Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old healing methodology that literally translates to mean Science (Ayur) or Life (Veda). It has a wonderfully simple idea at its heart. Ayurveda believes that everything in the cosmos is made up of 5 basic elements – Air, Fire, Water, Space, Earth and that these come together in unique combinations to form everything. Once we understand these elements, and their purpose, we can use them to stay super healthy.
Ether or space
It is said that nothing can exist without space. It is omnipresent and a basic need of our body. When things start getting congested, then we have trouble. Consider an everyday example like queuing. It’s fine until 500 other people join in. So it is with is. We need space. We want things to flow. In Ayurveda we say that without space there can be no love or freedom!
Air is a bit different because the energy that was just space is now moving in a particular direction. Air is the element we need to keep everything moving in the body and Prana, our most Vital Force, is the basic element of air, necessary for us to exist in this World, to be able to interpret sensation and to move around in it.
Once things start moving, it is this element that creates heat–fire and gives us our awareness. It is the energy of transformation. When we eat, we need fire to breakdown that food into substances our bodies can use. Without fire we will literally starve. Without fire we have no passion, no attention and no understanding.
The beautiful cleansing power of water. We need it to assimilate, to maintain our electrolyte balance and to transport oxygen, food and everything else we need to our cells. Within water, everything else performs its functions, hence the name ‘water of life’. Hence the need for proper hydration.
The final element is earth, the beautiful solid aspect of our existence. The basis for all life. All our solid structures–bones, teeth, nails and skin are derived from earth. These 5 elements maintain and support our life when in balance. However if the balance shifts and it is left unchecked, disease may result. For example, if we eat too much heavy food derived from the earth, it can lead to obesity. Or if we eat much hot, spicy food there will be too much fire in the body, leading to inflammation, fever etc.
The imbalance need not only manifest on a physical level, Ayurveda tells us that imbalance also leads to mental/emotional disturbances. To correct any imbalance, like in any other aspect of life, we look for the opposite quality. So if there is too much water, take in more earth. If there is too much earth, we need lightness and space. It there is too much fire; we need to settle it using the other elements. In most cases, if we spot it early, the signs and symptoms of imbalance can be self corrected in this way. If the imbalance is more entrenched, professional support from an Ayurvedic practitioner is recommended.
Author: Lisa Clegg