ayurveda deals with the flushing out of toxins from the body through the cleansing of the immunity system. Healthy and nutritious foods are given to categorically remove toxins that the body has accumulated through water and air pollution.
4. The Jara Chikitsa Treatment
The goal with Jara Chikitsa is to enable our bodies to live a longer life by elongating the Ojo, the force of life. Ojo is increased through the aid of Rasayana, which is the process involved in slowing down aging.
5. The Vrishya Chikitsa Treatment
This branch of Kerala Ayurveda focuses on creating a better society by producing healthy offspring. Hence, the Vrishya Chikitsa treatment deals with issues of infertility and weak reproductive fluids.
While the world relies on allopathy, Kerala has widely adapted Ayurveda and practices it with dedication. Getting to the roots of the problems and curing them with nature is the very essence of Ayurveda that Kerala effectively portrays.
Numerous rejuvenation therapies are practiced within Kerala Ayurveda, such as the ones aforementioned, along with paying attention to beauty, weight loss, de-stress, yoga, and more. With an array of benefits that could be reaped from Kerala Ayurveda, it is worth experiencing and deserves all the attention!
Authored By: Bhavishya Pahwa
About the Author : Bhavishya Pahwa is a budding writer who has always confided in a pen. He believes that art is a cure-all and that introspection followed by writing can add to the sanity of the world.