What is Ayurveda?
Updated: Jul 12, 2022
Ayurveda (Ah-yer-vey-duh) is one of the world's oldest systems of holistic healing, developed in India thousands of years ago. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda translates to "the knowledge of life" and is based on the belief that wellness depends on a balance between body, mind, and spirit. Ayurveda inspires us to view the intricate interwoven web of life with simple principles that help harmonize our internal and external world.
Ayurveda recognizes five natural elements (Air, Ether, Fire, Water and Earth) as the building blocks of all creation. These elemental energies show up in the human mind and body in varying amounts as three main Doshas: Vata (Air and Ether), Pitta (Fire and Water), and Kapha (Earth and Water). The foundation of Ayurvedic treatment is based on balancing the qualities of these Doshas with their opposites. Continued imbalance of the Doshas aggravate our systems and create dis ease.
Vata exudes the qualities of dry, light, cool, subtle, rough, and mobile and pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. If you are predominantly Vata, (Air and Ether), you may be flexible, have healthy deep prana (breath) and fast energy, creative and quick thinking with a lean and slender angular build. But Ayurveda reminds us that like increases like, so our Vata can become imbalanced when, for example, we continue to eat cold raw food in the cold dry winter months, excessively travel without rest, or continuously overthink, all increasing Ether and Air in our bodies. Too much Vata creates spaciness, rapid uneven breath, anxiety, dry skin and organs, insomnia, and underweight. If you are feeling excess Vata qualities, Ayurveda recommends eating sweet, sour, and salty nourishing foods, herbs, and teas, warm and well-cooked foods at regular meal times, using healthy warming oils like sesame, donning warm clothes, and practicing regular deep calm breath and slow conscious movement.
Kapha qualities include cold, moist, heavy, dull, static, smooth, dense, oily, soft, and sweet, sour, salty tastes. If you are predominantly Kapha (Earth and Water), you may have soft radiant skin, regular digestion, a calm and patient loving nature with strong bones and a solid curvy build. But our Kapha can become imbalanced when, for example, we continue to eat very heavy dense foods in the Spring, when nature is asking us to lighten our digestion, or if we focus on heavy thoughts and stop exercising when we are already overweight or depressed, increasing Water and Earth in our bodies. Too much Kapha creates slow sluggish digestion, fluid retention, heavy depression, overweight, and stubborn resistance to change. If you are feeling excess Kapha qualities, Ayurveda recommends eating pungent, bitter, and astringent foods, herbs, and teas, food with energizing qualities, like salads and raw vegetables and fruits, lighter meals without snacking, and enjoying vigorous toning regular exercise to build internal fire and routine movement.
Pitta qualities include oily, sharp, hot, light, liquid, mobile, clear, and salty, sour, and pungent tastes. If you are predominantly Pitta (Fire and Water), you may have quick metabolism and good circulation, strong focus and intellect, a joyous courageous and driven personality, and have a lean athletic build. But our Pitta can become imbalanced when, for example we lay in the hot sun while eating hot spicy food, or continuously focus with narrow sharp angry judgement, uncaring of the bigger picture. Excess Pitta can lead to heartburn, acid reflux, inflammation, rashes, ulcers, anger, jealousy,“burn out,” and spreading yourself too thin. If you are feeling excess Pitta qualities, Ayurveda recommends eating sweet, bitter, astringent and cooling foods, herbs, and teas, implementing soft focus and surrender, and calm exercise like tai chi, swimming, and walking.
Everyone has all three doshas with their varying qualities, but usually one is inherently dominant from birth. Ayurvedic consultations can help you understand, tune, and balance your unique elemental constitution with herbs, diet, yoga, and lifestyle. Deeply journeying with yourself in this way allows you to become your own healer. Ayurveda, the original circadian medicine, offers a simple yet profound way to resolve dis ease and disconnect by accessing innate natural intelligence, which leads to a deep harmony between people and Earth. If you're interested in learning your unique dosha and how to balance yourself, contact me for an Ayurvedic consultation!