Ayurveda means the science of life. It is an ancient system of healing dating as far back as one thousand B.C. This is a complex philosophy of medicine guided by the rhythms of nature. You don’t have to fully understand the principles of Ayurveda in order to benefit from some of the practices. But first you must learn about your true nature, your constitution, your body type. For example, are you thin, medium or heavy set? Is your skin dry, moderate or oily? Do you feel cold or hot most of the time? In Ayurveda this is called your Dosha. There are many things that determine your Dosha and equally as many books to help you figure it out. The Book of Ayurveda by Judith H. Morrison is a good introduction to the practice. It offers suggestions for diet, lifestyle and meditation, including the questionnaire that will help you discover your true Dosha.
The three Doshas are VATA, PITTA and KAPHA. They each have both positive and negative qualities. Here are some generalizations about each one, but keep in mind that we all have a combination of the three Doshas. The question is which is your predominate Dosha? VATA is airy, thin, dry, intelligent and sometimes changeable. PITTA is fiery, medium build, sharp, hot and sometimes angry. KAPHA is grounded, heavy boned, loving and sometimes lazy.
Ayurveda teaches us daily routines that can help balance our Dosha. We learn that through nutritious food, proper sleep, meaningful work, good friends, and moderate exercise we can pacify our particular Dosha. For example, someone who is predominately Vata will not do well with frequent air travel. After a flight you may feel depleted or run down. This is understandable because Vata types are already airy, flighty, they need to be grounded even in the literal sense. So Vata types should probably not have jobs that call for weekly travel. Just as Pitta individuals do not do well on beach vacations. They are always complaining about the heat and looking for a bit of shade. But if we are aware of our tendencies, we can nurture ourselves in the appropriate way. This in turn will increase our energy, build our immune systems and delay the disease process. In future posts I will guide you through some simple routines to help improve your overall well being. The subject of Ayurveda is fascinating and it can be a wonderful tool to help you maintain a balanced mind and body throughout the rest of your life.