How well do you know yourself? Do you understand why you have dry skin, or acne? Why you can’t lose those last five pounds, or suffer from ulcers, IBS, or consitpation? How much does nutrition affect you? All of these questions can be answered with Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old comprehensive and scientific approach to health and wellness. The word ‘Ayurveda’ is a Sanskrit term that means ‘the science of life and longevity.’ Literally, Ayur = Life and Veda = Science of knowledge.
Focusing on prevention, Ayurveda encompasses body, mind, and spirit. It examines your constitution/body type, occupation, relationships, nutrition and exercise habits, the external environment, the season of the year, and your daily routines. As a holistic system of natural medicine, it does not focus on curing symptoms, but rather on preventing illness and disease by building a way of life that creates health and happiness.
In Ayurveda, health is described as a perfect state of balance among the bodies three fundamental energies, or doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), and an equally vital balance among body, mind, and soul.
Doshas and the 5 elements:
At the moment of conception, an individual constitution is created by the universal energies of ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth. Just like our planet, each of us contains these five elements in our body, creating a micro ecosystem that mimics the earth. The five elements combine into the three fundamental energies/doshas.
Ether and air constitute VATA, which is the energy of movement. Vata season is fall. Fire and water constitute PITTA, which is the energy of digestion and metabolism, the transformation of matter into energy. Its season is spring into summer. Water and earth make up Kapha, the energy of structure and lubrication, and its season is winter into spring.
We each have all three doshas in our makeup. Typically one is dominant, sometimes two are equally strong. Like our planet, our interior ecosystem can experience all kinds of weather – – floods, drought, volcanic eruptions, and even perfect calm.
**I relate the doshas to the chakra system as well: Vata (ether + air) consists of the upper chakras of communication, intuition, and cosmic connection. Pitta (fire + water) is the middle chakras – heart and solar plexus. Kapha (earth + water) is made up of the lower sacral and root chakras.
Changes in age, the external environment, the seasons, and the quality and quantity of food we eat, continuously affects our consitition and dominant dosha. Unhealthy diet, excess stress, insufficient rest or exercise, trauma, disease, and repressed emotions all disturb our day-to-day balance. This can alter our dominant dosha and create a temporary imbalance,
General characteristics of each dosha:
Vata is intimately related to our vital life essence, known as prana. Prana is the pure essence of the life force, the play of intelligence. As the principle of mobility, Vata regulates all activity in the body, both mental and physiological. It’s responsible for our breath and the beating of our hearts. All the impulses in the networks of our nervous system are governed by it. When in balance, it promotes creativity and flexibility, and invokes feelings of freshness, lightness, happiness, and joy. Out of balance, it produces fear, nervousness, anxiety, tremors and spasms.
Vata is dry, light, cold, subtle, clear, mobile, and dispersing.
Pitta is translated as fire, and encompasses the principles of heat and metabolism. It governs all the bio chemical changes that take place within our bodies which regulate digestion, absorption, assimilation, and temperature. Pitta comprises the enzymes and amino acids we need for metabolism. It regulates body temperature and promotes appetite and vitality. Impressions coming in from outside of us are also processed, or digested, and made a part of us. When in balance, Pitta promotes intelligence and understanding, and is crucial in learning. Out of balance, it may arouse fiery emotions such as frustration, anger, hatred, criticism, and jealousy.
Pitta is hot, sharp, light, oily, liquid, pungent, sour, and spreading.
Kapha is the energy that forms the bodies structure, the glue that holds the cells together. It supplies the liquid needed for the life of our cells and bodily systems. It lubricates our joints, moisturizes our skin, and aids in healing wounds. It also maintains immunity, and provides strength, vigor, and stability. In balance, it expresses itself toward love, calmness, and forgiveness. When out of balance, emotions such as attachment, greed, lust, and envy arise.
Kapha is heavy, slow, cool, oily, damp, smooth, soft, static, viscous, and sweet.
When pacifying/nourishing the doshas, keep in mind that like increases like and opposites decrease each other.
So what is your dosha? How can the age-old system of Ayurveda help you find balance and ease in your body? If you’d like to take the dosha quiz and get tips and suggestions to make you healthier and happier, I can help. When you sign up for my Know Your Dosha package, you’ll receive key lifestyle guidelines, a list of foods that are good for you (and some to avoid), and a set of yoga asanas to balance and nourish yourself with every day.