Ayurveda is an ancient healing science, originating in India over 5000 years ago. The sanskrit word literally translates to “the wisdom of life” or “the knowledge of longevity”. Ayurveda views health as much more than the absence of disease, but as living in harmony with the body, mind and spirit. It is the balanced state of one’s natural constitution.
Health, from an Ayurvedic perspective, is defined as a gracious, tranquil, content, joyous, bright, and clear state of body, sense, mind, and spirit, including the balanced state of one’s natural constitution, all bodily tissues, the digestive capacities, and waste excretion. Simply put, health is achieved when you are aligned with your own natural and unique state of balance.
~ by Premal Patel, MD
There is no “one size fits all” method when it comes to Ayurvedic wellness and healing, each person has a constitution that is specific to him or her. It is when we move away from that constitution that we create health imbalances, which if not addressed can manifest into disease.
There exists 5 elements in the natural world, on which ayurvedic science is based:
- Earth is cold, heavy, solid, stable, and dry.
- Water is cold, mobile, heavy, soft, and liquid.
- Fire is hot, subtle, mobile, dry, and sharp.
- Space is vast, cold, light, and clear.
- Air is dry, cold, rough, and full of motion.
These five elements exist not just in the natural world, but in all things, including the body. In fact, each and every cell of the body is made up of all five elements.
For example, if you compared them to the digestive system:
- Earth rules the actual structure and solidity of the digestive tract.
- Water rules the liquid, fluid quality of the digestive juices and acids.
- Fire rules the heat and digestive enzymes involved in the metabolic process.
- Space pervades the whole process, including the space within each cell.
- Air rules the peristaltic movement of the nutrients through the digestive tract.
These five elements combine in various ways to form three constitutional principles, known in Ayurveda as doshas. You can relate the qualities of these elements to each particular dosha.
- Vata, comprised of air and space.
- Pitta, comprised of fire and water.
- Kapha, comprised of earth and water.
Ayurveda differs from modern medicine in that every individual is considered unique and there is not diet or lifestyle routine that works for everyone. In fact, food and lifestyle routines are considered the most important medicine, therefore if you visit an Ayurvedic doctor, they are more likely to send you away with a recipe that with a prescription for pills.
Ayurveda considers prevention to be the key. It focuses on providing specific advice and guidance on how to maintain physical and emotional health. Not only is everyone considered an individual, but are treated in a holistic manner.
The three dosha types, principles of which Ayurveda is based on, are considered energies that make up an individual. Each person
has all three doshas, but usually one or two dominate. Various dosha proportions determine one’s physiological and personality traits, as well as general likes and dislikes. For example, Vata types will prefer hot weather to cold and Kapha types are more likely to crave spicy foods than other types.
Each dosha performs different physiological functions in the body (click on the links for more information – source: mindbodygreen)
1. Vata Dosha — Energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and your heartbeat.
- In balance: There is creativity and vitality.
- Out of balance: Can produce fear and anxiety.
2. Pitta Dosha — Energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body’s temperature.
- In balance: Leads to contentment and intelligence.
- Out of balance: Can cause ulcers and anger.
3. Kapha Dosha — Energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system.
- In balance: Expressed as love and forgiveness.
- Out of balance: Can lead to insecurity and envy.
To determine your type most books and websites will offer questionnaires that can be used to assess your mind/body constitution. The shorter the questionnaire, the more generalised it is likely to be. If you were to consult with an Ayurvedic doctor they would conduct more detailed testing, taking into consideration your history to ascertain your true constitution.
To find our your mind/body type, try Holistic Online
For more information on doshas on and off the mat and recognising imbalances, head to last week’s blog post on our September studio theme: Doshas
If you would like to know a more about how you can adapt your yoga practice to suit your individual mind/body type, join Andy for our Yin & Yang Yoga Workshop this Saturday, September 17
About the author: Andy Broadbear is a qualified yoga teacher & therapist, who specialises in pre + postnatal yoga, and studio assistant at Kula. She is also a mum of two, health & wellness blogger and hobby photographer.
Kula Yoga has a beautiful hot yoga studio on Camberwell Rd, Hawthorn, Melbourne. Kula offers ‘Hot Yoga’ classes for detoxification, dynamic poweryoga ‘Flow Yoga’ as well as a gentle ‘Light Yin Yoga’ option. Beginners through to advanced students are welcome to all classes. Kula also provides prenatal & postnatal yoga classes, and provides Melbourne workplaces with group corporate yoga programs to build employee health, fitness and wellbeing, and school yoga programs. Kula also runs an annual ‘Kula Cruise’ yoga retreat sailing from Bali to Lombok & the Gili Islands. Find out more on our website www.kulayoga.com.au. Or follow us:
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