Ayurveda is an over 3,000 year old science of life, focusing not only on healing but keeping your body in balance so you can realize your full potential. Ayurveda uses diet, herbs, lifestyle, meditation and pranayama (breathing practices) to bring the body and mind into balance. Long before modern science recognized the mind/body connection, Ayurveda developed a whole system around this connection!
There are two overarching principles of Ayurveda:
1) The mind and body are linked.
2) The mind has the capacity to heal the body and transform it.
Ayurveda is a personalized approach to health (each person is unique therefore no diet or lifestyle works for everyone) - one in which you balance your body/mind based on 3 main constitutional principles called doshas. Doshas are, simply put, your predilection for specific things - such as your skin, hair, build, food choices. Your basic constitutional dosha is determined at conception and is your genetically predisposed physical and and emotional qualities. When a dosha becomes imbalanced, dis-ease occurs.
Most people have a basic dominant dosha (some have two or all three). All 3 doshas exist in everyone but one or two will dominate. Seasons are dosha specific as well so certain times of year or more one dosha or the other (winter is cold and dry therefore, Vata season).-- - We will discuss this in the next blog.
The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata dosha dominant people (like myself), tend to move fast, talk fast, think fast, learn fast and are often cold and dry. Vata is related to movement or motion in the body (blood, breathing, heartbeat). Flying, winter, windy days, too much stimulation will often imbalance this dosha.
Pitta dosha dominant people (my second dosha), tend to be assertive, strong willed, hot, self-confident and are warmer (often thought of as fiery). Pitta is related to processing such as digestion and metabolism (digestion, temperature). Heat, too much activity that is sweaty, hot foods tend to imbalance this dosha. This is the summer!
Kapha dosha dominant people tend to be slower to wake in the AM, softer, more earthy, stable, easygoing, compassionate. Kapha relates to growth in the body (immune system, moisture). Inactivity, too much sleep, heavy foods, too much sugar/fat tend to imbalance this dosha. This is the Spring!
When a dosha is imbalanced, it can cause illness, lethargy, irritation (physical and emotional), and many other things. The idea is that food, meditation, activity, breathing and lifestyle either contribute to balance or imbalance. For instance - Vata people crave warm, fully cooked foods because they are dry and cold and these foods nourish them. Ice, cold foods, raw foods irritate their body and in turn their minds causing them to spiral out of balance.
Combating imbalance begins with removing the cause of the problem such as no longer eating raw foods or having a stable and consistent sleep routine. When the cause is removed, the body naturally returns to balance on its own. However, if the body doesn't, the treatment is to use the opposite of the problem to bring balance. For instance, if you have excess heat in the body, you can eat cooling foods (cucumber, cilantro, etc.). If you have excess dryness, you add more moisture rich foods (ghee, coconut oil, avocados, etc.).
To find out your dosha, there are several tests (I recommend taking at least 2 to be more accurate) online. Once you find your dosha(s) - both dominant and less so - you can begin to live life in tune with yourself by following that doshas diet, exercise, herbal, lifestyle suggestions.
A word here on using Ayurveda - it can get very detailed and may be a bit overwhelming - but, if you begin by adopting certain things such as a very stable sleep routine, eating more foods specific to that dosha and listening to your body more intently, it can be worth it. Ayurveda is just another way of tuning into your natural body and following it's natural predilections. It is like any other good habit, it takes time!
We will be taking a closer look at Ayurvedic concepts in the next blog but for now, here are some links for tests to determine your basic constitution dosha(s) as well as some articles with more information! Next blog we will take a look at how other things can affect which dosha is dominating right now, how you can maintain balance as well as the "what now" questions that come up after you find your basic dosha.
Quizzes to determine your basic dosha:
More information on the basics of Ayurveda:
Additionally, here is a link to my newest healthy living tips video showcasing a basic but VERY effective Ayurvedic product (Nasya Oil) that can be used every day to help reduce sinus issues (definitely something very important for allergies, sinus headaches, dryness, inflammation and Vata dosha types).
I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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