What is Ayurveda?
“The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.” –Hippocrates
Ayurveda awakens the healer within you.
Given the chance, 99% of the time our bodies will heal themselves on their own. The problem is that we just don’t give our body the chance. Ayurveda is a highly individualized science and wisdom of life that utilizes first, proper diet/nutrition, proper routine and habits, proper lifestyle, balanced rest and physical activity, proper spices, herbs, and essential oils for your unique nature. I like to call Ayurveda the common sense medicine because it just makes so much sense. Ayur, life and Veda, wisdom or knowledge translates into the wisdom or knowledge of life or longevity. Ayurveda is the oldest holistic healing science in the entire world. Traditional Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, and Greek medicine all trace their roots back to Ayurveda. Ayurveda co-evolved alongside Yoga over 5,000 years ago in India. This traditional science is designed to bring the body back into its unique balance and stay in that balance as we move through the seasons and transitions of life. It is here in our own balance where our body can function and it’s most optimal level and where we can experience true vitality.
Ayurveda’s Main Goal: Bring and keep the body healthy and vital so the soul inside the body can pursue it’s highest spiritual goals and work.
Yoga’s Main Goal: Spiritual development, and enlightenment.
Ayurveda and Yoga together make a complete science and system of health care and growth.
Being holistic, Ayurveda takes into account not only your physical well-being but also your mental and emotional well-being. Your unique characteristics, structure, and personality make up your mind-body constitution. Your constitution is your genetic makeup, your unique vibration of energy. Each of us are made up of a unique combination of the subtle elements. This genetic makeup is determined at our time of conception and stays with us for the rest of our life. In Ayurveda, we refer to our unique constitution as our Doshic balance. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Discomfort, illness, and disease arise when a dosha is out of balance- too high or vitiated. By understanding the nature of your inherent balance and the nature of your current imbalance, your Ayurvedic practitioner is able to develop a plan tailored to your specific needs and unique journey to health and happiness.
“What you focus on grows.”
Ayurveda focuses on improving your quality of life by achieving balance, health, and longevity rather than just eradicating symptoms. We will focus on adding in harmonious routines, habit and behaviors that will over time naturally crowd out the disharmonious, bringing the body into a natural state of balance. Ayurveda identifies 6 stages of disease or illness. Our current western model doesn’t identify the disease or illness until it has reached the 4th or 5th stage. Therefore, Ayurveda is unique in that it is able to step in and prevent illness and disease before they have had time to manifest by understanding the early signs and symptoms of disease. It’s like western medicine only has the second part of the map to health, while Ayurveda has the full map. There is definitely a time and place for western medicine and its existence has saved many lives. When it comes to an acute trauma like a car crash or a broken bone, western medicine is a savior. However, when it comes to chronic diseases and discomfort, western medicine is just not equipped.
Your genetic code- Ayurveda views each person through the lens of the five elements and their inherent qualities. The five elements are ether, air, fire, water, and earth. This might sound a little wacky… I know, I’ve been there. Ayurveda uses the laws of nature to understand everything in existence. This theory is based off an old and well known scientific equation, E=MC2 by Albert Einstein. Energy equals mass or matter times the speed of light squared. This scientific equation states that everything is energy. Under the right circumstances and conditions energy can become matter and vise versa, matter can become energy. Energy and matter are simply two sides of the same coin. We easily see the five elements in our physical surroundings, and as we go on, we will begin to notice and see the five elements and their inherent qualities within ourselves.
Let’s quickly look at where we see the five elements in our body. Earth is present in the fact that we are somewhat solid. We can see and touch our bodies. Our physical body is sustained by the food we eat from our natural earth. In this it makes more sense that we are simply a mini replica of nature, made up of the five elements because we easily utilize plants, herbs, minerals, and water from our natural earth to sustain our physical body because these substances are the same in composition and character to our own underlying make-up. Water makes up 70% of our body. Water is our life sustaining nectar. We cannot go very long with out water. Water is present in the plasma and mucus secretions of our body. Fire is behind all transformation and digestion. There is a fire in our stomach- hydrochloric acid and pepsin that break down the food we eat into smaller molecules. Air is behind all movement. The movement of limbs, breath, thoughts, blood- circulation. Air is behind the absorption of nutrients through the small intestine and water through the large intestine. Air delivers the nutrients and minerals we consume to our cells and tissues for nourishment. Ether is always present, humbly residing in background giving a space for the elements to interact in this way.
The elements and their qualities not only shape and explain the physical functioning’s of our body but also our personality and emotions. In the mind, the elements are associated with personality characteristics and emotions.
Have you ever wondered what actually accounts for the difference in people? Why are some people hyperactive and fast moving, while others exude grace and stillness? Why can some people eat a five-course meal with ease, while others can barely finish a salad? Modern genetics offers some insight, but what about the characteristics and idiosyncrasies that make every person unique? Ayurveda answers all of these questions with the elements. The elements are visible through distinct qualities and actions, ranging from complex biological functions to personality traits. An airy personality is bubbly, enthusiastic, and excitable. An earthy personality is grounded, calm, and stable. A fiery personality is direct, serious, and passionate. Anxiety is airy-there is a lot of movement. Compassion is watery- fluidic and nourishing. Anger is fiery- heated and intense.
Now lets talk about the doshas. Your unique characteristics, structure, and personality make up your mind-body constitution/ unique vibration/ energy/ Doshic Balance. The three doshas and five elements constitute the chemical nature of every living organism. What makes everyone and everything so unique is that we are all made up of a varying ratio of the five elements. Dosha literally means fault, or disease tendency, meaning that your Dosha or Mind-Body Type outlines your tendencies. The three Doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
The ether and air elements make up the Vata Dosha. Vata, "that which moves things" is behind all and any movement. The movement of our thoughts, breath,
blood (circulation), and cellular communication are all due to the subtle energy of Vata.
The Qualities of Vata are light, dry, cold, mobile, quick, irregular, and subtle.
In the body this looks like an ectomorph body, light and thin bones, long and lanky limbs, bony joints, long and narrow or oval face shape, small and subtle eyes, thin lips, thin, dry, coarse or brittle hair, cracking joints, and dry or pellet like poop.
A Vata type personality can look like a bubbly, energetic and excitable personality like Kelly Ripa or a super spiritual etheric type personality like Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. Vata promotes creativity, flexibility and feelings of freshness and lightness. Vata's tend to be quick with everything. They eat quickly, talk quickly, walk quickly, jump from subject to subject quickly, can act impulsively, like to change jobs often (they get bored easily), and like to travel and move around. They have a hard time slowing down and staying still- this is medicine for them. They tend to not be attached or constricted to any metaphorical box or boundaries around them and life making them great innovators and creators. They see endless possibilities!
Vata's out of balance could experience constipation, gas, bloating, dryness, forgetfulness, tremors, nervousness, anxiety, fear, worry, insomnia, emaciation, anemia, GERD, malabsorption, dizziness, ringing in the ears, low energy, shifting pain.
The elements of fire and water make up Pitta Dosha. Pitta is the energy of transformation. Pitta is the firey energy that digests and transforms everything from the words we hear or the images we see to the food we eat.
There is fire in our minds that digest sensory input and fire in our guts- hydrochloric acid and pepsin that cooks the food in our tummies.
The qualities inherent within the energies of fire and water (Pitta Dosha) are hot, moist, light, sharp, clear, and unstable (static + mobile).
In the body this looks like a high appetite, quick digestion, sharp mind, clear and direct speech, sometimes sharp speech, mesomorph body type, angular or square face shape, direct eye gaze, deep set eyes, and/or a rosy complexion.
Pitta Personality: Pitta's tend to be very ambitious, passionate, direct, efficient, have strong determination and drive, goal oriented, quick learners (often very book smart- they have a lot of fire to digest lots of information quickly), focused, studious, and intense. They thrive on efficiency and crave competition. These types make good teachers and are often our lawyers or doctors, and also actors (you have to have a lot of passion and determination to make it in the industry).
A Pitta out of balance they can tend towards rashes, burning indigestion, acne, liver issues, inflammation, ulcers, anger, agitation (towards self and/or others), controlling behaviors, or burn out.
The element of water and earth make up Kapha Dosha. Kapha is "that which holds things together". Kapha is the heaviest and densest of the three energies.
The energy of Kapha encompasses the qualities of cool, moist, heavy, dense, stable, cloudy, and smooth.
In the body this looks like an endomorph body type, short and stocky limbs, dense, thick and strong bones, round face, round and large eyes, soft and gentle gaze or facial energy, and smooth and soft skin or clamy skin.
Kapha Personality: Kapha's are grounding and calm. These types look like those sturdy big football players that are just big teddy bears at the heart. Perfect examples of Kapha's are Opra Winfrey and Michael Oher from the movie The Blindside (actor- Quinton Aaron). Opposites from Vata, Kapha's are great at slowing down as they are already generally slower in nature with everything they do. They eat slowly, walk slowly, talk slowly, and take in information slowly. Because of their stable and holding quality however, once a Kapha finally digests the information, they tend to retain it very well. They have great memories. Kapha are loyal, calm, supportive, and natural nurturers.
Out of balance, Kapha can tend towards weight gain, edema, feeling sleepy or sluggish, and lack of enthusiasm for life, type 2 diabetes, congestion, water retention, hypothyroidism.
We have our own unique mind-body type. Discomfort, illness, and disease arise when a Dosha is out of balance- too high or vitiated relative to our unique type or balance of the Doshas. By understanding the nature of our inherent balance and the nature of our current imbalance, we can begin to take the steps back to ourselves.
What's my Doshic Constitution?