Ayurveda and Jyotish: An Astrological Approach to Well-being

I previously wrote about how the sister sciences of Ayurveda, Jyotish (Vedic or Eastern Astrology),  Yoga, Sanskrit and Vaastu Shastra.  Two sciences which are inexorably woven together are Ayurveda and Jyotish.  While astrology can take a lifetime to truly master, people inevitably are curious about “what my chart says” and “how my future looks”.  The most common questions that I receive are regarding relationships, career, and finances.  Yet, a common tenet in the Vedas is that health is the greatest measure of wealth.  Without our health and vitality, it’s difficult for people to work productively, maintain harmony within ourselves, and conserve resources effectively.  When well-being is not present, then we can exert a lot of time, energy, and finances on the pursuit of our health.  This can often distract us from focusing on other arenas of our lives.

Everything in the universe is intertwined.  Ayurveda is based on the theory of the five elements (the pancha mahabhutas): ether, air, fire, water, and earth.  Vata, the principle of movement is made up of ether and air.  Pitta, the energy of digestion and assimilation, is comprised of fire and water.  And Kapha, the energy of structure and lubrication, is formed from water and earth.  In Jyotish, we also classify each sign of the zodiac, as well the planets, with an associated element.  Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are the fires signs; Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are Earth signs; Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are Air signs; Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are Water signs.  Sun and Mars are Pitta planets; Jupiter is Kapha; Saturn is Vata; the Moon and Venus = Kapha and Vata; Mercury is all 3 doshas.   Someone with many planets in water signs may be emotional and sensitive, while someone else with planets in fire signs may be much for action-oriented and one who takes a great deal of time to articulate their emotions.  Astrological compatibility between individuals (romantically, professionally, or within a family) will depend on the interplay of the planets and houses amongst two charts.

The ascendant or first house of a person’s horoscope, which is dependent on a person’s time of birth, gives shape to a person’s personality and their physicality.  While there is no substitute for pulse diagnosis in assessing a person’s constitution and their current imbalance (prakruti and vikruti), the nature of an individual’s first house will certainly help define the person’s physical tendencies and Ayurvedic constitution.  For example, if a person has a Leo ascendant (which means that their first house spans from 0° to 30° Leo), and Sun and Mars are in the ascendant, then we would certainly expect the person to have Pitta predominant in their constitution.  The person may be prone to Pitta disorders, such as hives, rashes, inflammation, and acid indigestion. We would also examine what other planets are aspecting the ascendant as well as what planetary cycle a person is experiencing.

There are twelve constellations of the zodiac.  Each sign of the zodiac as well as each house corresponds to a particular body part. Aries and the first house represent the head and face. Taurus and the second house represent the throat, Gemini and the third house represent the shoulders and ears…and so the flow of body goes with Pisces and the twelfth house representing the feet.  Unless one has an Aries ascendant, Aries is not the first house, so it requires careful interpretation on the part of a trained astrologer to know which body parts may have health challenges, and at what periods of time.

Aside from the first house (ascendant or rising sign), a trained astrologer also looks at the sixth house in a chart for acute health issues, the eighth house for chronic health issues, and the twelfth house for periods which may require hospitalization or retreat from society.  Having planets in or aspecting any of these houses does not in itself indicate that there will be ill health.  The inherent strength of each planet and house has to be examined, as do planetary cycles and transits.   Additionally, the divisional or harmonic charts which relate to health must be scrutinized to see when health challenges may occur.  Ideally, if a person is prepared for periods where there may low vitality, then they can augment this with Ayurvedic herbs and lifestyle regimens specific to their needs.  Ayurveda is both preventative and curative so this guidance may be even more beneficial if applied when astrological periods deem that vigilant attention to one’s health is necessary.

Ayurveda also places great emphasis on the qualities or gunas that correspond with each dosha.  Sun, Saturn, and Mars are dry planets, while Jupiter, Moon, and Venus are wet, and Saturn is windy.  If dry planets primarily influence the ascendant, then the person may be prone to dryness; if it is mainly wet planets, then the person may have issues with bloating or circulation of fluids within the body.  This information can be used in conjunction with the correlations of body parts to each house, to determine which parts of the anatomy may be prone to specific health conditions.  The second house represents the mouth, and an astrologer can discern the type of food that an individual eats by examining the second house.  Dry planets placed in the second house, as well as dry planets transiting the second house for an extended period of time, will cause hoarseness, sore throats, gas, and even constipation (the result of eating too much dry food).  Vata will be aggravated accordingly.

Knowledge of what bodily systems are weak or prone to illness can empower to take better care of our lives with appropriate diet, counseling, and exercise. There are yoga asanas that are specific to each of the doshas as well as to particular organs, which can be used to tone and maintain the body.  Each of us may have health challenges that we face within our lifetimes, but we can use the tools found in the Vedas to be proactive, rather than reactive, in maintaining with our well-being so that we can lead a harmonious life each day.