What is Ayurveda?
By Lipsa Shah
A Quick Overview
Ayurveda, which translates to “knowledge of life” can be dated back to 5,000 years ago. Although you will often hear Ayurveda referred to as a sister to yoga, Ayurveda precedes yoga. Ayurveda addresses everything that makes life worth living; it deals with the physical body and healing yourself naturally, which will in turn heal your spirit. True enjoyment of your life is possible only when there is true health, aka living your best life!
Ayurveda categorizes everything - our minds, interactions, food, energy - as a mix of five basic elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space (sometimes called ether). Each individual has a unique makeup of these elements in their bodies, a pre-set constitution determined at the moment of your conception that remains intact throughout one’s entire life. This pre-set constitution is your dosha, or Prakriti, your ayurvedic constitution. Your own constitution was determined by the condition of your mother’s and father’s bodies at the time of your conception. The elements in a person's constitution can be affected by lifestyle, diet, exercise, and all the other small variables in life.
The three doshas that the five elements condense into are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Most people are a combination of two, but it is possible that you are a balance of all three!
Air, dry, cold, light, mobile. Vata people are generally more ethereal than other people. They very literally tend to “go with the flow.” Think Bob Marley, “because every little thing is gonna be alright.” Bob Marley was definitely primarily Vata! These individuals can be sensitive and react quickly to changes in their environment. They can be the life of the party, but also burn out very quickly. Vata people tend to grind their teeth while sleeping and often sleepwalk or wake up feeling unrested.
Fire, hot, intense. These individuals have more fire in them than others. They are naturally aggressive and impatient. Pittas are strong and truly a force to be reckoned with. Think of the friend who will boldly, unapologetically let you know that yellow is not your color! They are dedicated to their own self-development and make friends easily. Pittas go to bed easily, sleep lightly, and wake up alert, ready to take on the world.
Earth, stable, grounded, heavy. Kapha individuals tend to be more grounded and also tend to store fluids and fats more easily than others. Kaphas mostly enjoy the pleasures of home and family. Their patience is their strong-suit and while they typically take a longer time to make friends, any friendships established are lasting. Kaphas sleep heavily and also wake up feeling rested.
Balancing Your Dosha
Ayurveda teaches us that if a dosha is in excess, that’s when imbalance happens in your body in the form of sickness or disease. It is common that our predominant dosha is likely to increase the quickest because we tend to do what we know best.
One of the most practical aspects of Ayurveda is that anything can be used as medicine because everything that exists is made up of elements. This includes but is not limited to herbs, food, drinks, environments, colors, smells, etc.
Learn More About Ayurveda
As you can see, a primer for Ayurveda is tough because it is in every single aspect of your life. For now, I’ll leave you with this information to absorb. Our upcoming Ayurveda workshops at Midtown Yoga will be a great way to learn more about the topic and how to apply it to your life.
If you’re interested in learning about your dosha or wanting to hear more about it, you can take this quiz and I am always happy to recommend any books or discuss this fascinating concept in-depth.