Ayurveda is an ancient Indian practice of holistic medical care that centers on the equilibrium of mind, body and soul. At the core of Ayurvedic medicine are the srotas, or shrotas, an interconnected web of bodily functions said to conduct a healing, sacred energy from head to toe. To improve the srotas' circulation of this energy, yoga, diet and herbal remedies combine to help each person achieve longevity.
The srotas, which means channels, are often thought to be different parts of the body's transportation system — at least 16 segments in all. Some carry nutrients to the cells, others deliver oxygenated blood or adipose tissues. All interlace to either supply dhatu, or elemental matter, or to escort malas, or garbage, to the door.
Three of these components, called udaka vaha, anna vaha and prana vaha, are associated with a body's intake of environmental elements — carrying water, food and air, respectively. Another three are concerned with carrying waste away — sweda vaha carrying sweat, purisha vaha carrying the feces, and mutra vaha carrying the urine. These srotas are often maintained by employing hygienic practices, proper diet, herbal digestive remedies, and some yogic breathing exercises or meditation.
The rest of the srotas are devoted to specific internal functions, in a symbiotic harmony. The asthi vaha brings nutrients to the bones and takes waste away; whereas, the majja vaha makes marrow inside the bones as well as new cells in the brain. Wherever cellular constructs travel, they are conducted by a specific srota — rasa vaha controls plasma and lymph action, masma vaha brings nutrients to the muscles and carries their waste away, rakta vaha carries oxygenated blood throughout the body, meda vaha manufactures adipose fat, and shukra vaha is responsible for egg or sperm production. Some scholars also subscribe to a final grouping of srota — mana vaha regulate the knowledge and emotion, artava vaha oversee menstruation, and stanya vaha are in charge of lactation.
Ayurvedic practitioners will interview and examine patients in an attempt to determine which srotas are blocked. Then, a variety of yogic exercises, nutritional changes and clean living practices may be prescribed to boost the effectiveness of the problem areas. From a preventative health perspective, many follow Ayurvedic tradition by eating fresh, diverse diets in moderation, while regularly practicing a regimen of yoga exercises, each with a slightly different effect on a particular srota of the body.