Ayurveda: An Ancient Practice For Balancing Body And Mind

Definition of Ayurveda

Ayurveda, a term derived from Sanskrit meaning “science of life”, is a holistic, preventive health practice originating in India. It is an ancient approach that considers the body, mind and soul as an interconnected whole. Ayurveda seeks to maintain a balance between these three elements to promote overall health and wellbeing. The practice focuses not only on treating the symptoms of illness, but also on finding and eliminating the root cause of disease.

Origins and History of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a health practice that dates back over 5,000 years, making it one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. Its roots can be traced back to the ancient Vedic texts of India, where the principles of Ayurveda were first recorded.

Ayurveda has survived the ages, foreign invasions and colonisation, and has managed to maintain its relevance and importance in the modern world. Today, it is not only practised in India, but has also gained popularity worldwide, due to its natural and preventive approach to health.

The Five Elements of the Universe According to Ayurveda

The fundamental principles of Ayurveda are based on the five elements. According to Ayurveda, health is the harmonious balance of these five elements in the body and mind.

  1. Space/Ether (Akasha): This represents emptiness, open space. In our bodies, it is linked to empty spaces, such as our ear canals, nose, etc.
  2. Air (Vayu): Air is movement, lightness. It is linked to movement in the body, such as breathing, blood circulation and nerve impulses.
  3. Fire (Agni): Fire is transformation, digestion. It is linked to the digestion of food, the transformation of thoughts and the regulation of body temperature.
  4. Water (Jala): Water is fluidity, cohesion. It is linked to bodily fluids such as blood, lymph, tears and saliva.
  5. Earth (Prithvi): Earth represents solidity, structure. It is linked to the physical structure of the body, such as bones, teeth and tissues.

The Three Doshas : Vata, Pitta, Kapha


The five elements manifest themselves in the human body in the form of three life forces, or doshas: Vata (space and air), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth). Each individual has a unique constitution, determined by the predominance of one or more of these doshas, which determines his or her state of physical, mental and emotional health. Vata is associated with movement, Pitta with transformation and Kapha with structure and stability. Balancing the doshas is considered essential for maintaining health and wellbeing.

The Concept of Prakriti and Vikriti in Ayurveda

Prakriti refers to an individual’s birth constitution. It is determined at the moment of conception and remains constant throughout life. It defines how we react to our environment and our susceptibility to certain diseases. Vikriti, on the other hand, is the current state of imbalance of the doshas. Knowing your Prakriti and Vikriti is essential in determining the appropriate diet, lifestyle and treatment to maintain or restore health balance.

The Practices of Ayurveda

Diagnostic Techniques in Ayurveda

Ayurveda has unique diagnostic methods that include examining the tongue, skin, eyes and pulse. Ayurveda places great importance on observing an individual’s daily life, eating habits, behaviour and emotions in order to establish a diagnosis.

The Main Ayurvedic Treatments


Panchakarma is a series of five purification therapies designed to eliminate toxins from the body and restore the balance of the doshas. These therapies include sweating, therapeutic vomiting, purging, administering medicines through the nose and blood therapy. These practices are only used in India by Ayurvedic doctors, and some of them are prohibited in France, where the focus is on changes in nutrition and lifestyle.


Nutrition plays an essential and primordial role in any Ayurvedic treatment protocol. According to the teachings of Ayurveda, healthy, efficient digestion promotes general wellbeing and a fulfilling life by ensuring that nutrients are properly absorbed and bodily waste products are eliminated. Good digestion is achieved through a diet adapted to each individual’s constitution.


Ayurveda recommends a daily routine, which includes healthy habits such as getting up early, practising yoga or exercise, meditating, eating meals at regular times and going to bed early. These practices help to harmonise the body with its natural rhythms, maintain the balance of the doshas, and promote physical and mental health.

Ayurvedic Massages

Ayurvedic massages use medicinal oils to reduce stress, improve blood circulation, promote sleep, strengthen the immune system and improve flexibility. These massages are often accompanied by heat and sweat therapies.


Ayurveda uses a large number of plants to create natural remedies to treat a variety of illnesses. These remedies can be administered in the form of powders, tablets, decoctions, oils, etc.


Yoga is an integral practice of Ayurveda that aims to maintain the balance between body, mind and soul. Yoga postures, known as ‘asanas’, help to strengthen the body and improve flexibility, while meditation promotes concentration, inner peace and self-awareness.

Ayurveda for Body Balance

The Holistic Approach to Ayurveda

Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to health, treating the body as a whole rather than focusing solely on the symptoms of disease. Balanced health therefore depends on many factors, including diet, sleep, exercise, stress management and interpersonal relationships.

The Importance of the Daily Routine (Dinacharya) in Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, maintaining a daily routine, or ‘Dinacharya’, is essential for physical health. A typical Dinacharya might include rising with the sun, brushing your teeth, cleaning your tongue, exercise, meditation, regular meals and going to bed before 10pm. Ayurveda maintains that adherence to a daily routine contributes to the balance of the doshas, optimal digestion, restful sleep and general vitality.

The Benefits of Ayurveda on Physical Health

Ayurveda can have a multitude of benefits for physical health. By balancing the doshas, it can help prevent and treat many chronic illnesses, including digestive disorders, respiratory problems and diabetes. Ayurveda can also improve skin health, strengthen the immune system, promote a healthy weight and improve energy and vitality. It should be noted that results may vary depending on the individual and his or her ability to follow Ayurvedic recommendations.

Ayurveda for Balance of Mind

Ayurveda and the Control of Emotions

Ayurveda recognises the importance of managing emotions for a balanced mind. According to this philosophy, untreated negative emotions can disturb the balance of the doshas and contribute to illness. Ayurveda offers techniques for managing emotions, such as meditation and yoga, as well as advice on diet and lifestyle to help maintain emotional balance.

The Impact of Ayurveda on Mental Health

By balancing the body and mind, Ayurveda can have a significant impact on mental health. As well as treating the physical imbalances that can contribute to mental health problems, Ayurveda offers techniques to reduce stress, improve sleep, increase mental clarity and promote a sense of peace and wellbeing. As a result, Ayurveda can be a valuable tool in the treatment and prevention of mood disorders, anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.

Meditation and Spirituality in Ayurveda

Meditation is a central Ayurvedic practice for balancing the mind. Regular meditation can help to calm the mind, increase self-awareness and foster a deeper connection with one’s spirituality. Ayurveda sees spirituality not as a religion, but as a connection with oneself and the universe, an essential aspect of maintaining balance in the mind.

Ayurveda in the Modern World

Integrating Ayurveda into Modern Medicine

Ayurveda has begun to be integrated into modern medicine, particularly in the field of integrative and functional medicine. Many health practitioners recognise the importance of Ayurveda’s holistic approach, which treats the body and mind as an interconnected whole. In addition, Ayurveda’s emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion through a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress management is increasingly valued in the modern medical world.

Ayurveda and Scientific Research

Scientific research has begun to explore the effectiveness of Ayurveda in the treatment of various health conditions. Several studies have examined the impact of Ayurveda on conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and mood disorders, with promising results. However, research into Ayurveda is still in its infancy and the results have so far been proven more by experience than by science.

Ayurveda: A Response to the Challenges of Contemporary Health

Ayurveda offers a unique and holistic response to the increase in chronic disease and stress associated with modern lifestyles. By focusing on disease prevention and health promotion through lifestyle changes, Ayurveda can help individuals take control of their own health and live a more balanced and fulfilling life. What’s more, Ayurveda’s natural approach makes it an attractive option for those seeking alternatives to drugs and surgery. But remember, Ayurveda is not in competition with modern medicine. On the contrary, it complements it!

A Final Word

Overall, Ayurveda is a fascinating traditional medical practice that can offer physical, mental and emotional health benefits. However, it is important to approach it with caution and to consult a qualified practitioner to determine whether it is suitable for your individual health needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Ayurveda a Religious Practice?

No, Ayurveda is not a religious practice. Although Ayurveda originated in ancient India, it is a medical practice that aims to maintain the balance of body, mind and soul.

Is Ayurveda Considered an Alternative Medicine?

Yes, Ayurveda is considered to be an alternative medicine, as it is used to complement or replace Western medical treatments.

How do I Start Practising Ayurveda?

To begin practising Ayurveda, we recommend that you consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner, who will be able to determine your constitution (Prakriti) and any imbalances (Vikriti). You can also start by adopting certain basic Ayurvedic practices, such as maintaining a daily routine, eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular exercise and meditation.

Is Ayurveda Suitable for Everyone?

Ayurveda is a holistic practice that can be adapted to each individual’s unique constitution and specific needs. However, some people may have medical conditions that require special attention or that may be contraindicated for certain Ayurvedic practices. It is therefore important to consult a qualified ayurvedic practitioner before starting any new Ayurvedic routine or treatment.

Is Ayurveda Covered by Health Insurance?

It depends on your health insurance. Some health insurance schemes cover Ayurvedic treatments, but it is important to check with your insurer for specific cover.

How Long Does it Take to See the Results of Ayurveda?

This depends on the nature of the health problem and how you follow the Ayurvedic practitioner’s recommendations. In some cases, results can be seen quickly, while in others it may take some time to see significant improvements.

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