Ayurveda “Tune your life by Attuning to Nature!”
Ayurveda- Subtle connection between nature and physiology
Silence stillness everywhere
Subtle movement from nowhere
Sublime Vibration everywhere
Springs life everywhere
Nature and its attributes – Gross and subtle connection with the inhabitants of Earth
Space is the container as well as the content. Space is still and cold. Life is still in the space. Movement in space brings about life. This subtle movement is the life force energy or “Prana” or “Chi”. This movement fills the space with the vibration which sounds as “OM”. “OM” is the very first sound vibration born from space due to movement in space. Wind is responsible for movement. Heat/fire is inherent in sound vibration. (Example: open a thermos, and try to hear the sound). Life cease to exist in stillness and cold, heat sows the seeds of life and movement germinates and springs life alive.
The Life force energy or Prana has three components or three subtle or cosmic energies – Lunar energy (Soma/ lubrication and moisture), Solar energy (Agni/fire) and Wind energy (Marut – movement). These three energies are intertwined in nature which governs the nature/Universe, earth and human beings. These three energies are dormant in space or nature and they come alive due to movement. Entire functioning of the Universe and human beings are pervaded by the Heat and cold principles. For activating the heat and cold principle, movement – air or wind is necessary.
These subtle cosmic energies manifest as the five physical elements – Space, air, fire, water and earth.
- Space is the container for all these elements. It is space within which everything exists and acts. Quality: Subtle, light, soft, smooth and porus
- Air: Movement in space creates air. Quality: mobile, dynamic, light, cold, rough, fine, subtle, dry
- Fire: Friction in air produces heat and causes fire. Quality: Hot, sharp, subtle, light and radiant
- Water: Condensation of fire creates Water – Fire condenses to form water. Quality; liquid, sticky, cold, soft, compact, heavy, and moist.
- Earth holds the water and when water dries and forms earth. Qualtiy: stable, compact, rigid, unctuous, and dense
Through senses we perceive a stimulus originating from outside or inside the body. Senses are perception, it is a feeling associated with sense organs. The five senses Sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell are related with the sense organs Ear, Skin, eyes, tongue and Nose (gynanendriyas) and organs of action – vocal chords, hands, feet, genito-urinary system and anus through which these senses are given life.
Similar to our physical body composed and made of the five elements (panchamahabhutas), these senses and sense organs are also connected with the five fundamental elements.
Prana through the vibrational channels is responsible for movement of sense inputs from the external world or environment into the body. It does not suffice only to keep the physical channels clean but it is vital to maintain the vibrational channels clean.
Pathway of senses input into the brain: Brain demands excess amount of energy to meet the hectic lifestyle and to balance stress and competition. The increased demand of energy is met from these main sources:
At the physical level: Throguh Air we breathe, Water, and Food.Mind Body connection starts at the inhalation of Prana (life force energy) and circulated inside the body.
Not only humans directly take in these 5 elements as mentioned above for their survival, they indirectly consume these elements through the food they eat. These five elements govern six rasaas or tastes of the food, ingredients of all the foods/herbs/chemical medications or additives, we eat or drink.
Intelligence of nature has combined or associated these five elements in pairs to protect and facilitate balanced functioning of our physiology. But when these elements occupy our physiology, they are in an imbalanced state and so they are classified as Doshas or humors in Ayurveda. Imbalance is termed as “Dosha” in Sanskrit.
Vata (Wind energy/ Priciple of circulation, movement and communication – Space + Air): Space and air go together because Space holds air. Air moves the space and creates life. Space springs to life only when there is movement by air.
Pitta (Solar energy/sun/ Principle of conversion, transformation – Fire + Water): Fire and water combine to facilitate flow preventing heat stagnating in one particular place. Water inherent in fire reduces burning and excess heat. (Example: Gasoline).
Kapha (Lunar energy/Moon/ Principle of construction and lubrication – Earth + Water): Earth holds the water. Both provide stability, unctuousness, moisture balance and lubrication and solid construction.
Functions of five elements in the Universe and Physiology
The major source of Electromagnetic radiation in the solar system is The SUN. This energy from the sun is converted into different forms of energies and is being used by the inhabitants of the earth. Plants use it for photosynthesis, to form glucose which is used by animals as a source of energy. Human beings use it for maintaining body functions, (Vitamin D from sun rays). Without this energy “Life ceases to exist” on earth. Ref: A text book of science for the health professions by Barry Hinwood.
Solar energy – Agni or fire/heat (temperature) is the main element behind conversation and transformation of food we eat.
In general, the sixteen transformative “flames,” or agnis, operating in the physiology are constantly on, you can say that they run 24/7, and their optimal functioning constitutes a very important aspect of human well being.
Agni/fire or flame governs the transformation/cooking of food in the stomach. It is also present in the liver helping in metabolism; in the tissues transforming nutrition to plasma, plasma to blood, blood to muscle, muscle to fat, fat to bone, bone to bone marrow and bone marrow to ojas or immunity. Fire/Agni in the cells governs cellular transformation, in the mind govern transformation of neurotransmitters in the synopsis; in the heart govern transformation of emotions.
There are three types of imbalances for fire (Agni in Sanskrit) in the physiology:
Dull – digestive fire is low; digestion is sluggish, slow. You experience heaviness, dullness, lethargy, sleepy after the meal. pH balance goes high but the temperature (Agni or the flame) itself is low. Body produces slimy, sticky toxins. Low temperature range slows down enzymatic reaction of breaking down the nutrition for absorption.
Sharp – digestive fire is very high. pH is low whereas the temperature (fire) is high. Signs of sharp digestive fire are Burning sensation, frequent bowel movement, feeling hungry often. Whatever one eats gets digested very fast and sent to the colon for elimination. Under such conditions, there is not enough nutrition for absorption by the body. Sometimes one might experience irritable bowls or frequent bowel movement a soon as finishing the meal. It burns the tissues. Body processes lot of wastes in the form of free radicals or acidic toxins. Body becomes very acidic in this situation. The circulatory channels can rupture causing major health problems. Enzymes are exposed to high temperature and this reduces their efficiency.
Variable – sometimes it is sharp and sometimes dull. Body fails to maintain ideal pH balance in the various locations of the body. The temperature range and the pH for enzymatic reactions vary.
All the above situations lead to poor nutrition. Poor nutrition fails to nourish the tissues. This causes poor functioning of the organs and systems and deprives energy to the cells.
Balanced – samagni” (“sama” for equal) indicates the ideal state where a balanced pH, depending on the different needs of the areas of the body, reigns. Enzymes work under ideal range of temperature and pH. Good quality of nutrition is produced and broken down for absorption and circulation through the blood.
Enzymes work with in a temperature range (Agni or fire) and optimum range of pH values within the body. When the temperature is too high (hyperthermia) or too low (hypothermia), the body system starts to shutdown. Enzymes are involved in breaking complex substances down to their simpler components (Catabolic) or when they help reactions that built up materials by putting their components together (anabolic). Example: An enzyme called sucrose helps break sugar into glucose and fructose. Digestive fire means the enzymes that are located in the digestive system and aid digestion and metabolism.
Enzymatic reaction happens in the gaps. For example Nerve cells communicate with each other at a gap or junction called a synapse. At the synapse signals move from one neuron to another. Small space between the cells called synaptic cleft where all the actions take place. When you eat food, sugar is extracted out, it mixes with the blood and the cells signal the pancreas to secrete insulin and liver, muscle and fat tissues to be ready to store the sugar for processing it into glucose – energy for later use. In diabetic patients this insulin cell signaling is missing and so the sugar does not get stored, which increase the blood sugar level. This is because the gap or the synaptic cleft where the signaling gets converted is blocked or is not clear. Principle of heat is behind conversion in the synaptic cleft.
Example: When you are cooking food on a gas stove, if the gas supply is good, but the gaps in the burner is clogged, then the flame won’t be uniform. The food will be semi cooked, or burnt or will not be cooked at all or it might take a long time to cook. Similarly the enzymes might have an ideal temperature range and pH for its functioning, but when there is a problem in the gaps, the digestion goes for a toss. Not only digestion, this applies to all the body functions such as memory recall, processing thoughts, understanding, response, action and reaction to a stimulus etc.
Each ingredient is made up of the five fundamental elements of Soma, Agni and Marut and also the taste (Rasa) of the food is also subject to the combination of the five basic elements of nature. You can infer this from the chart below. There are six tastes sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter.
|Sweet/Madhur||Earth + Water (Pritvi+ Aap/Jala)|
|Sour/Amla (Shusruta)||Water+Fire (Aap/Jala + Agni)|
|Sour/Amla (Carak, Vagbhatta, Ashtanghridaya)||Earth + Fire (Prithvi + Agni)|
|Salty/Lavana||Water + fire (Aap/Jala + Agni)|
|Pungent/Katu||Air + Fire (Vayu + Agni)|
|Bitter/Tikta||Air + Space/Ether ( Vayu + Akash)|
|Astringent/Kashaya ||Air + Earth (Vayu + Prithvi)|
This universe is filled with abundance of life-force energy. Satellites, Sun, moon, wind, and stars occupy the space. When air is still – gases and dust occupy the emptiness or space.
Aurvedic Science focuses on maintaining health from the gross or physical level and gradually work towards the coordination of subtle and cosmic level – mind and the consiousness. That is why the focus is on Food “Ahara” – the food sheath (Annamaya kosha). Our physical body is recoconised throguh the food.This subtlety between human being and nature, highlights the importance of co-existing with nature. When we realize living in tune with nature’s rhythm, we can lead a healthy life and increase our longevity.
Ref: From Spiritual discourses by His Holiness Sadguru Yogiraj Sri Sri Mangeshda and SVA lectures by Vaidya Mishra.
|Acknowledgement: I Thank my Ayurvedic teacher Vaidya Mishra of Shaka Vansya Ayurveda – www.vaidyamisra.com for teaching me Pure – Shudha Ayurveda, how to apply the traditional science in this stressful modern world, providing me opourtunity to learn this unique Vedic science from both angles – from vedic perspective and Modern science perspective – Sutra to Science by being on his research pannel.|