GLOSSARY OF AYURVEDIC TERMS
The concept of Aama is unique to Ayurvedic science. It is a type of digestive waste due to the accumulation of toxic materials and is a result of an unhealthy diet, lifestyle and ingestion of toxins. Aama should not be present in the body because there is no mechanism for its elimination. Accumulation of Aama leads to disease. Its presence seriously affects the overall performance of bodily systems as it decreases immunity and increases sensitivity to stress.
Agni is the energy of transformation in the human body, the form of Pitta or fire in the body. Ayurveda gives prime importance to Agni because Agni is the base of all health and diseases.
The literal translation of Atma is ‘Soul’ – the central factor of Indian Philosophy. The biological functions of all living systems are attributed to the presence of Atma.
Buddhi consists of intellect and will and governs actions, conduct and decision-making.
Dhatus, of which there are seven, are the body’s structural building blocks: plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow / nerve and reproductive tissue. Responsible for the functioning of the systems and organs of the body, they are all the potential sites that the bio energies (doshas) can enter to cause disease.
The three doshas or bio energies govern all physiological functions of the body and mind. Ayurveda advocates the importance of maintaining well-balanced doshas in order to enjoy good health and wellbeing.
Each dosha is assigned specific qualities and functions in health and illness. Vata is the prime dosha as it controls other doshas; Pitta represents all transformation processes in the body and mind; and Kapha represents nourishment and protection in the body.
Indriyas (sensory and motor organs) are the tools of the human body that interact with the environment, namely the sense organs, eyes, ears, nostrils, tongue, skin, motor organs, feet, hands, anus and genitalia.
Malas are the body’s metabolic end products, the three main ones being faeces, urine and sweat. Ayurvedic detoxification procedures are extremely effective in clearing waste material.
Disease progression in Ayurveda is explained in six stages, which are collectively called Shad Kriyakala. Individually, they are Chaya(mild increase of a dosha), Prakopa (further increase in dosha, starts to move out of its primary site), Prasara (spreading of imbalanced dosha), Sthanasamsraya (imbalanced dosha lodges in body parts with clogged channels), Vyakthi (produces a disease with all signs and symptoms) and Bheda (disease either cures spontaneously, with time or becomes incurable).
Panchakarma is an intensive Ayurvedic detoxification and cleansing programme that incorporates a series of five elimination treatments to help remove deep-rooted stress and illness-causing toxins from the body.
The prakriti is a person’s individual body constitution. Established at conception, it is viewed as a unique combination of physical and psychological characteristics that affect the way each person functions. By understanding a patient’s basic physical and psychological nature, Ayurvedic doctors can tailor a personal diet and lifestyle that maintains optimum health and peace of mind.
Srotas are the channels that connect the various structures of the body. Important functions of Srotas include carrying nutrients to tissues, waste products to excretory organs etc. Any obstruction or alterations in the functions of Srotas leads to disease. Ayurvedic Panchakarma procedures primarily aim at regaining the normal functioning of Srotas.
TRIGUNA (three Gunas)
Triguna means the three qualities or three energies of the mind. Genetically determined, an individual’s psychological characteristics are dependent on the relative dominance of the three Gunas. When in balance, the three Gunas maintain a healthy mind (and indirectly a healthy body). Any disturbance in this equilibrium results in various types of mental disorders.
Like the doshas, the gunas can be unbalanced by stress, negative desires and the demands of daily life.