A full discussion of yoga would be incomplete without the inclusion of Ayurveda principles. Ayurveda is such a huge topic, that it would take hundreds of pages of text to cover the full expanse. It would be like trying to explain a full medical school program in a weekend workshop. So I will give just a snapshot here of what I have learned about Ayurveda in practical terms and how it has influenced my daily life as well as some resources you may enjoy for learning more.
Ayurveda translates from sanskrit to mean “life knowledge” and is the ancient Indian system of medicine and healing. Ayurveda is a complete system of health for the mind, body and spirit.
Ayurveda says that there are five elements of nature: earth, water, fire, air, and space which are in every living organism. Of these five, three predominate called doshas.
- Kapha, or earth
- Pitta, or fire
- Vata, or air
Doshas are qualities that can create imbalances in our bodies and cause disease. The doshas each have their own characteristics, some of which align with parts of own personalities.
A few online tests you can take to determine your dosha:
Typically one or two dosha’s will be predominate–for example I am mostly Pitta with some Kapha–but we each have varying degrees of all three doshas and their balances can vary based on environment, diet, stress, and overall health.
Characteristics of the Doshas:
Kapha– Intuition, stability, compassion, patience and kindness. When out of balance that energy can become lethargic, heavy, and sluggish. Kapha season is the spring and kapha hours in the day are from 6-1o in the morning and evening. Kaphas tend to have strong, solid body types and have abundant dark hair. Skin tends towards oiliness.
Pitta- fiery nature and include passion, discipline and leadership. When out of balance that energy is apt to short tempers and agitation (sounds just like me!). Pitta season is the summer (reflecting the ‘fire’ heat of summer). Pitta hours are midday. Pittas can be prone to rashes or other skin issues and have normal/combination skin.
Vata– creative, animated, social creates. When out of balance may have short attention spans and can be flighty. Vata is the dosha most associated with the spirit. Vata season is winter. Their skin tends to be more dry and their bone structure petite.
So, what does all of this mean on a practical level? In my studies, I have learned that being too high in one Dosha puts you out of balance and that you must specifically focus on balancing the doshas to keep your body at optimal health and your emotions and spirit in harmony and happiness. Watch for future articles about how you can apply Ayurveda to your life through diet, sleep, exercise and more to lead a more balanced and healthy life.
Resource to explore: Ayurveda-The Science of Self-Healing by Dr Vasant Lad