Let's talk Ayurveda. Ayur-who? We'll start at square one, considering some of you reading this may not have any experience or understanding of what it is. Perhaps you, like many who have come before, aren't even sure how to pronounce the word! So in this edition of The Human's Corner we'll lay the foundation of this timeless body of knowledge from the East known as Ayurveda. Our hope is to provide valuable "life wisdom" to help you — and of course your dog — live healthier lives aligned more deeply to nature. So that's a great place to begin... with nature itself.
The Five Elements of Nature (Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth) are fundamental to the understanding of Ayurvedic teachings as well as to those of other ancient cultures such as Chinese, Babylonian and Egypt, an impressive roll call.
The Five Elements exist both within and around each one of us and what is true for us is equally true of man’s best friend, indeed of all (living) things. The Five Elements are nature’s building blocks of all creation and define the individuality of every living creature on earth.
Being that we and our dog/s are created from the same elements which are both within us and surround us, then it can be concluded that our actions and our moods, even our thought patterns, are interrelated.
This is the foundation of Ayurveda (pronounced aa-yer-vay-da) which is the oldest healing system on the planet. It incorporates all the layers of life — body, mind and spirit — when outlining a truly heathy, vibrant state of being.
Dependent upon the individual distribution of these five elements, we can define the three fundamental doshas (Sanskrit for body/mind constitution) that are the basis of every "body". The three essential principles are those of movement, transformation and protection.
These doshas are known as:
Vata (Movement: typical traits; creative, imaginative)
Pitta (Transformation: typical traits; volatile, spirited, determined)
Kapha (Protection: typical traits; level-headed, reliable, consistent)
Each dosha has clearly defined physiological and psychological traits that define us as individuals. Ayurveda urges us to strike a balance within these parameters to avoid extremes of actions or thoughts.
[LEARN YOUR DOG'S MIND/BODY PERSONALITY WITH OUR FUN QUIZ AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE]
OK, so we have the principles established. It is not the purpose of this article now to stray in defining each individual’s Mind Body Principles but in subsequent articles we will dive into the characteristics of the Five Elements, their impact upon our dosha and how we can then use this knowledge to optimize our relationship with our furry friends.
The Five Elements (also in Sanskrit)
1 – SPACE (Akasha) Directly related to the Vata dosha
Space has no boundaries, Space is infinite. Space is pure potential and contains EVERYTHING. It is the fundamental building block that underpins our physical world
Space surrounds us and is within us even to the point where it can be defined as the space between our cells and is the medium through which all information and energy flows. Dogs have an acute antennae when it comes to ‘tuning in’ to human emotions.
2 - AIR (Vayu) Directly related to the Vata dosha
This element is present in anything and everything that moves. Externally we could describe it as wind whereas internally it is our breath, our blood flow, our nervous system, in short, our life force.
A lack of balance in our dosha will soon find itself mirrored in that of our dog and, naturally, vice versa.
3 – FIRE (Tejas) This is directly related to the Pitta dosha
Heat, light, power, energy, transformation. Anything that incorporates such items can be classified as fire. Externally it is represented as the sun but internally the most important functions are those related to our digestion. In particular this element plays a fundamental role in our relationship with dogs. The relationship of a dog’s diet to their dosha cannot be over emphasized.
4 – WATER (Jala) This is related to the Kapha dosha
Nature’s connective medium. Our planet as well as our bodies consist of 80% of water. Our bodies source of blood circulation. Again, very important in maintaining a healthy balance for a dog.
5 – EARTH (Prithivi) This is related to the Kapha dosha
This is the structure of the world around us. Externally, the physical mass of all structures, both natural and man-made. Internally, the very structure of our bodies. Our bones, muscles, cartilage etc.
We have now defined the Five Elements and their three corresponding types of dosha.
In upcoming articles we will explore the three doshas, their characteristics and how we can keep them balanced in a constructive way to optimize wellbeing between us and our dogs.
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