AyurvedaA system of creating and maintaining positive health focusing on preventing the imbalances that leads to DIS-EASE. Ayurveda does not focus on just the disease itself or set its limits to the physical or psychological, rather it focuses primarily on the person as an individual, as a whole-Body, Mind, Spirit. This ancient well constructed system has lasted for over 5,000 years, offering natural ways of treating a person and promoting health with an emphasis on prevention and empowering an individual to take responsibility for their own well being.
Sanskrit for "The Science, or Wisdom- of Life", Ayurveda has become more popularly available here in the United States and around the world thanks to the many translations from Sanskrit to English, among many other languages throughout the world. It has gained much attention the past few decades here in the U.S.A. due to its unique ability to work with the human universe within itself.
The universe we live in consists of 5 main elements- Ether (space), Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. As such, the bodies we inhabit are made of these 5 elements (Panchamahabhutas). According to the Vedas (Ancient Indian Books of knowledge presenting the spiritual science of awareness) the body is made of 3 Doshas or Constitutions. These 3 elements are known as VATA, PITTA, and KAPHA. Together they form what is known as the Tridoshas (Three biological humours). These 3 govern all of the biological, psychological, and even physiopathological functions of the mind, body, and consciousness. They are the basic protective barriers for the body in its normal condition in every cell and every organ. These 3 must be kept in balance to prevent the disease process. These three Dosha’s are responsible for the arising of natural urges and individual preferences in food such as flavors and the temperature etc. They carry out the creation, maintenance, and destruction of the bodily tissues as well as the waste products of the body itself. They also govern psychological actions such as fear, anger, greed, understanding, compassion, and love. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha therefore hold the foundation of the mental condition of mankind.
The basic constitution (Prakriti) of each individual is determined at the time of conception. At this moment the Prakriti of the individual is decided by the transformations and combinations- conditions of bodily air, fire, and water that manifest in the bodies of the parents. Whatever doshas may have been more prominent during the time of conception will exist more-so in the build up of the child. The parents’ heredity, diet, and activity of the mother during pregnancy, as well as conditions in the womb during pregnancy and in the birth canal during delivery also influence the health and happiness of the child, but these are secondary to the constitution.
- VATA is the principle of movement, It is made of Ether (Space) and Air. In nature Vata is like the wind, as it is constantly moving and scattering things around. It is called the "King of the Doshas" mainly because it is the moving force behind everything, including Pitta and Kapha. Its attributes are dry, cold, light, subtle, mobile, rough, hard, changeable, and clear.
Vata in its natural state maintains energy of will, inhalation, exhalation, movement, the discharge of impulses, equilibrium of the tissues, and sharpness of the senses. When aggravated, it causes dryness, dark discolorations, desire for warmth, tremors, abdominal distention, constipation, loss of strength, loss of sensory acuity, insomnia, jumbled speech, and fatigue.
Vata predominant people are generally slim or slender and either short or tall with prominent bones. They are generally characterized as having an oval face, small eyes, dry skin, thin hair, small joints that may crack often, and long fingers. Their hands and feet are usually cold. The metabolism and sleep pattern of a Vata predominant person is always changing. Their sleep may be light, disturbed, or short in duration. They tend to talk and walk a lot as well as complain regularly. They adjust easily to change but may become indecisive or impatient. Vata types perform lots of hand gestures while talking. They are very intuitive, imaginative, and artistic. They are very good at writing poems, creating art, and dancing…always on the go and love to travel.
The Vata mind always tends to be busy…like a busy bee, constantly buzzing around moving in circles. They are born worriers, worrying about anything and everything. They often feel anxious and nervous, many times their mind is in the future and not enjoying the present moment. Vata types usually need to develop endurance, confidence, and boldness. Fear and anxiety most afflicts them.
-PITTA is of the Fire/Water element. It is the heat or transformative energy in the body. Pitta in its normal state is responsible for digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, heat, visual perception, hunger, thirst, skin color, luster of the eyes, intelligence, understanding, determination, courage, and softness of the body. Attributes of Pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light, spreading, liquid, fleshy smell.
A Pitta predominant person is usually of medium height with moderate weight, frame, and muscle development. Their chests are not as flat as those of Vata predominance. They show a moderate number of veins and muscle tendons, many freckles and moles which will vary in color. The bones of a Pitta predominant person will not be as obvious as those of a Vata type. A Pitta complexion may be yellowish, copper like, reddish, or fair. Their skin is usually soft, warm and less wrinkly compared to a Vata type. The skin tends to be a good color and may become flushed. The hair can be thin, silky brownish or red with a tendency of early graying and/or balding. The eyes are usually of a medium prominence.
Pitta types posses a generally strong metabolism, strong appetite, and good digestion. For the most part they will consume large portions of food and liquid, and enjoy cold fluids. Their sleep is moderate but uninterrupted. Pittas are known to perspire a lot and quite easily. The body temperature can be high and the extremities are usually very warm. Heat and high exposure to sunlight will aggravate Pitta.
Psychologically, Pitta types have strong comprehension, are very intelligent and sharp, and tend to be good public speakers. Emotionally they exhibit tendencies of anger, jealousy, and sometimes hatred when out of balance. They are often anxious and tend to be leaders.
-Kapha is made of the Water and Earth element. In nature, Kapha is like water. As two-thirds of the earth is comprised of water, so too is the physical human body. The energy of Kapha helps us to feel calm and content, notice the tastes in foods, nourishes all of the organs and cells in our body, builds the tissues, lubricates our joints and air passages, and protects all of the physical systems in the body. The qualities of Kapha are moist, cold, heavy, static, sticky, soft, cloudy, slow, and smooth.
Kapha dominant individuals usually have a well developed, full bodied, physical structure. However, they tend to carry excess weight. Their chests are expanded and broad, the veins and tendons are not very obvious due to the thickness of the skin. The muscle development is good and the bones do not appear prominent. The complexion is most often fair, white, or pale. The skin tends to be more soft, oily, moist, and cold. Kapha types exhibit thick, dark, soft, and wavy hair. The eyes are often largely rounded and dense. Physiologically they tend to have a low but regular appetite. The digestion functions slowly and they usually take less food than other types. Movement is most often sluggish, the perspiration is moderate, and the sleep is sound, prolonged or excessive. Kaphas tend to have good stamina and are often healthy and content. These types are loving, nurturing, caring, peacemaking, tolerant, and forgiving. The basic slogan for a Kapha type would be “Don’t worry, be happy”. They are good listeners and speak very little, at times they seem very shy. Their comprehension can be slow but definite once they understand something, that knowledge is retained. When imbalanced they tend to be prone to traits of greed, attachment, envy and possessiveness.
In this, it is our life long goal to maintain a constant balance of the doshas to live healthy. Eating proper foods to bring about balanced Agni (digestive fire) and assimilation to nourish the body and mind, eliminating Malas (waste products) from the body in a healthy fashion, treating our body and mind as a whole individual unit, is all very essential to leading a very positive Ayurvedic lifestyle. The ways of Ayurveda are vast and deep. This exciting way of life has helped, inspired, and influenced countless beings throughout time and continues to do so this very day. As our Western ways of medicine are proving more synthesized and monetized, it is the WHOLE person and PURE nutritive approach to life that is coming full circle emphasizing PREVENTION rather than just focusing on the disease itself.