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Ayurveda: Intro to the Elements

Someone recently approached me saying, “Have you heard of Ayurveda? Its totally becoming the new thing.” A lady in the room contributed, “Yeah, even Dr. Oz is all about it.” What is this magical healing art called Ayurveda?  Before you go out and start tattooing the elements on your body and putting turmeric in your ice cream, we thought we’d give you some introductory information to this amazing and ancient form of medicine that can be used to treat all 7 Aspects of Wellness.

Translated from Sanskrit, Ayurveda means the Knowledge of Life(or Science of Longevity).  Although it is rapidly increasing in popularity here in the West, Ayurveda is not a new-age fad. One of the oldest continued practices of medicine, Ayurveda originated in India, where it is still practiced today.

Much like all ancient forms of medicine, Ayurveda views health and disease as a combination and a balance of the elements. Each process, each organ and each person has a predominate element (or multiple) based in its functionality. An imbalance to the natural elemental combination results in a symptom. The elements are described as follows:

The Elements from an Ayurvedic Perspective:

Ether:

Ether is space. An element associated with the cosmos, it contains all life. Ether, or space, exists within and around all things because it is that within which life is held. From an Ayurvedic perspective, someone with an excess of etherical properties may be considered an “air-head” by their peers. Lightheadedness and out of body experiences may also be associated with an excess of Ether.

Air:

Air is an element of movement and can also be described as wind. Too much air can dry out a person, resulting in dry skin, hair, or nails. Internally, restless energy, anxiety or gaseous expenditures may be symptoms of air related imbalances.

Fire:

Fire is heat, which can result in light and power. It is the element associated with digestion. Fire breaks down old thoughts, food, and emotions and makes way for new growth. An excess of fire can lead to rashes, acne and even anger.

Water:

Water is another element connected to digestion and waste removal. Water and liquid facilitate the movement of toxins broken down from the digestive fire, so that they can release.  People with water imbalances may experience bloating, edemas, or even fluid thoughts and adaptability to transitions.

Earth:

Earth is a stabilizing element. It is nurturing and grounding. Too much Earth can lead to symptoms like weight gain, depression, or lethargy.

Each person is a combination of all of these elements, although some elements may be more prominent than others. Ayurveda seeks to ensure that these elemental combinations stay in balance within our bodies and within the world in general.

Using elemental medicine in its most basic form uses a lot of common sense. If you are feeling hot, what do you do? Perhaps you drink a cold drink, or remove some warming layers. This is a way to add water and cooling air elements to reduce fire. If you are feeling dry, maybe you moisturize. This is a way to bring water to excessively dry areas.

To delve a little deeper, elemental cures can also treat emotional problems. If someone is experiencing heavy Earth influences and feels depressed, heavy and lethargic, a way to lighten the effect of Earth would be to add aspects of the other elements into their life so that the heaviness can be lifted. This could mean walking (movement being associated with Air and Fire). It could mean eating food that was light and airy – like fresh fruits with high water content (Ether, Air & Water).

Ayurveda is a system of medicine that uses elemental properties to diagnose and treat people, but this is only the beginning of this science. Ever wonder why you love broccoli but your partner hates it? Ayurveda believes that not every body is the same. We are all made up of a combination of elements, but each person has a particular combination that makes them who they are. Ayurvedic doshas classify people into particular elemental groups. The doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha.  Read more from our Ayurvedic Doshas article — Coming soon!

Author’s Bio:

Jessica Rhodes is a certified wellness adviser for the 123 Feel Better Company. The 123 Feel Better® Life Change System™ is a wellness program designed to help individuals reach their wellness goals and live fuller, more complete lives. 123 Feel Better is based on the 7 Aspects of Wellness™ model. Learn how to make real changes in the areas of Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, Environmental, Occupational, Social, and Intellectual Wellness to create a balanced life with 123 Feel Better and our free wellness resources at 123 Feel Better.