Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science and philosophy of health, which originated some four to five thousand years ago. It is part of a body of Hindu texts, known as the VEDAS, which were written by enlightened sages. The contents and knowledge contained in the Vedas were initially passed from the sages to interested disciples in oral form, and many years later, began to be written down. Ayurveda helps us to understand our mind, body and spiritual makeup, and learn how we might uniquely respond to the food we eat, our exercise, the time of day, time of year, our stage of life, and relationship to self and others. It shows us our place in the universe, and our relationship with Nature. We are in a period of imbalance, both individually and societally, and modern life’s frenetic pace brings challenges that many people are unable to overcome. Ayurveda helps us to understand ourselves, and our place in the world. It guides us to make measured, considered choices that will positively impact our balance, and thus bring greater joy to our lives, and the lives or others.

The Doshas

The philosophy of Ayurveda suggests that the universe is an interaction of the five elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth, which are grouped into three functional principles, called Doshas. These are Vata (ether and air) Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (earth and water). They are present in everybody and everything, and can be described through their inherent Gunas (qualities).

The Doshas, and each of their 5 subtypes, have specific roles and sites within the body and mind. When in their normal state quantitatively and qualitatively, they maintain equilibrium, but as soon as they are out of balance, they can affect the deeper tissues, and potentially cause disease.
We all have a unique constitution, made up of different proportions of all three Doshas. However, whilst two people may be Vata dominant, they will not necessarily present with the same symptoms, or suffer from the same imbalances. This is because whilst one person may have more of the ‘cold’ quality of Vata, another may present more of the ‘mobile quality’. We are all unique, and this is why some people have more of a predisposition to a particular disease than others.

The Gunas – Qualities

In Ayurveda, the principle of ‘like increase like’ and ‘opposites decrease one another’ is key to the treatment of imbalances. There are 10 opposite pairs of qualities, for example, hot and cold, heavy and light, mobile and static. Each quality is made up predominantly of two elements. When we seek to re-balance and bring about equilibrium, we observe the qualities that have become vitiated within the body and mind, and carefully introduce the opposite ones to readjust.

Agni- The Digestive Fire

Hugely significant in Ayurveda, Agni is the fire found in every aspect of transformation in the body and mind. It is responsible for digestion, absorption, assimilation, and conversion of foods, and emotions into energy. Many holistic health issues are caused by digestive disturbances, which seem to be common in many people, and are the result of consuming ultra processed foods, ready meals, takeaways, carbonated drinks, and excess alcohol, as well as the suppression of emotions. All of these not only cause imbalances in the gut, but also a build-up of toxins, which can enter the system, creating inflammation, and a cascade of damaging effects on our health. It is vital to optimise gut health before attempting to fix any other perceived imbalances.


Ayurveda’s philosophy places huge importance on food. However, nutrition is seen in a way that no other system of health sees it. It is finally becoming clear to many western clinicians, just how crucial wholesome food is, but Ayurveda delves deeper into what, when, why, how, we eat. Foods in themselves, are not going to be healthy if they are not eaten in the right way. The ancient Ayurvedic texts devote many chapters to the importance of correct nutrition choices for maintaining health, and achieving optimum immunity. Ayurveda’s idea of nutrition does not include calories, which are meaningless when it comes to eating well. Again, the qualities within foods are the key to how they might benefit us, or otherwise. Ayurveda considers correct eating habits to be key to balance of the mind, body and spirit.