What is Ayurveda
“The Knowledge of Life”
Ayus: Life - Veda: Knowledge
Ayurveda is the 5000 years old holistic medical system of India. It is considered the mother of all medical systems, including Allopathic and Surgery. Where traditional medicine treats the symptoms of a disease, Ayurveda treats the whole person - body, mind, and spirit.
Ayurveda looks to the root cause of imbalance and treats the patient with individualized holistic modalities, which affect all of the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Balance is cultivated through food programs, herbology, massage, aromatherapy, color and sound therapies, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and other lifestyle adjustments.
Ayurveda is based on the premise that the universe is made up of five great elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. These elements are represented in humans by a combination of three "doshas", or energies, called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. One’s natural balance of the doshas is established at conception and is called “Prakriti”.
Vata “The Energy of Movement”
The Vata dosha is made up of the air and ether elements and is much like the wind - light, cool, dry, and mobile. Being predominantly air, Vata is also the motivating force behind the other two doshas, which are incapable of movement. People with Vata natures are physically light, their bones are thin and their skin and hair are dry. They often move, think and speak quickly and, when out of balance, they tend to lose weight, can become constipated and are inclined to weakness in the immune and nervous systems. They tend to be talkative, enthusiastic, creative and energetic, but when out of balance, they become easily confused and overwhelmed have difficulty focusing, making decisions and sleeping. This becomes more apparent when they are under stress, they are challenged by cool emotions like worry, fear, and anxiety. In order to bring balance to Vata, programs are designed that emphasize the qualities of warmth, heaviness, moistness, and stability. In the diet, this includes the consumption of cooked grains and vegetables, as well as warm milk and spices.
Pitta “The Energy of Digestion & Transformation”
The Pitta dosha is made up of the Fire and Water elements. Fire is predominant and relates to the transformation, metabolism and digestive qualities which govern the mental digestion, capacity to perceive reality and the ability to understand things as they are. Pitta has a tendency to being hot, sharp and penetration. Physically they tend to feel warm, can have oily skin, penetrating eyes, sharp features, moderate weight, and good musculature. When out of balance they can have diarrhea, infections, and skin rashes with liver and blood weaknesses. The Pitta personality tends to be highly focused, competitive, capable, courageous, energetic and clear and concise communicators. They like to solve problems. When under stress they dig in their heels, can become intense speak sharply. Emotionally, they can have heated emotions of anger, resentment, and jealousy. To bring balance to Pitta, programs are designed to emphasize qualities of coolness, heaviness, and dryness. Cooler foods and spices such as cooked vegetables, rice, wheat, and beans along with sweeter and cooler herbs are nourishing to the body and bring overall balance.
Kapha “The Energy of Lubrication”
The Kapha dosha is the water and earth elements and tends to be cool, moist, stable, and heavy. Physically, they tend to be dense, with large bones, low metabolism, and large features. When out of balance, they are prone to weight gain, respiratory weakness and accumulation of mucus. The Kapha personality has a heavy, stable nature a steady personality that is not prone to changes or quick fluctuations. They tend to handle stress very well, often not even noticing that it exists. They are comfort seekers, which relates to their soft, watery nature. When out of balance, they experience heavier emotions such as depression, complacency, and lethargy. In order to bring balance to the Kapha nature, we use opposing qualities of lightness, dryness, and warmth. Grains such as quinoa and amaranth are recommended as well as warmer spices, lots of vegetables with very little dairy, nuts or added fats.
Health and disease are viewed as the result of how we interact with our environment, there are many factors, both internal and external, which can disturb one’s natural balance of the doshas. These include emotional and physical stresses, diet and food choices, seasons and weather, physical trauma, work and family relationships.
The first step to creating balance in one’s life is the understanding of one’s constitution, and identification of factors creating imbalance. Balance is achieved in Ayurveda by healing through opposites for example, if one is overheated, therapies may be cooling in nature. Excessive moisture may need to be dried out. If life is fast-paced, it may need to slow down. If digestion is sluggish, it may need to be stimulated. Routine can bring regularity to other health issues.
The awareness gained from understanding one’s constitution is the essence of Ayurveda and providing the tools to create balance and harmony in life. Ayurveda places great attention on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health by finding one’s true balance of body, mind and spirit.