Are you suffering from physical tension and tightness? Dealing with extreme fatigue and mental sluggishness? Is digestion causing Acid Reflux, cramping and gas pain? Are you stiff and have joint pain? Are you having trouble staying asleep? What drives you? Who drives you? These are just a few questions that we can explore.
Together we can explore the principles of Ayurveda that have helped millions of people, to bring more peace, health, and inner joy into their own lives. In our extremely fast-paced, high stressed lives, we are pushing ourselves into sickness and imbalance. It is time to tune into your body and mind! It speaks to you each and every day and we must listen. The answers lie within.
Ayurveda literally means “knowledge of life” and its scope is truly no less encompassing. While the tradition is thought to be over five thousand years old, Ayurveda remains as relevant as ever—and it is enlivened every day as individuals around the world engage its timeless wisdom in their day-to-day lives. What I love about Ayurveda is that it focuses on the individual not the collective: Everyone is unique!
Ayurveda is a remarkably individualized system of medicine. The tradition is rooted in the idea that each of us is born with a completely personal blueprint for optimum health. From birth onward, it is this reference point—your constitution—that, in many ways, defines who you are. No two constitutions are exactly alike; therefore, no two human beings can have precisely the same expression of ideal health. While there are certainly some practices that are considered to be beneficial for most everyone, Ayurveda places the focus firmly on you, the individual concerned. This is why an assessment of your constitution, your current state of balance, and a set of personalized recommendations to support you in your journey towards optimal health—can be such an empowering resource. Among many other reasons why I love Ayurveda so much, one of the biggest reasons is that it encompasses the body, mind and spirit and is multi-dimensional in its approach. From yoga to breath work, to herbs, food choices and meditation, Ayurveda looks at the whole body in trying to bring it back to balance and harmony.
The importance of the Five Elements
Ayurveda recognizes five elements as the fundamental building blocks of nature—earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space). Every substance, every cell, contains all five of these elements. It is the influence and importance of these elements that determine how we finely tune ourselves to allow our digestion, our sleep, our immunity, our hormonal balance, our state of mind to flow optimally and prevent us from disease. When we are in perfect harmony, there is no disease.
The Three Doshas
Vata, Pitta, Kapha. These Doshas each embody a particular combination of elements and qualities to create a functional entity—an energetic force of nature. The doshas, or some combination of them, can be identified in various seasons, climates, ages, landscapes, activities, etc. In the context of our bodies, all three doshas are necessary to facilitate important physiological functions. But if they accumulate beyond healthy limits, the doshas can also wreak havoc on our health.
Vata: Air and Ether:
Qualities: Dry, Light, Cold, Rough, Subtle, Mobile, Clear
Vata is the energy of air and ether, movement and impulse, creativity and connection.
This dosha governs breathing, the pulsation of the heart, muscle movement in general, nerve impulses, sensory perception, communication, and our capacity to experience flexibility, joy, and expansive consciousness.
In excess, vata can cause fear, anxiety, physical and emotional constriction, un-groundedness, poor circulation, constipation, dry skin, and more.
Those who are born with more of the space and air element have a vata constitution. Generally, a vata person will be very thin, more talkative, restless; they typically have a lower body weight, dry skin, brittle nails, thin hair, and small, slightly sunken eyes. While walking, their joints may make sounds. In terms of climate, they tend to prefer warm or hot weather, while they may have trouble tolerating the cold. They have a hard time gaining weight, so they tend to be thin. They are creative, passionate, exciting and adventurous.
Pitta Fire and Water:
Qualities: Hot, Sharp, Light, Liquid, Oily
Pitta is the energy of fire and water, digestion and transformation.
This dosha governs appetite, digestion, absorption, assimilation, intelligence, charisma, courage, and ambition.
In excess, pitta can cause anger, jealousy, inflammation, excessive heat, heartburn, loose stools, migraines, rashes, bruising, bleeding disorders, sharp hunger, an overactive metabolism, and difficulty sleeping.
Next are pitta people, those who are born with hotter constitutions, containing more of the fire element. A pitta person is generally active, good looking, a perfectionist, dynamic, intelligent and also short tempered. They may have leadership qualities, a moderate build, a smart personality, a sharp nose, and their eyes will also be sharp. Due to the unfortunate ease with which a pitta person gets imbalanced, hair loss and early greying are common. They are generally slightly warm to the touch with rosy lips and pink nails with a slight curve. They make great leaders, orators and organizers.
Kapha: Water and Earth:
Qualities: Heavy, Slow, Cool, Oily, Smooth, Dense, Gross cloudy, Sticky
Kapha is the energy of water and earth, structure and cohesiveness, grounding and stability.
This dosha governs nourishment, growth, lubrication, regeneration, fluid balance, fat regulation, strength, stamina, memory, and our ability to feel compassion and contentment.
In excess, kapha can cause attachment, greed, resistance to change, lack of motivation, heaviness in the mind and body, excessive sleep, depression, a sluggish metabolism, congestion, water retention, hardening of the arteries, and the formation of masses and tumors.
Kapha indicates the water and earth element. People with this kapha constitution are generally cool, calm, lazy, cheerful, stocky (if not overweight). If assigned a task, they never complete the task in time. Actually, Ayurveda says that because a kapha person is the least bothered, happiest type of person on the whole planet, the best constitution is kapha. They’re cheerful all the time! Other qualities include a thick build, thick, dark hair, big eyes with white around, and prominent, shiny, white teeth. The skin may also be thick, moist, and a little cool to the touch. As a personality type, while they tend to accumulate stuff, they also have a sharing streak that moves them to service for society.
All three doshas are present in everyone, but the ratio between them varies a great deal from one person to the next.
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What is Ayurveda?
What is Ayurveda? Ayurveda is more than 5,000 years old, and is known as the knowledge or “science of life.” Ayurveda is perhaps the most complete system of holistic living, that embraces the psychology, lifestyle, philosophy and health of each individual. It is based on the idea that the universe is composed of five basic elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) which combine to form the three vital energies or doshas. When our doshas are properly balanced, we are healthy and happy. When they are not balanced, then we become unhealthy. Ayurveda is a system that uses the bodyʼs own defenses to restore and maintain health, happiness and balance into your daily living. Ayurveda brings in daily rituals or self-care practices that can help ward off illness and imbalances. It is important to take time in your day (even just a few minutes) to take care of yourself.
Ayurveda can Benefit:
• Balancing of the Vata (Air), Pitta (Fire), Kapha (Water/Earth)
• Digestive Issues
• Emotional Imbalance and Stress
• Low Energy
• Skin Irritations
Here is one great thing you can do for yourself:
What is Abhyanga?
Abhyanga is the anointing of the body with oil. It is has been a staple in Ayurveda for thousands of years. Often infused with herbs or essential oils and usually warm, the oil is massaged into the entire body before bathing. It can be beneficial for maintaining health and is used therapeutically for certain conditions. Abhyanga can be incorporated into a routine appropriate for almost everyone. I tend to use the oil while in the shower when the steam and the moisture can allow for the oil blend to seep in better. Pat dry to allow for some of the oil to remain on the skin.
Benefits of applying oil to the body (abhyanga)
Some of the benefits of abhyanga massage: imparts softness, strength and color to the body, decreases the effects of aging, nourishes the body, balances our sleep patterns, creates a positive subtle barrier to the body and helps with dry skin. These blended oils also enhance tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body, increases circulation, pacifies vata (by calming the body and mind), pitta (by cooling and clearing body and mind), and Kapha (by stimulating and detoxifying the body and mind). Taking care of your body and creating a ritual each day is a wonderful way to start the day grounded and balanced.