What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda: the science of life
Ayurveda, which literally means the knowledge and wisdom of life, is the traditional holistic healing system of india. Often called the mother of all healing, it originated over 5,000 years ago in the indian sub-continent and is the longest continually-practiced form of medicine on the planet.
View of health and disease
The roots of ayurveda stem from the vedic culture of ancient india. Ayurveda is referred to as the knowledge or science of life and is a conjunction of two sanskrit words: ayur “life” and veda “knowledge.” This can be understood as the science of how to live a long and healthy life—ie: adding life to your years as well as years to your life.
Ayurveda offers a path to optimal health and development for each individual through its profound understanding of natural patterns and cycles living with the cycles of nature maintains health, and a disconnection from those natural cycles leads to disease.
Going beyond symptoms to the root cause of the disease is where true healing begins. Understanding the language of nature allows us to balance the body, mind, and spirit so that we can live harmoniously. Ayurvedic practices restore holistic health, resulting in self-healing, vitality, and longevity. The secrets of self-healing are waiting to be unlocked through the simple and practical art of ayurveda.
Your innate nature is called your constitution or prakruti in ayurveda. This unique balance was determined at the moment of conception and is with you the rest of your life. Your prakruti is expressed physically through your dna. It determines what is in harmony with your nature and what will cause you to become out of balance. Knowledge of your constitution is a road map and is essential to developing optimal health. Your constitution determines how you react to various foods, environments, and general life habits.
To get an idea of your constitution, take our dosha quiz.
A road map
Knowing your ayurvedic constitution is like having a road map to guide you along the way of your unique life. With this road map you can make that will best support you in health and wellness—and that will help you come back to health and wellness when you have gone out of balance. In fact, knowing your constitution means that you can avert imbalance by avoiding the factors that contribute to it.
An ayurvedic practitioner can determine your constitution by doing an in-depth intake. Personalized recommendations can then be made to support you in wellness. This is coaching for life-long sustainable health and wellness!
The five elements
According to ayurveda everything in the universe, including the human body, is composed of the five elements: space, air, fire, water, & earth. Each person has a unique proportion of all five elements; some elements are more predominate than others. These elements come together in three dynamic biological forces known as the doshas: vata, pitta, & kapha.
The three doshas
Your constitution is a unique ratio of three basic body–mind types known as the doshas. They are vata, pitta, and kapha. We all have all three doshas present within us. However, the proportion of these three doshas in each individual is different; thus, each individual is unique and distinct.
Many people have a single dosha that predominates in their make-up; some people have two doshas that predominate in their make-up; and still other people have all three doshas in roughly equal amounts. These different combinations all give various attributes and help to contribute to genetic diversity.
The doshas have significant areas of influence on all of our lives: everything from meal digestion, daily biorhythms, yearly seasonal cycles, lifetime stages, and even localized climate patterns.
Vata is a combination of the space & air elements.
Vata governs all movement.
The classic description of vata individuals is that they tend to exhibit dry thinner skin, a light body frame, cold hands and feet, rough nails, coarse kinky hair, quick movements, talkativeness, hyperactivity or variable stamina, and darker skin and eyes. Keep in mind that these are only general tendencies and are expressed differently in each person.
Functions of vata include: movement of thoughts, digestion, circulation, respiration, peristalsis, elimination.
Qualities of vata: dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile
Balanced vata exhibits: creativity, enthusiasm, energetic, inspiring, and flexibility.
Imbalanced vata exhibits: worry, fear, anxiety, confusion, dryness, gas, bloating, constipation, muscle cramps, joint pain, and insomnia.
- Click here for our vata tip sheet.
- Click here for our list of vata-balancing foods.
- Click here for our list of vata-balancing treatments and services.
Pitta is a combination of fire & water elements.
Pitta governs transformation, metabolism and digestion.
The classic description of pitta individuals is that they tend to exhibit higher body temperatures, strong appetites, sharp minds, light colored hair, light-sensitive eyes (often hazel, green, or blue), frequent thirst, oily skin and hair (usually straight and blond), focused minds, strong organiztional skills, competitive natures, and athletic. Builds keep in mind that these are only general tendencies and are expressed differently in each person.
Functions of pitta include: metabolism, digestion, body temperature, appetite, thirst, color.
Qualities of pitta: oily, sharp, hot, and light
Balanced pitta exhibits: understanding, intelligence, and courage.
Imbalanced pitta exhibits: anger, criticism, judgment, indigestion, heartburn, inflammation, diarrhea, and rashes.
- Click here for our pitta tip sheet.
- Click here for our list of pitta-balancing foods.
- Click here for our list of pitta-balancing treatments and services.
Kapha is a combination of earth & water.
Kapha governs structure and lubrication.
The classic description of kapha individuals is that they tend to exhibit roundness and softness in the body and facial features with cool, thick, smooth skin. There may also be a tendency toward fluid retention or excess mucus, slow digestion and movements, thick hair, and large gentle eyes. Keep in mind that these are only general tendencies and are expressed differently in each person.
Functions of kapha include: lubrication, nourishment, support, stability, growth, strength, repair, retention, and taste.
Qualities of kapha: heavy, slow, cool, oily, smooth, dense, soft, and stable
Balanced kapha exhibits: love, compassion, and forgiveness.
Imbalanced kapha exhibits: attachment, greed, possessiveness, slow digestion, colds, cough, congestion, mucous, and weight gain.
- Click here for our kapha tip sheet.
- Click here for our list of kapha-balancing foods.
- Click here for our list of kapha-balancing treatments and services.
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