Yoga Retreat
Advanced Yoga Study ( By Swami Dharmananda
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Chapter - 2

Ayurveda

Dosha
Ayurveda is an ancient science of medicine in India. It literally means, 'The science of life'. It is the world's oldest health care system. It is one of ancient India's greatest gift to the world. It is a science of health based on universal principles and profound insights into the connection between the body and mind and the laws of nature that structures all activities in life, it is heartening to see that this ancient Indian wisdom is again regaining its importance and becoming increasingly popular all over the world.

According to Ayurveda there are three substances or biological humors in the human body that governs all life processes of growth and decay. In Ayurveda these biological humors are known as Doshas. Dosha means that which darkens, spoils, causes things to decay or a fault. When out of balance, the doshas are causative forces in the disease process. Doshas are invisible. They govern the physical processes in the body without being quite physical themselves. They lie in the gap between energy and matter and are the connecting link between them. It is at this level that thought turns into matter. They are three in number. The doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

The composition of the Doshas
The doshas are composed from five great elements. These five great elements are Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These elements are not exactly what is known to us as space, air, fire, water and earth. These are subtle forces whose combination gives rise to what is known to us. A more detailed understanding of these five elements will be given later. By mixing different pairs of the five elements, one arrives at the three doshas.

 


Vata 
Pitta
Kapha


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is composed of space and air
is composed of fire and water
is composed of earth and water.


The functions of the Doshas

Vata
This is the energy responsible for all movement in the physical body. Although it is the air principle it is not the air of the external environment but subtle energy that governs biological movement. Vata is prana in its gross aspect functioning in the physical body. It controls breathing, movement of muscles, movement of food through the digestive tract, and nerve impulses to and from the brain. Its etymological meaning is, 'that which moves things'. It also governs our sensory and mental balance and orientation and promotes mental adaptability and comprehension.

 

   
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