22 Oct Ayurveda
Ayurveda, which translates as “knowledge of life,” dates back 5,000 years to the ancient Sanskrit texts, the Vedas. It’s a system of healing that examines physical constitution, emotional nature, and spiritual outlook in the context of the universe.
According to Ayurveda, there are five elements that make up the world around us and the world inside of us: space, air, fire, water and earth. They all reflect certain qualities that we experience through our senses. In a way, they express the language of nature. For example, air is like the wind and is constantly on the move, a bit cold, drying and light; on the other hand, fire is hot, steamy and fierce; whereas water is wet, a little cooling and heavy. Inside our bodies, these five master elements combine together and exist as three primary energy patterns called dosha.
These energy patterns – or doshas, to use the Sanskrit word – are present in every tissue, every cell and every organ in our body, thereby they govern all of the body’s processes, from bodily functions to our thoughts and feelings.
Every person is said to have a unique ratio of each dosha, usually with one standing out more than the others. For example, a person may be mostly pitta while another may be mostly vata. An Ayurvedic practitioner can help you determine your dosha.
A person’s unique ratio of vata, kapha, and pitta is said to define their Ayurvedic constitution, a blueprint to achieve optimal health.
Here’s a general overview of each dosha.
Vata consists mostly of the two elements air and space (also known as ether) and is generally described as cold, light, dry, rough, flowing, and spacious. Autumn represents vata for its cool, crisp days.
Those with the vata dosha are usually described as slim, energetic, and creative. They’re known for thinking outside the box but can become easily distracted. What’s more, their mood is highly dependent on the weather, people around them, and foods they eat.
Strengths: learn quickly, highly creative, multitasker, kind-hearted, flexible, “on the go,” naturally slim
Weaknesses: forgetful, anxious, unstable mood, can get overwhelmed easily, highly sensitive to the cold, has trouble sleeping, irregular appetite and eating patterns, prone to digestive issues and gas, poor circulation (cold hands and feet)
According to Ayurveda, for optimal health, a vata-dominant person should follow a regular daily routine, manage stress through meditation and other calming activities, and maintain a warm body temperature by avoiding cold weather and consuming warm foods and drinks.
Kapha (pronounced “kuffa”) is based on earth and water. It can be described as steady, stable, heavy, slow, cold, and soft. Spring is known as kapha season, as many parts of the world slowly exit hibernation.
People with this dosha are described as strong, thick-boned, and caring. They’re known for keeping things together and being a support system for others. Kapha-dominant people rarely get upset, think before acting, and go through life in a slow, deliberate manner.
Strengths: empathetic, caring, trusting, patient, calm, wise, happy, romantic, strong bones and joints, healthy immune system
Weaknesses: prone to weight gain, slow metabolism, sluggishness, over-sleeping, breathing issues (i.e., asthma, allergies), higher risk of heart disease, mucus buildup, susceptible to depression, needs regular motivation and encouragement
For good health, a kapha-dominant person should focus on regular exercise, a healthy diet, maintain a warm body temperature (e.g., by sitting in a sauna or eating warm food), and establish a regular sleep routine.
Known for being associated with a tenacious personality, the pitta dosha is based on fire and water. It’s commonly described as hot, light, sharp, oily, liquid, and mobile. Summer is known as pitta season for its sunny, hot days.
People with pitta are said to usually have a muscular build, be very athletic, and serve as strong leaders. They’re highly motivated, goal-oriented, and competitive. Still, their aggressive and tenacious nature can be off-putting to some people, which can lead to conflict.
Strengths: intelligent, purposeful, learns quickly, self-determined, masters skills easily, strong desire for success, strong, natural leaders, quick metabolism, good circulation, healthy skin and hair
Weaknesses: impatient, prone to conflict, always hungry, mood swings when hungry, prone to acne and inflammation, sensitive to hot temperatures
Those with a pitta-dominant dosha should focus on work-life balance and avoid extreme heat (e.g., weather, spicy food).