An Introduction to Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a science of life; Ayur meaning life and Veda meaning science or knowledge.  Ayurveda originated over 5,000 years ago from Vedic culture in India.  Traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine have their roots in Ayurveda.  Ancient Greek medicine and philosophy has proven to embrace the science of classical ayurvedic practices even years before their time.   We are now seeing a resurgence of Ayurveda in the west as people become more open to the possibilities for health within this practice.

Natural healing is the focus in Ayurveda connecting dynamic integration between our environments, mind, body and spirit.   The thought that “thy food is thy medicine” (and thy downfall) is supported in Ayurveda as a means to treat food as a key mechanism to prevent illness and cultivate good health.  As modern science becomes more adept to accept and promote the importance of good nutrition, Ayurveda offers a helpful outline to what encompasses nutrition for the “whole” body.  We are now understanding that mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as good nutrition and exercise, are inextricably tied to the health of the whole body.

Ayurveda provides the guidelines of the ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior, and the proper use of our senses.  In recognition that human beings are also a part of nature, Ayurveda encapsulates three types of energies that govern our inner and outer environments (i.e. the way we look and how we feel in relation to our lifestyle and habits).  Within these three energies are described very different beings that encompass a different style of movements, transformations, and structures.  Vata (wind), Pitta (fire), and Kapha (Earth) are the primary forces that instruct our characteristics in both mind and body.  It is understood that we all hold a component of each of these forces, but will likely display one energy most dominantly.

The three Doshas express themselves both physically and in character traits.  If Vata
(wind) is the most present in our body, we tend to be light, thin, energetic, enthusiastic, and easily changeable. Pitta expresses a person to be intense, intelligent, goal-oriented, and with a strong appetite for life.  If Kapha reigns most prevalent we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing. There are many reputable websites you can learn what dosha you most readily express, or an Ayurveda practitioner can give a more in depth analysis.

Each element tempers on a balancing scale and when one becomes imbalanced symptoms can be expressed based on the dosha. When Vata is well balanced, the person is creative and lively, but when there is too much movement in their system a person tends to experience anxiety, insomnia, constipation, dry skin and difficulty focusing.  When Pitta is well balanced they present warmth, friendliness, discipline, good leadership and communication.  When out of balance Pitta becomes compulsive, irritable, and may suffer with some sort of inflammation and indigestion.  When Kapha is well balanced, a person is supportive, stable, and sweet, but when they are out of balance a person may experience weight gain, sluggishness, and congestion.

This is where Ayurveda’s important goal is expressed.  Once a person’s dosha is determined it is easier to prescribe through diet, herbs, aromatherapy, massage treatments, music and meditation what they need to remain and come into balance and full body health.  Each Dosha can benefit from a particular exercise plan, as well as differing food types and diets.

Assuredly, there are no dosha combinations that would support a toxic diet of fast foods and sugars.  Generally, Ayurvedic nutrition emphasizes consuming fresh, deeply colorful (from nature) foods that touch upon the six Ayurvedic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent.  Beyond nutrition Ayurveda promotes ample sleep, time spent in nature, and stress maintenance (through practices like mediation and yoga).  Through proper nutrition and lifestyle practices you can become more balanced and fully take advantage of the power in understanding and supporting your dosha.
If you are intrigued by Ayurveda I invite you to learn more about the power there is in maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle on all fronts of well-being.  Many practices in Ayurveda are easily integrated into your lifestyle and also provide powerful results with minimal effort.





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