What is Ayurveda?

Can you remember older people saying things like “he’s got a very strong constitution”? Did you understand what was meant by that, what was this “constitution”? This is what Ayurveda is all about, this constitution, a person’s make-up, their true nature.

Ayurveda is the traditional healing system of India and it is said that over 5000 years ago the great teachers of India took the fundamentals of life and organised them into a system. Ayurveda means the science of life.

The elements

According to Ayurveda, everything is composed of the five elements which are space, air, fire, water and earth. These represent five qualities of energy or matter. They can’t be seen or measured by Western science, but we can know them through the qualities that we experience in our physical and mental existence.


In a single cell membrane are all the elements. The earth element gives structure to the cell, the water element governs liquid in the cell, the metabolism of the cell is governed by the fire element, the air element governs the gases and the space element is that which the cell occupies.

Although Ayurveda is the science of qualities and although we are fully aware of these qualities daily, rarely in the West do we think in terms of them. Ayurvedic knowledge teaches us how important it is to be able to read and analyse these qualities; with qualitative descriptions we can determine what measures will restore health.

The doshas

In Ayurveda we speak about the three energies, or doshas. Each one of the doshas is a combination of two elements and they are responsible for the physiological and psychological processes of your body and mind. All of your characteristics, physical, mental and emotional, can be described in terms of these doshas. The names for these doshas are vata, pitta and kapha and they are detected by their qualities. They need to work in harmony for us to experience full health and well-being. When you become familiar with the qualities of the doshas in your body and mind, you will be able to use Ayurveda to keep them in balance so that you remain healthy. Restoring balance to these doshas is the key to good health.