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Ayurveda as Lifestyle

The word 'Ayurveda' comes from the Sanskrit word 'Ayur' meaning 'Life' and 'Veda' meaning 'Knowledge'. Ayurveda means 'the science of life'.

Ayurveda has originated from the Vedas and is the Upaveda of the Atharva Veda.

Brahma, God of creation recollected Ayurveda and transmitted this knowledge to his son, Daksha Prajapati. Daksha Prajapati then taught this knowledge to the Ashwins (Ashwini Kumaras), two vedic twin Gods who were the celestial physicians. They then presented the knowledge of Ayurveda to Indra, the King of Gods. Indra had three disciples, namely Acharya Bharadwaj, Acharya Kashyapa and Acharya Divodas Dhanwantari. Acharya Bharadwaj’s disciple was Atreya. The knowledge of Ayurveda was then passed from Atreya to his six disciples, Agnivesha, Bhela, Jatukarna, Parashara, Harita and Ksharpani and they separately created their own treaties in the field of Ayurveda. Among them, Agnivesha developed the fundamental Ayurvedic text of internal medicine called Agnivesha Tantra. Acharya Agnivesha’s disciple, Acharya Charaka then revised Agnivesha Tantra and later known as Charaka Samhita and is considered as the earliest codified text in Ayurveda. Sushruta tradition was said to be descended and propagated by Dhanwantari. Sushruta School is dominated by surgical procedures and the codified document is known as Susruta Samhita. Thus started the tradition of passing down the knowledge of Ayurveda from Gods to Sages.

The Mahabharata, India’s epic narrative, also tells of the incarnation of Vishnu as Dhanwantari, King of Kasi. During the great cosmic churning of the ocean for the celestial nectar of immortality, Dhanwantari emerged, and Vishnu commissioned him to help humanity cure diseases.

Ayurveda has eight major disciplines that are collectively known as Ashtanga Ayurveda, or the Eight Branches of Ayurveda:

  1. Kaya Chikitsa (General Medicine)
  2. Bala Chikitsa (Pediatrics)
  3. Graha Chikitsa (Psychiatry)
  4. Urdhwanga Chikitsa (Ophthalmology & ENT)
  5. Shalya Chikitsa (ParaSurgical & Marma)
  6. Visha Chikitsa (Toxicology)
  7. Jara Chikitsa (Geriatrics)
  8. Vrisha Chikitsa (Aphrodisiac Treatment)

Let’s go into a little detail about each of these.

...Read more


Health (Swasthya):

“sama dosha sama agnischa sama dhatu mala kriyaaha prasanna atma indriya manaha swastha iti abhidheeyate”

It is the balanced state of functions of Tridosha (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), Saptadhatu (Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa, Medo, Asthi, Majja, Sukra), Agni (Digestive fire) and Mala (Urine, Faeces and Sweat) with delighted Mind, Senses & Spirit.


“vikaro dhatu vaishamyam”

The imbalance of the Dhatus is called Vikara or Vyadhi (diseased state).

In this context, The Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), Dhatus (Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa, Medas, Asthi, Majja and Shukra), the gunas of the mind (Satva, Rajas and Tamas) are together called the Dhatus.


The word Dosha is derived from Sanskrit root word Dusha which means contamination. Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the three doshas which are the governing principles of physiology and psychology.

Vata Dosha:

Vata is derived from the verb root ‘Va’ meaning to move or transport or impel.

Enthusiasm, respiration, movement, transportation of nutrients, proper elimination of urine, feaces, sweat, menstrual blood and fetus are the normal functions of vata.

Pain, stiffness, heaviness in the body, loss of sleep, roughness of skin, emaciation, instability of mind, irregularity of digestion, muscle wasting, tremors, blackish discoloration, weakness of sensory and motor functions, loss of consciousness, giddiness, constipation are the symptoms of impairment of functions of vata.

Vata gets aggravated by intake of bitter, astringent, dry and pungent foods, fasting, suppression of natural urges, excessive cold, worry and night awakening.

Prana, Udana, Vyana, Samana and Apana are the five types of vata and they regulate the specified functions in the body.

Prana regulates the respiration, will power, functions of heart, sense organs, intellect and performing functions such as expectoration, sneezing, belching and swallowing of food.

Udana functions are initiation of speech, enthusiasm, effort, energy, strength, color, complexion, memory.

Vyana regulates the muscle functions such as flexion, extension, opening and closing of eyelids

Samana, which receives the food into the GI tract, helps in digestion of food, separation of essential part and waste part, and excrete the waste in their respective path.

Apana evicts the semen, menstrual blood, feaces, urine and the products of conception.

Pitta Dosha :

Pitta is derived from the verb root ‘tapa’ meaning to heat.

Pitta is involved with various physiological functions related to agni (heat) like digestion, metabolic and enzymatic activities such as digestion of food, body heat, thirst, hunger, vision, lustre, cheerfulness, intellect, strength, retention of memory, softness of body and also regulate the hormones.

Yellowish discoloration of urine, faeces, eyes, skin, burning sensation, reduced sleep, excessive perspiration, weakness of digestion, loss of lustre, feeling of cold and burning sensation are the symptoms of impairment of pitta function.

Pitta gets aggravated by intake of pungent, sour, hot, salt and irritant substances, anger, excessive fasting, exposure to hot sun.

Pachaka, Ranjaka, Sadhaka, Alochaka and Bhrajaka are the five types of pitta, they regulate the specific functions in the body.

Pachaka pitta digests the ingested food and separates the essence and waste, it grace and influence the other types of pitta

Ranjaka imparts colour to the ahara rasa (the end portion of digestion which gets absorbed and circulates in the body) and converts into blood.

Sadhaka helps to achieve the goal through intellect, discriminating power and self esteem.

Alochaka which is responsible for sight and thinking processes.

Bhrajaka which gives natural lustre to skin.

Kapha Dosha:

Kapha represents the water element of the human body and translates as mucus or phlegm.

Body and mind stability, strength, enthusiasm, moistness, oiliness, smoothness, lubricates and connects joints and bones, promotes wound healing, increases libido, good sleep, memory are the normal functions of kapha in the body.

Diminution of digestive fire, excess salivation, nausea, cold, excessive sleep, lack of enthusiasm, pallor, cough, giddiness, palpitation, laxity of joints, abnormal growth, depression are the symptoms of imparied functions of kapha dosha.

Kapha gets aggravated by intake of excess sweet, sour, salty, unctuous, heavy substances, lack of exercise and day sleep.

Avalambaka, Kledaka, Tarpaka, Bodhaka and Sleshaka are the five types of kapha, they regulate the specific functions in the body.

Avalambaka supports and protects the vitality of heart and lungs with the help of food essence.

Kledaka moistens and produces the unctuous food which enters the stomach.

Tarpaka gives nourishment and promotes the proper functioning of sensory organs.

Bodhaka helps to perceive the taste by tongue.

Sleshaka lubricates the joints and protects from bone friction and helps for easy movement of joints.


“dhaaranaath dhaatavah”

That which does Dhaarana (holds the body) is called Dhatus. The body is composed of seven Dhatus which is responsible for the entire structure of the body.


Rasa is the first Dhatu formed from the essence of the food produced after digestion, which circulates all over the body. The function of rasa dhatu is Preenana (nourishment of the body).

The digested food is converted to essence and waste and the essence part is called Rasa Dhatu.


Rakta is the blood and it is formed from Rasa Dhatu. The function of Rakta is Jeevana (enlivening). Its prime function is sustenance and nourishment of the body. It brings luster to the skin and nourishes the Mamsa Dhatu.


Mamsa is muscle tissue. It is formed from and receives nourishment from the Rakta Dhatu. Its function is Lepana (binding).

Mamsa gives covering and strength to the body’s frame. They aid in various functions of the body like movement of joints and locomotion. Also it provides nourishment to the forthcoming Dhatu.


Medo Dhatu is compared to Fat tissue. It is produced from and nourished by the Mamsa Dhatu. Its main function is Snehana ( Lubrication).

It lubricates every cell of the body and controls sweat formation. Proper nourishment of Meda Dhatu gives proper shape to the body. It acts as a shock absorber and also protects the body from excess cold and hot climate.


Asthi Dhatu is bone tissue. It is formed from the Medo Dhatu. Its main function is Dharana (to hold the body straight). It forms the framework to give shape and structure of the body.


Majja Dhatu is compared to bone marrow. Its main function is Poorana (Filling). It fills in the bone cavities and are formed from and nourished by the Asthi Dhatu.

During the formation of Asthi Dhatu, Vata creates spaces in Asthi. These spaces are filled with nourishing tissues known as Majja or Bone marrow.


Shukra is the seventh and final Dhatu in the body and is considered as the essence of all the other Dhatus. It is formed from the Majja Dhatu and is located in the entire body. Shukra is white, pure, excellent Dhatu, which is considered as best among all seven Dhatus.


Malas are the waste products of metabolism. They are Pureesha (faeces), Mutra (urine), Sweda (sweat).

Mala are the waste substances that need to be eliminated from the body. They are formed as a result of various physiological activities occuring in the body. After digestion the end product is divided into Saara form (Ahara rasa) and Kitta bhaaga (Mala). The name Mala is derived from the word “Malineekaranam'' which means contamination. The Malas are also known as Dushya because they may cause diseases under the influence of the imbalanced doshas.


Pureesha is the waste product which is left after digestion, after the nutrients from food have been absorbed by the body. The quantity of excreta is determined by the attributes of food ingested and also by the process of digestion taking place in the Maha Srotas.

Avasthambha is the primary function of Purisha. Avashtambha means Shariradharana (gives strength to the body). Purisha also performs Vayu and Agni Dharana i.e. Purisha gives strength to Vayu and Agni.

After performing its Sharira Dharana function, Purisha gets excreted out of body under the influence of Apana Vata.


According to Ayurveda, mutram (urine) is also the waste by-product of pachana (digestion of food) and it is said to be formed of excess moisture content in the body resulting from digestion. It performs the major function of balancing the moisture content or water balance in the body. The Mutra excretes all the bodily wastes formed as a result of various metabolic processes in the body.

Poor urine output results in bladder pain or infection, difficult urination, fever, thirst, dry mouth, or dehydration.


It is not the waste byproduct of food digestion but a waste product formed during Dhatu level pachana (metabolism at the Dhatu level). It is the waste product of Medo Dhatu.

Sweat controls the body temperature by expelling excess water and toxins, moistens the skin and hair, cools the body, carries excess fat from the body, and purifies the blood.

Excess sweating can cause increased perspiration, Bad odour, Itching on the skin, dehydration, fatigue, or convulsions. Deficient sweating can result in stiff hair, dry skin, skin fissures, wrinkles.

Tastes (Rasa)

Rasa is defined as knowledge perceived through Rasana Indriya (sense of taste) when substances come in contact with the tongue.

Madhura (Sweet), Amla (Sour), Lavana (Salt), Katu (Spicy/ Pungent), Tikta (Bitter) and Kashaya (Astringent) are the six types of Rasa.

Madhura Rasa (Sweet taste):

Madhura rasa increases the kapha dosha in the body. It helps to balance the vata and pitta dosha.

It nourishes the dhatus, promotes breast milk, hair growth, healing, improving the complexion, voice, and increasing the life span are the functions of madhura rasa.

Excess use of madhura rasa causes obesity, loss of digestion, loss of appetite, diabetes, tumors, and goitre.

Amla Rasa (Sour taste):

Amla rasa pacifies the vata and increases pitta and kapha.

It clears the oral cavity, causing horripilation, tingling sensation of teeth, and contraction of eyes and eyebrows.

Function of amla rasa is to increase the appetite, increase taste, produce saliva, helps for digestion, is pleasant, energizes the body and enlightens the mind.

Excess consumption of amla rasa causes thirst, diminished vision, giddiness, itching, anemia, edema, fever, causing burning sensation in the throat and chest.

Lavana Rasa (Salty taste):

Lavana rasa decreases vata and increases the pitta and kapha.

It causes watering of the mouth, burning sensation of cheeks and throat.

Lavana rasa increases taste, digestion, helps in carmination, cures stiffness, obstruction and accumulation, causes unctuousness and perspiration.

Excess consumption of lavana rasa causes baldness, greying of hair, skin wrinkles, thirst, skin diseases, toxicity, cellulitis, body weakness.

Katu Rasa (Pungent/ Spicy taste):

Katu rasa decreases the kapha and increases the pitta and vata.

It produces trembling at the tip of the tongue, watering of eyes, nose, mouth and causes burning sensation of cheeks.

It is carminative, stimulates digestion, improves appetite, helps in absorption of food, disintegrates obstruction, it reduces the unctuousness, mucous, and lipids.

Excess usage causes thirst, loss of strength, fainting, muscle cramps, loss of libido, hip and back pain, tremor.

Tikta Rasa (Bitter taste):

Tikta rasa decreases the pitta & kapha and increases the vata.

It cleans the mouth and inhibits the sensation of taste. Tikta rasa is not a pleasant taste but it promotes taste, improves appetite, cures worms, thirst, burning sensation, fainting, fever, skin ailments, over secretion of mucus, promotes intellect, purifies breast milk, clears the throat.

Excess usage of tikta rasa causes depletion of dhatus.

Kashaya Rasa (Astringent taste):

Kashaya rasa pacifies the pitta & kapha and increases vata.

It makes the tongue dry and produces stiffness in the throat.

It causes dryness, relieves sputum, delays the Ama formation, and great skin tonic.

Excessive use of kashaya rasa causes abdominal stress, abdominal distension, chest pain, thirst, lack of sexual power, obstruction of channels and constipation.

The word Dinacharya is derived from two words; ‘Dina’(day) and ‘Charya’(activity). The activities or regimens which need to be followed daily by an individual to maintain one's health is Dinacharya.

Dinacharya aims at providing a comprehensive body-mind health. It is one of the preventive health care practises in Ayurveda.

  1. A healthy person should rise at Brahma Muhurta (3hrs preceding sunrise).
  2. After self analysing on how well the body feels, evacuation of urine and feces should be done.
  3. Brush the teeth with any twigs of herbs like neem, babul, etc, while brushing care should be taken not to injure the gums
  4. Scrape the tongue and wash the face.
  5. Application of collyrium of Sauviranjana should be done everyday. It lubricates the eyes, improves vision and promotes growth of eyelashes.
  6. A collyrium of Rasanjana should be applied once a week to promote elimination of kapha accumulated in the eyes.
  7. Then one should instill nasal drops (Nasya) with herbal decoctions or herbal oils.
  8. Kavala or gargling should be done thereafter followed by inhalation of smoke (dhumapana) from herbs.
  9. Abhyanga (oil massage) should be done daily in the morning. It delays ageing, increases strength, relieves tiredness, balances vata, improves skin tone and complexion. Application of oil is particularly important on the head, ears and feet.
  10. One should undertake exercise limited to half their strength. It makes the body lighter, increases work capacity, improves digestion, reduces fat, and makes the organs of the body strong and stable.
  11. Udwartana (herbal powder body massage) reduces kapha, dissolves adiposity, stabilises the organs and improves complexion.
  12. Bathing with warm water enhances appetite and digestive power and promotes longevity, virility, strength and energy; reduces itching, removes dirt, tiredness, sweat, thirst and burning sensation. Warm water when used for bathing the head, it reduces the strength of eyes and affects hair growth.
  13. Food: One should take food only after the previous meal has completely digested, in moderate quantity. It is important to take food in the proper quantity which promotes the digestive fire and helps in proper digestion.
  14. Wearing of foot wear, holding of a stick or umbrella for self protection is recommended.

Nidra (sleep) is one of the most important components of our physiology. It is considered as one of the three pillars of health, alongside Ahara (food) and Brahmacharya (celibacy). Hence, proper sleep is an essential element for maintaining health and longevity.

According to Charaka, when the Manas (mind) including the Indriyas (sense organs) is exhausted and they dissociate themselves from their objects, then the individual sleeps.

Sushruta Samhita says timely sleep leads to nourishment, increases complexion, strength, enthusiasm, good digestive fire and equilibrium of all the dhatus. The opposite is caused due to improper sleep.

One should not indulge in sleep in an inappropriate time, or too much or too little sleep. Being awake at night increases Vata and sleep during the day increases Kapha.

The disturbance in sleep might be related to the faulty lifestyle, mental tension, changed food habits and stress which ultimately disturbs the sleep. Ayurveda describes Nidranasha (sleeplessness) as a symptom, as a disorder and even sometimes as a complication of certain diseases. Particular symptoms arising due to loss of sleep are bodyache, heaviness of head, yawning, dullness, fatigue, giddiness, tiredness and diseases due to derangement of Vata. Hence, at night one should sleep at the right time and for the right duration.

Sleeping during the day time in the seasons other than summer is not advisable as it causes vitiation of Kapha and Pitta. Persons with excessive fat, those who regularly take dry foods, those with Kaphaja constitution, those suffering from diseases due to vitiation of Kapha and those suffering from artificial poisoning are not indicated to sleep during the day time.

Day sleep produces complications such as anorexia, indigestion and suppression of the power of digestion, stiffness, anaemia, itching, burning sensation, vomiting and malaise, impairment of cardiac functions, stiffness, drowsiness and continuous sleep, appearance of nodules, weakness, reddish colouration of urine and eyes, coating over palate.

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