I’m guessing you’ve definitely heard of yoga, but have you heard of Ayurveda?
Maybe not. However, in recent years it’s become quite the buzz word of the wellbeing industry, but many people still don’t know what it is or what it means.
Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it must be a new thing, however it’s actually as old as yoga and was created around the same time.
Ancient sages studied people and realised that physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing were key to maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit. They worked out that if we have a particular ache or pain that the humans need to be treated as a whole rather than just the symptom, making this a Holistic practice.
When you practice yoga, really you are also practicing a form of Ayurveda and when you practice Ayurveda, you are practicing a from of yoga. The two are intertwined in many ways and you can’t practice one without the other.
In a nutshell, Ayurveda is a health care system that looks at each person as an individual. To help us understand ourselves a little more, the Ayurvedic system has created three mind-body types, of which we all have elements of. These mind-body types, known as Dosha’s contain information on our personality, body type, digestion, energy and much more.
The three Dosha’s are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. All three are very different but we all have varying amounts of all three within us, since they are also related to the universal elements water, fire, earth, ether and air.
The good thing about Ayurveda is that once you know what Dosha you relate to, it can be much easier to find out how to balance yourself inside and out. That’s what Ayurveda is all about – finding balance.
You could say that it offers us a lifestyle to follow as quite a lot of the advice is very practical and looks at food, activity, where you live (climate) and sleeping patterns. All the things we have to do to naturally to survive but how we can upgrade our survival instinct to allow us to thrive, not just survive through getting to know your mind and your body.
So, which of these relates to you? Remember, there will be flecks of all that you relate to, but which one(s) do you relate to the most?
Vata is associated with Air and Ether (space)
Usually light in frame, these types have bursts of energy, followed by sudden periods of fatigue. Because they are associated with air, this is a very dry element and so they often have dry skin and hair, paired with cold hands and feet. Their digestive fire is weak meaning that they easily get constipation and wind (because of the air element). Vatas tend to sleep lightly and wake easily and they also have very vivid dreams. Vata’s are highly creative and have lots of ideas on the go, they are sociable and chatty.
When imbalanced, this mind body type can manifest in weight loss, weakness, hypertension, and restlessness as well as feeling overwhelmed, anxious, nervous, and they procrastinate.
Pitta is associated with Fire and Water
Usually of average size and weight and because they are associated with the Fire and Water elements, pittas also often have great digestion, meaning they can tolerate most things, including cooling foods and drinks. They have a steady pace of energy, and a great appetite. Pittas are very ambitious and competitive and love working out or practicing competitive sports. Their minds are logical, and they love solving problems.
When out of balance, pittas may also deal with rashes, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, heartburn, and indigestion. Mentally they have a very short temper which causes bursts of anger, they always want to do more which can lead to adrenal fatigue. Too much heat from the fire element!
Kapha is associated with Earth and Water.
These types often have a strong build, bright skin and lustrous hair; they sleep and eat well. The earth and water element make their digestion slow but strong. They are very grounded and love looking after others, it’s in their nature to be soft and caring. Their energy is slower paced and they lean more towards stillness.
When imbalanced, kaphas take on so much of other peoples stuff and think of sharing their own problems as a burden and so hold on to a lot of emotional baggage. Because Kapha is slow moving, their digestion is also slow, this also increases the stickiness in their body which manifests as phlegm and mucus. For all of these reasons they can be prone to weight gain, fluid retention, allergies, and depression.
This gives you a basic idea of the differences between the Doshas. We all have elements of each in varying amounts, which can change from moment to moment. This is known as your Vikruti – your shifting Dosha. This is influenced by many things – your work, your lifestyle, the food you eat, your friends, how much you exercise or move around, your age etc.
You are also born with a particular ratio of Doshas too, which is known as Prakriti – your natural Dosha. The Prakriti Dosha you are born with is your true self. This can be determined when you look back at what you were like as a baby or very small child. This can be understood from your bone structure, your sleeping patterns, how you were as a baby – were you loud or quiet, were you an active baby or perhaps you slept a lot, did you have digestive issues, what was your skin like etc.
There are some good Dosha tests around, so if you’d like to know more here are the ones I’d recommend.
It’s great to find out more about yourself, once you know this you can start to look into the lifestyle, health and self care practices you can put into place to help you find some balance.
In my next blog post I’ll be exploring how to bring each Dosha into balance.
Please feel free to send me your comments or questions and I’ll be happy to help as best I can.