Ayurveda is an Eastern Indian medical system based off of the foundations of conscious, self-awareness and natural healing that has been practiced for over 5,000 years and is literately translated as “the science of daily life.” Very different from the Western aspect of medical symptom-addressing and (unfortunate) modern medical paradigm shift into ignoring underlying causality of chronic disease and infection, Ayurveda takes mother nature’s natural rhythms, earthly bountiful fruits and foods and uses the understanding of the individual’s body make up and life condition routine to promote optimal function, balance, disease prevention and a evoke a state of intentional gratefulness and happiness.
Ayurveda is a system based on balancing one’s predominate energy, or dosha. Three doshas, or (three specific types of energy configurations that comprise all of life in the physical world). Derived, written and explained in Sanskrit, an esteemed Indian language, Ayurveda displays many Sanskrit words. The three doshas are: Vata, which is air and space, Pitta, which is fire and water and Kapha, which is earth and water. By using foods, daily exercise, stress reducing, and a holistic approach to balancing the main dosha in the body, an individual can live a life free of chronic illness, pain, stress and inflammation. On the opposite side of that promising spectrum, when one’s dosha is out of balance, great symptoms present themselves and the person may be in disarray, pain or stress. Though every individual is made up of a combination of all three doshas, the key is to balance them well and live an optimal, natural and healing life while doing so.
When individuals respect and practice the Ayurveda system, they can experience amazing benefits to the body and mind, such as:
Beautiful Skin, Nails and Hair,
Detox and Toxin Flushing
Better Relationship with Others and Self
Stronger and More Capable Physical Body
Better Digestion and Elimiation
Decrease of Chronic Diseases
Decrease of Body Inflammation
Better, Deeper, Sleep
Although air and space sound like the same thing, they are really very different. Space signifies emptiness, and air is what fills up the space. Vata governs the nervous system. Without it, nothing would move in your body. Vata is the only dosha that moves. It makes your eyes blink, your blood flow, and it is responsible for all those interesting and sometimes humorous (embarrassing) bodily noises. Vata primary people are small-boned, prone to dry hair, dry skin and constipation. They are also creative, fast thinkers and talkers, and occasionally a bit spacey.
This dosha is fire and water, but this water is more like digestive juices, blood and bile. Pitta people are lean, athletic, competitive types and perfectionists. They are prone to infections, loose stools and burning disorders like ulcers and heavy bleeding. They are also very smart and quick-minded; they like things done their way and organized to their liking.
Kapha primary people are bigger in physical stature. They have a tendency to put on weight if they do not work out and eat sensibly. Kaphas crave sweet and creamy things, which can be their downfall. They tend towards congestive disorders such as excess fluid in the lungs and body, impacted lymph tissue, sinus infections and oily skin. They are the most compassionate and easygoing of the three doshas. They also have the most physical stamina.
As mentioned previously, each person is made up of a unique combination of all three of these energies. As a matter of fact, anything that is living — be it animal, vegetable or mineral — is made up of these three energies. Some people are balanced in all three doshas, making them tridosha. From an Ayurvedic viewpoint, life is defined as these three energies coming together, and death is when these three energies fall apart. It is essential to know what energy makes up your primary constitutional element, as well as your secondary and tertiary elements. Also important, in order to maintain optimal health and longevity, is to know your proclivity for imbalance.
The focus of Ayurveda is about achieving balance. This is accomplished by knowing what opposite energies to apply to your life and when to apply them. For example, Vata people crave dry, crunchy things, like salads made with cold, rough, raw vegetables. Because the Vata element is cool and dry, people who are Vata primary tend to run on the cold side and have a low digestive fire, making these salads tough to digest. Vata primary people are best served eating warm liquid-y things like stews and soups, or things with plenty of oil (ghee). Vata primary people are already too cold and dry; they need to apply warm and hydrating energies to balance themselves both physically and emotionally. In Ayurvedic terms, once the body goes out of balance, the emotions and mind are going to be affected as well. Vata people like forms of exercise, such as jumping and running, which will provoke the Vata element. Instead, swimming in warm water or doing slow exercises that build core strength would best serve them.
There is a law in Ayurveda called “like unto like.” It means that you will be attracted to energies similar or related to your predominate energy. For a Pitta person, that means engaging in competitive or judgmental events. Pitta people like to be better than others. Pitta primary people make great engineers because of their fiery, cut through the problem oriented minds. Pitta people are perfectionists. They hold themselves to a high standard… and everyone else as well. Pitta people usually like alcohol and salty, spicy and hot foods. They want that martini or wine with fish, red meat, carrots, beets, tomatoes and dairy products. For balance, what they need cooling foods and actions because they have too much “fire” and heat in their off balanced and agitated system. Good to grab are raw cold salads with little or no meat/dairy products. Their best forms of exercise are slowing down, yoga, using the balance ball, or swimming… minus the competition. Taking a shot glass of dietary aloe vera gel two to three times, spread throughout the day, or raw young coconut water is a Pitta person’s best friend.
Kapha dominate people are not morning people and love to sleep/nap. They are slower to move and represent more of the earth/groundedness element. They enjoy being at rest and letting everything physically engaging take a back seat. Kapha primary people are not huge fans of exercise and despise diets. Their motto is, “Salads are for rabbits.” They crave ice cream, cookies, cake, potato chips, fried foods and fast foods. They prefer to kick back and watch the Vata and Pitta people run around and get everything done that needs to get done, because life is too short. What a Kapha primary person really needs to stay fit and healthy is to get up before 6 a.m. and start the day with some kind of aerobics, getting sweaty and getting the heart pumping. They should eat only citrus fruit or berries for breakfast. They need to keep moving, with not too much sitting, and not too many carbohydrates, like Pitta they are best served avoiding animal products as well. They need to avoid sweets, dairy and focus more on cold salads. Oil is the enemy of any Kapha person; they already have too much: excess water weight and oily skin.
Vailshali warns that Ayurveda is not for the faint of heart or for those deeply invested in denial about their shortcomings and self-sabotaging habits. As mentioned earlier, Ayurveda is about consciousness, awareness about the self and about the environment (nature) around your life condition. It does take a personal journey, education and openness to create the ongoing balance of respecting the dominate dosha and how to live optimally well in the Ayurveda practice, especially in our heavily toxic, marketed and chronically diseased and excuse-filled modern world. If you would like to find out what your dominate dosha is, take a simple test. Follow the general dosha balancing suggestions and see your life dramatically become healthier, hampered by less stress, more restful and happiness begin flowing consistently.
Sources: Huffington Post, Deepak Chopra Center, Mapi.com, Dr.Oz, Pioneer Thinking.com
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