The Four Pillars of Ayurveda

Definition - What does The Four Pillars of Ayurveda mean?

The Four Pillars of Ayurveda are four fundamental elements of health that are considered in Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga) to be necessary for well-being. Different teachings list slightly different four topics, but they can be food, sleep, exercise and emotional wellness. An alternative list of four considers them to be sleep, digestion, elimination and purification, while many teachings instead refer to the “Three Pillars of Ayurveda” as being food, sleep and love or sexual relationships.

Whatever the denotation of the pillars, the basic concept is the same: In order to heal, Ayurveda teaches that redirecting attention back to our simple and natural patterns is far more effective than more drastic medical procedures for promoting wellness.

Yogapedia explains The Four Pillars of Ayurveda

It is said that if the Four Pillars of Ayurveda are attended to and balanced, it would be difficult for illness or disease to arise. They should create the conditions for optimal health.

Each of the Four Pillars plays a different, but interconnected role in well-being:

  1. Food — Freshly prepared, locally sourced food is advocated by Ayurveda. Teachings also warn against over-eating. Food should be one aspect of more holistic nourishment for the body.
  2. Sleep — Ayurveda teaches that it is essential to get the right amount of quality sleep at night. Sleeping during the day, except for the very young or the infirm, is discouraged. It is recommended that a person maintains a consistent bedtime and waking time to ensure the body is in a healthy routine.
  3. Exercise — Moderate intensity daily exercise is recommended by Ayurvedic teachings, especially regular walking in nature.
  4. Emotional wellness — This can be cultivated through finding personal satisfaction in one’s work, or through an appreciation of art, literature or nature. It may also be supported by meditation, and can link with one of the other pillars of love in that connection with others promotes emotional well-being.

Through focusing on the Four Pillars, Ayurveda encourages people to develop their self-awareness and thus be better placed to make positive lifestyle changes.

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