What in the world is Ayurveda?
The relationship between our body and the elements
Ayurveda is a complete system of medicine from India which translates to Ayur (life) and Veda (science). Developed by ancient sages hundreds of thousands of years ago and passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition. Ayurveda addresses the individual connection of our mind and body with the world. It focuses both disease prevention and treatment through food/diet, herbs, yoga and pranayama (breathing practices) in order to bring our body to its natural state of balance.
Ayurveda states that our body is made up of Panchamahabhuta or the five elements: Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Ether (space). Each individual possesses a combination of different levels of these elements which make up the three Doshas: Vata( Air + Space), Pitta ( Fire + Water) and Kapha (Earth + Water). Each of us possesses different levels of these doshas which are determined first at conception known as Prakruti or nature, then through our lifestyles there may be deviations which becomes our Vikruti or current state. Ayurveda assesses the deviation and works to restore the balance to our true nature through diet, lifestyle, yoga, meditation, pranayama, herbs and therapies.
What is your Dosha?
Each Doshic type has particular set of traits and is traditionally determined by a trained Vaidya (Ayurvedic Physician) who uses pulse reading, assessment of the physical body type and listening to the health concerns and symptoms. These days you can get a general idea by observing your physical and mental state, current symptoms and even taking a Dosha Quiz. You will find that once you understand the qualities of the Dosas they become very easy to identify and find remedies for, in Ayurveda, like increases like and the opposite is the medicine.
Vata: Air + Space
Vata Dosha governs all movement in the body and is responsible for elimination of waste from the body, breathing, flow of blood and movement of thoughts and activities in the nervous system. Vata qualities are dry, quick moving, light, rough, cold. irregular. Physical characteristics of Vata are a thin, angular and agile frame, small, fast moving eyes with a tendency to have dry skin and hair with cold hands and proneness to digestive sensitivity. Emotionally Vata in balance will be creative, enthusiastic, joyful, talkative and Vata in excess will result in restlessness, nervousness, anxiety, fear and forgetfulness. Vata requires warmth, nourishment, routine to be grounded.
Pitta: Fire+ Water
Pitta dosha governs the transformation in the mind & body, it is responsible for digestion and heat. Pitta helps to digest and metabolism our food, thoughts and feelings. Pitta qualities are sharp, penetrating, hot, oily, intense and pungent. Physical characteristics of Pitta are sturdy, medium built frame with lustrous hair and skin, sharp eyes that are sensitive to light and excellent digestion. Emotionally balanced Pittas are natural leaders, decision makers, direct with a sharp wit and out of balance Pitta will tend to be angry, judgemental and critical. Pitta requires calm,cool, sweet and balance to be entered.
Kapha: Earth + Water
Kapha dosha governs the growth and lubrication in the body, it helps grow and form all tissues. Kapha qualities are heavy, cool, oily,soft, steady and slow. Physical characteristics of Kapha are a strong and sturdy body with great sustenance. Kapha people will have thick, oily, lustrous hair and skin with large eyes and thick eyelashes. Emotionally balanced Kaphas are generous, kind, loving, thoughtful, patient, loyal and calm. Kapha in excess causes attachment, grief, sadness, depression and stubbornness. Kapha needs warmth, routine and stimulation of the senses and mind to stay in flow.
In western medicine disease is mainly treated by resolving the multitude of symptoms, Ayurveda looks to address the root cause which lies in either excess or lack of a dosha(s). When I began to understand the qualities of the Doshas and identifying the root cause rather than be overwhelmed by my symptoms, I felt a sense of relief and control over my own health and wellness. Understanding Ayurveda helps connect you to the nature living within you and around you. It gives you the wisdom and decision making ability in your daily life which contributes to longevity and freedom from disease.