What is Ayurveda?
Ayur = life force or vital energy
Veda = science
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of what makes us alive. It is the sister science to yoga and like yoga it has been around for 5000 years and shares the same goals as yoga: health, longevity and enlightenment. When we have an understanding of Ayurveda, we can stay in balance physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
We are all different
According to Ayurveda, everything that exists in the universe is made up of the five elements; earth, water, fire, air and space (ether). All that exists in the universe, exists within us. We all contain these same five elements in different amounts. When prana, the energetic equivalent of breath, mixes with the five elements, the doshas are formed. There are three doshas or constitutions: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
The qualities of the three doshas and how they function in our being.
Vata dosha is formed when prana mixes with the elements air and space. Vata governs all movement. The qualities of Vata are light, dry. airy, quick, and cold. Vata people are very tall or little. They are thin and either tall or short. They have asymmetrical features. When Vata people are in balance, they are creative and easily adaptable. They have a great way with words. When Vata people are out of balance, this leads to fear and anxiety.
Pitta, heat, is made up of the elements fire and water. Pitta governs digestion, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. The qualities of Pitta are hot, sour, pungent, sharp and acidic. Pitta people have strong digestion. Their build is athletic. When Pittas are in balance, they are intelligent, cerebral and sharp. When out of balance, they are hot and easily angered. Pittas tend toward rashes.
Kapha which is the flesh body or the mucus body and is made up of the elements earth and water. Kapha is our bones, muscles, teeth and everything dense in our bodies. The qualities of Kapha are slow, steady, heavy, oily, and cold. When Kapha people are in balance, kapha people are loving, nurturing and grounded. When out of balance, they are needy, melancholy and heavy in body and mind.
You can take a questionnaire to determine your dosha; however, the best way is to have a professional Ayurvedic practitioner read your pulse.
Just like we contain all of the elements, we all contain Vata, Pitta and Kapha as well, but in varying degrees. Our dosha is determined at the time of conception. This is our constitution or our Prakriti which we are born with and it never varies. It is like our thumbprint. Most people are dominant in two of the doshas. It is more rare to be tridoshic, to have equal amounts of all three doshas.
Vikriti is our condition. Depending on where we live and our lifestyle, our condition can get out of balance. Once we know our condition (vikriti) we use food, herbs, diet and lifestyle changes to align our condition with our constitution and when they are aligned, we experience optimal health and peace in life. F
Balancing your condition with your constitution
Keep in mind that in order to balance your dosha, it is the opposite qualities that do this. The seasons and times of days as well as times of life are all also governed by the doshas. As we come into the summer months, we are in the Pitta season. If you feel yourself getting overheated in your body or hotheaded and critical, cut up some cool mango and sprinkle it with fresh coconut and light a jasmine scented candle in order to help balance Pitta dosha.
A grasp of the incredible science of Ayurveda helps us to look at our friends, spouses, bosses/employees and children to see why this one is so chatty and that one is so intense and the other seems a little lazy. It gives us perspective into the lives of others to see that all people are unique and need to be treated differently. Most importantly it shines a light on us and helps us to understand ourselves.