Ayurveda Glossary



Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic massage with natural oils. Its purpose is to restore and maintain balance of one’s doshas. In addition, abhyanga can increase softness of the skin, strengthen body tissues, increase strength, and promote a good night’s sleep. The oil used is based on Ayurvedic body type. For example, Vata types should use a warming oil like sesame oil or almond oil. Pitta types should use a cooling oil such as coconut or olive oil. Kapha types should use a warming mustard or sunflower oil.


Agni is the concept of our digestive fire. In Ayurveda it is one of the most critically looked at elements when it comes to our overall health and wellness.


Amalaki (also called Amla or Indian Gooseberry) is a vitamin and mineral rich fruit that is used as an essential healer in Ayurveda. Amalaki feeds the skin vital nutrients, which help to produce a natural glow and brighten the complexion. Carotene and iron rich, amalaki can also reduce hair loss by preventing free radicals from damaging follicles. It can enhance the natural color of the hair, remove dead cells, and restore moisture to the scalp. Amalaki contains large amounts of vitamin C and helps to pacify the doshas Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It also promotes detoxification by improving the diet, and balancing the agni, or digestive fire.


Also known as winter cherry and Indian ginseng, the ashwagandha root has been used for thousands of years as a powerful adaptogenic. It is best for balancing the Vata dosha. This rejuvenative herb helps the body to combat stress, promote stamina and induce natural energy. As a body-balancing herb, it can help to fight insomnia and anxiety, as well as promote a clear mind and memory. 


This age-old Ayurvedic remedy is named after Brahman, one of the highest states of consciousness. Brahmi is known as a powerful brain tonic in Ayurvedic medicine used to combat stress, improve focus and concentration, and jog the memory. It also supports relaxation, calms emotions, and helps with restful sleep. In addition, brahmi is useful in clearing the skin and enabling smooth operation of the joints. Massaging it into the scalp can support healthy hair growth as well as a sharp alertness.



This essential Ayurvedic health supplement relies on the amla fruit for a good source of its healing and immunity-boosting power. Chyawanprash is a concentrated blend of about fifty botanicals, herbs, and minerals that traditionally comes in a jam-like consistency. nutrient-rich herbs and minerals. The dried extracts of rich botanicals, such as brahmi, arjun, ashwagandha, and saffron, are mixed with ghee, honey, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and other spices, which give this sticky, rich substance a spicy, sweet flavor. Chyawanprash is touted to help invigorate our ojas and support overall vitality.


Dharma, also known as our “purpose of life” is the unique gift we were each born to fully express and carry our in our lives.


Ayurveda believes that all matter is made up of five primal elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Ether. These elements manifest in our environment and in the human body as three principles—also known as doshas. The three doshas are: Vata (Ether and Air), Pitta (Fire and Water) and Kapha (Earth and Water). These three doshas—Vata-Pitta-Kapha—govern all the biological and psychological functions of the body and mind. Illnesses—of the skin, body, mind, or spirit—are created from an imbalance in these principles.


Ghee is clarified butter originating from ancient India. It is essential in supporting the digestive fire, or agni. A staple in both Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking, ghee is used to calm the mind, promote a healthy digestive tract, and boost the immune system. Its oily nature is crucial for hydration and for balancing Vata and Pitta doshas. Rich in vitamins A, E, D, and K, ghee can also promote bone and brain health, as well as foster overall wellness.

Jihwa prakshalana

Jihwa prakshalana (also known as tongue scraping) is a prominent part of an Ayurvedic self-care routine. It’s an easy ritual that takes only a minute or so, but can have profound impacts on digestion and overall wellbeing.  Overnight a build-up of food, fungi, dead cells, bacteria, and other toxins forms on your tongue–which is why it is common to wake with sour breath. The body's intention is to expel these debris, but without the proper oral hygiene the toxins can be reabsorbed into the tongue and the body, potentially causing imbalances, digestive problems, acne, and other health issues. Gently scraping the tongue helps to remove these toxins. Studies show it also significantly helps to reduce the microbial loads on the tongue and greatly improve sensation and taste, enhance the experience of eating, and reduce bad breath.


Kapha is the Ayurvedic dosha made up of the elements of water and earth. Its meaning is: That which sticks. Kapha is expressed and understood through stability, groundedness and attachment. 

If you have a Kapha constitution, you will have the qualities representative of earth and water. As such, the kapha types will have a solid bodily frame and a more calm temperament. Kapha skin tends to be thick, oily, cool and pale. It is prone to oiliness because of its thick, smooth nature. Toxins accumulate under the skin and eventually force their way out, resulting in irritation and eruptions. For Kapha skin, it is crucial to detox—both externally and internally—regularly. The Kapha personality type trends toward reserved and laid back.


Panchakarma is an intense, immersive Ayurvedic process aimed to detoxify and rejuvenate the mind, body, and spirit. It consists of five steps, which includes various purifying treatments such as warm herbal oil massages, a cleansing diet, steam therapy—all catered to balance your dosha. Panchakarma is conducted at a facility under the supervision of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner and can last between several days to three weeks. 


Pitta is the Ayurvedic dosha made up of the elements of fire and water. Its meaning is: That which transforms things. Pitta is expressed and understood through illumination, transformation, and heat. 

If you have a Pitta constitution, you will have the qualities representative of fire and water. Pitta skin is typically smooth, oily, warm and rosy. It is usually very sensitive and is easily burned by sun exposure. It needs to stay cool or else an imbalance can lead to rashes, acne and inflammation relatively easily. Pitta types are also more inclined to an ambitious, intense personality type, and react with anger and jealousy in emotional situations.


Our natural constitution, which is our unique combination of the doshas, is called Prakruti. In Ayurveda, identifying and honoring our Prakruti is essential to health and wellbeing as this is how we maintain balance. our Prakruti includes all the incredible nuances that make you you—from your eye color to your fears to your body size to your personality traits.


Pranayama consists of a series of breathing exercises in relation to yoga. In Sanskrit, “prana” means life force and “yama” means discipline. Pranayama, therefore, means controlling the life force. It integrates the body, mind and spirit and reduces the toxins from the body. Aside from expelling toxins, pranayama re-energizes the body, helps smooth digestion and metabolism, and sharpens focus. By doing so, pranayama also relaxes the body and brings peace to the mind, promoting better self control.


Shatavari, used for centuries in Ayurveda as a rejuvenative aid for the reproductive system functions, is translated as “having one hundred roots”. It was traditionally used to support women of all ages transitioning through the natural phases of bodily changes, including menstruation and menopause. Shatavari can promote healthy levels of breast milk production, soothe the digestive tract, support healthy bowel movements, balance hormone levels, and support the immune system. In Ayurveda, it is also used to balance the pitta and vata doshas, as well as to balance bodily fluids. In addition, shatavari can soothe dry and irritated respiratory tracts, making it useful for issues such as bronchitis.


Shilajit is made up of sticky, tar-like resin substance that oozes out of the mountainous regions in the hot summer sun. This nutrient rich biomass has traditionally been known in Ayurvedic medicine as the best carrier of energy. It is abundant in fulvic and humic acids, two of the main substances responsible for energy production with the cell. Also known as “rock invincible” and the “Destroyer of Weakness”, shilajit is also made up of dibenzo alpha pyrones, responsible for deep rejuvenation and energy production by driving oxygen and nutrients into the cell. As a natural antioxidant, it can help the body rid itself of free radicals. In addition, shilajit has been shown to improve symptoms in issues such as chronic bronchitis, anemia, urinary tract disorders, jaundice and mental decline.

Shikakai This Ayurvedic medicinal plant has been traditionally used for hair care. The fruit, leaves, and bark are ground and turned into a paste, which is then used to treat skin related issues such as scabies, dry skin, dandruff, and itchy skin. Used as a hair wash, shampoo or hair pack, shikakai can help to add shine and lustre to hair, as well as detangle and soften. Aside from stimulating hair growth, shikakai can also nourish the scalp with its anti-fungal properties.

Found in many Ayurvedic traditions, triphala means “three fruits”. It can be used as a detoxifying agent and bowel tonic as well as a digestive agent by promoting peristalsis. Triphala can also be used as a powerful antioxidant and to help support healthy respiratory, cardiovascular, urinary, and nervous system functions. The three fruits involved in creating triphala include amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. Amalaki has a cooling effect that manages the pitta dosha. Bibhitaki is good for the kapha dosha and supports the respiratory system. Haritaki is good for all three doshas and has a detoxifying effect.


Vata is the Ayurvedic dosha made up of the elements of ether and air. Its meaning is: That which moves things. Vata is expressed and understood through movement, expansiveness, and lightness.


If you have a Vata constitution, you will have the physical and mental qualities that represent the elements of space and air. Vata skin tends to be thin, dry, cold, rough and dark. It dries quickly and is especially vulnerable to shifts in weather. This skin type must be protected from harsh heat and cold, as well as pampered to retain its natural oils and moisture. It is important to avoid hot water baths as they can dry your skin out. Be sure to use pH balanced soaps and drink lots of water for hydration from the inside out. Vata types are also quick thinking and fast moving. Their personality type falls along the vivacious, talkative and outgoing type and they usually have trouble gaining weight.

The Vedas

The wisdom of Ayurveda—which originated more than 5000 years ago—was first passed along orally before it was written down in texts. These ancient books, known as The Vedas, are the original Sanskrit texts of Ayurveda.