“Ayurveda…is a science of living that encompasses the whole life, and which relates the life of the individual to that of the universe. As such, it is open to and includes all life, and all methods that bring us into greater harmony.”
~Dr. David Frawley (Yoga & Ayurveda)
Ayurveda is considered to be the oldest healing science, originating in India over 5,000 years ago.
In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means Science of Life: “Ayu” means life and “Veda” is knowledge or science. Ayurveda is considered the “mother of all healing systems.”
Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to restoring balance in one’s life, thinking, diet & lifestyle.
Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences. While Ayurveda guides us on our way to living in harmony with nature and establishes physical health through diet and lifestyle, yoga lays the foundation for our spiritual growth and practice.
Many factors, both external and internal, act to disturb balance in one’s life: emotional and physical stress, work and family relationships, diet and food choices, weather, and physical trauma. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables you to understand how to live in accordance with your unique life circumstances and mind-body constitution (dosha) and to follow Nature’s cycles in order to restore balance and achieve perfect health.
You can Only create positive, long-lasting changes that will transform your life from A place of self-awareness and love.
Ayurveda provides access to your deepest level of consciousness and helps you achieve self-realization and get to the core of who you are as a human being.
What is Your Dosha?
Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or principles (doshas) that are present in everything and everyone:
VATA, PITTA, KAPHA
which are made up of the five Universal elements:
Air, Space, Fire, Water and Earth
Each person is born with a unique combination of each of these elements, which make up his or her mind/body type or dosha. The goal of Ayurveda is to find your particular mind/body type and keep it in balance for optimum health. This balance can be achieved and maintained through proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle routines.
Vata contains the elements of Ether and Air. Vata-type people are generally thin and find it hard to gain weight. Vatas typically have low energy and can tire easily getting out of balance. Vatas need to get plenty of rest, exercise moderately, keep warm, and maintain a regular lifestyle routine.
The Vata dosha controls all movement in the body, including breathing, digestion, and nerve impulses from the brain. When Vata is out of balance, anxiety and other nervous disorders may show up. Digestive problems, IBS, bloating, constipation, cramps, and even premenstrual pain are usually attributed to an imbalance in this dosha.
Vata tends to lead the other doshas and it usually goes out of balance first. More than half of all illnesses are Vata disorders. Balancing Vata is important for everyone, because when Vata is in balance, Pitta and Kapha are generally balanced as well.
Pitta-predominant people are generally of medium size and well built. They have a good amount of physical energy and stamina. They also tend to be intelligent and have a sharp wit and a good ability to concentrate.
Fire is the primary element of Pitta dosha, and it typically shows up in a person as fiery red hair or short temper. Since their body temperature is generally high, Pitta types can go out of balance with overexposure to heat and the sun. Their eyes are sensitive to light. They are ambitious by nature but also can be demanding, outspoken and abrasive.
Pitta types are known for their strong digestion but should be careful not to abuse it by consuming too many spicy and acid forming foods.
Kapha dosha is comprised of the elements of Water and Earth. Kapha-type people tend to have sturdy, heavy frames and a good reserve of physical strength and stamina. This gives Kaphas a strong immune system as well as a generally positive outlook on life.
Kapha types tend to be slow eaters and have slow digestion and elimination. They also speak slowly. They are generally calm and affectionate but, when out of balance, can become stubborn and lazy. They learn slowly and retain information well with a good understanding of it.
Kapha dosha controls the moist tissues of the body, so a Kapha imbalance typically show up in the body as a cold, allergies, or asthma. This is worse in Kapha season, March through June as cold and wet weather aggravates Kapha. Kapha types need stimulation and regular movement to stay in balance. They should not dwell in the past or resist change. They need lots of exercise and need to be careful not to overeat.
Seasons & Time of Day
Ayurveda teaches that the five elements shaping the different doshas also predominate more or less in the different seasons throughout the year.
Ayurveda divides the seasons by the predominant dosha throughout the year:
WINTER (ETHEr + Air) – Vata Season
Spring (Earth + Water) – Kapha Season
Summer (Water + Fire) – Pitta Season
According to Ayurveda, the time of day also influences each dosha:
To keep your constitution in balance, start by implementing the appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes.
The key to a balanced dosha is strong digestion. Your health starts in the intestinal tract as 75% of your immune system is concentrated there, in the so-called gut-associated lymphatic tissue (GALT).
To improve your digestions, follow the following Ayurvedic tips:
– Start your day by drinking a glass of ginger water with lemon. Simply grate some fresh ginger root using a cheese grater and squeeze the juice in your water glass. Add lemon juice to taste and drink. This drink is excellent for stimulating digestion first thing in the morning as it lubricates the digestive tract and increases the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
– Eat your ghee (clarified butter). Ghee is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine as it is rich in butyric acid providing nutrition for the cells of the intestinal mucosa. It stimulates agni (digestion), oleates the digestive tracts and improves digestion so use it in your cooking as much as possible.
– Taking small sips of warm or room temperature water during a meal aids in the digestion and absorption of food.
– Proper chewing is also very important ensuring that food is well mixed with saliva and properly pre-digested before it enters the stomach.
– Fill stomach with 1/3 food, 1/3 liquid and 1/3 empty
– Always eat fruit alone
– Drink agni-stimulating herbal teas, such as ginger, fennel or turmeric.
Daily Practices (Dinacharya)
According to Ayurveda, dinacharya, or the practice of a balanced daily routine, has a very powerful healing effect on mind and body.
Here are some simple daily routines you can implement in order to create more peace and harmony in your life and keep your dosha in balance. Start one at a time and add a new practice each week.
– Go to bed by 10 PM to avoid entering into the energy-driven Pitta time of day (refer to the Seasons and Time of Day section above)
– Wake up before 6 AM to avoid the Kapha sluggishness between the hours of 6 and 10 AM
– Meditate and do breathing exercises each morning and/or evening (15-20 minutes)
Move each day. You only need a few minutes (15-20 min) of yoga or light exercise, jogging, walking or swimming. Don’t overdo it.
– Practice dry skin brushing before you get in the shower to stimulate your lymphatic system and remove toxins (ama)
– Perform daily self-massage (Ahbyanga).
– Scrub your tongue before brushing your teeth in the morning to remove ama (toxins) accumulated overnight
– Practice oil-pulling, or swishing coconut or sesame oil in your mouth each morning for 15-20 minutes to remove bacteria and strengthen your gums
– Perform nasal irrigation or Neti followed by a few drops of herbal oil in each nostril to lubricate the nasal passages, a practice called Nasya. Neti and Nasya are especially helpful during winter and spring as it helps to alleviate cold and flu symptoms and reduce congestion due to allergies.
Lastly, an excellent way to remove built up toxins, reduce stress in your body and rebalance your dosha is to regularly go through a gentle cleanse. I recommend completing my simple 4-day Ayurvedic cleanse at least twice per year, ideally in the fall and spring when your body is most susceptible to imbalances due to the change of seasons and compromised immunity.
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