Ayurveda 101: A Path to Optimal Health
Just as yoga has become popular and familiar in the United States, if you haven’t already, you will begin to hear more and more about Ayurveda.
Pronounced Ah-Ur-Vey-da, this ancient 5,000+ year old healing tradition developed in India is both a healing science and way of living.
Knowledge of the Ayurvedic approach to living empowers you to understand your true nature, including which foods, herbs, healing practices and ways of being support your best health — your best skin, your best body, your best state of mind.
Simply put, Ayurveda is all about living in harmony with nature, your own unique nature (a.k.a mind-body type) and the nature around you. This includes all aspects of your daily life and the environment in which you live — the time of day, season of the year, stage of life.
When you live in harmony with nature, you’ll have optimal health and radiant natural beauty. Your body will operate at it’s highest level, self-heal and give you the energy you need to fulfill your purpose in the world.
According to Ayurveda, all of nature is made up of the five elements, the building blocks of life:
These five elements and their qualities – such as cold, hot, moist, dry, heavy – combine to form the three doshas known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
The three doshas are the forces that govern all functions within nature from human physiology (such as circulation, metabolism and digestion) to the cycles of the day and the seasons of the year.
The 3 Doshas: Understanding Your Mind-Body Type
Since the five elements are the building blocks of life and form the three doshas, each and every one of us has the three doshas at work in our mind-body, however, most of us have one or two doshas that’s most dominant within our physiology. This identifies your mind-body type. Here’s a simplistic and brief over view of the three key dosha types.
Vata Mind-Body Type
- Elements: Ether & Air
- Qualities: Light, Dry, Cold, Mobile
- Physical Attributes: Tall & Long, Thin, Petite, Small Eyes, Prominent Joints
- Balanced Emotions & Personality Traits: Enthusiastic, Energetic, Adaptable, Artistic, Spontaneous, Bubbly
- Unbalanced Tendencies When Stressed: Anxious, Overwhelmed, Indecisive, Hyperactive, Overly Talkative, Fearful, Forgetful
- Common Physical Challenges: Dry Skin, Constipation, Insomnia
Pitta Mind-Body Type
- Elements: Fire & a little Water
- Qualities: Hot, Light, Sharp, Intense, Slightly Oily
- Physical Attributes: Medium Build, Muscular, Deep-Set Eyes, Angular Face, Rosy Complexion
- Balanced Emotions & Personality Traits: Perceptive, Intelligent, Discerning, Independent, Natural-Born Leader
- Unbalanced Tendencies When Stressed: Overly Critical, Anger, Controlling
- Common Physical Challenges: Burning Indigestion, Diarrhea, Acne, Skin Rashes
Kapha Mind-Body Type
- Elements: Water & Earth
- Qualities: Heavy, Cool, Moist, Soft, Stable
- Physical Attributes: Large Bones, Stocky, Soft/Plump Skin, Thick Hair
- Balanced Emotions & Personality Traits: Nurturing, Compassionate, Content, Stable, Reliable
- Unbalanced Tendencies When Stressed: Attached, Materialistic, Reclusive, Lethargic, Greedy
- Common Physical Challenges: Overweight, Excess Mucous, Sinus Congestion, Depression
Healing the Root Cause of Disease
My personal journey with Ayurveda grew out of a longtime interest in natural health, along side my efforts to lose weight (I was never one who could eat anything and not gain weight), as well as a desire to understand the root cause of disease.
The notion that people get sick ‘just because’ or due to genetics alone never seemed like the complete answer to me.
When I lived in Tampa, FL back in 2000, a new city where I knew almost no one and had a lot of free time on my hands, I was drawn to the alternative medicine sections of bookstores and scoured their shelves for hours.
I learned about nutrition, natural remedies, detoxification, chakras, yoga, mind-body medicine, essential oils and more, however, it wasn’t until I came across Ayurveda that I found a complete system of healing that tied everything together.
The science of Ayurveda incorporated all the natural healing modalities I had been reading about, and also gave a framework for understanding how, why and when to apply them — which is not the same for every person.
Most intriguing was Ayurveda’s explanation for how disease and poor health form out of an imbalance of the doshas, and that the early stages of these imbalances can be seen way before a diagnosable disease develops.
How to Get Started with Ayurveda
Learn more about Ayurveda and start to implement it’s wisdom in your life by first identifying your constitution (unique mind-body type).
Begin by taking this short questionnaire. While online dosha quizzes provide insight into your constitution and doshic imbalances, receiving a complete assessment by a trained Ayurvedic practitioner can provide more clarity and deeper understanding that online quizzes cannot.
My consultations also include customized food, lifestyle, herbal and other therapeutic recommendations along with education and coaching to help you overcome obstacles that get in the way of your best health.
I’d Love to Hear From You
If you already implement Ayurvedic wisdom in your life, how had it benefited you? If you’re new to Ayurveda, what question(s) came up for you as you read this post?
Leave your answer or comment below.