A sister-science to yoga, Ayurveda is a healing modality which is also indigenous to India. It has been practiced as a medical system for more than 5000 years and is still highly effective and widely used. The word Ayurveda means “science of life” or “lore of life” in Sanskrit. The guiding principle of Ayurveda is to promote health through the balance of the five natural elements— earth, water, fire, air and space (ether). Due to the unique qualities of these elements, it is believed that their pairing creates three distinct energetic constitutions or “doshas”. Within the human body, the three doshas are known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each has specific mental attributes and handles certain functions, such as digestion, hormonal activity and communication.
VATA is composed of air and space elements and controls all movements in the body’s circulation, breath, voice, transportation of nutrients to cells, communication between nerves and excretion of waste. Vata is also associated with creativity and adaptability.
PITTA, comprised of fire and water elements, is responsible for digestion, metabolism of nutrients and production of cell energy. Pitta also ignites our passion, courage and intelligence.
KAPHA is made up of earth and water elements and handles bones, lubrication, cell membrane structure as well as growth and development from fetus to adult. Emotionally, Kapha is also about compassion, reliability and memory.
Balanced State vs Imbalanced State
Everyone has a unique constitutional balance that combines the five elements and the doshas in unique proportions. Although we have all three doshas present within us, most people have one or two dominant doshas. Each of us has a prakurti, an essential nature that reflects our balanced state or optimum health. We also have a vikurti, which is an acquired state, reflecting our imbalances or health concerns. When treating an ailment with Ayurveda, both the prakurti and the vikurti are taken into consideration.
Ayurvedic treatments include: custom food plans, daily routines, herbal remedies, poultices, breathing techniques, yoga as well as other therapies such as oleation, massage and chakra balancing. (It is important to note that Ayurveda is not meant to be a substitute for Western medicine. It is best used as a complement to the allopathic system.)
Ayurveda + Yoga = THE ULTIMATE BLEND
As a yoga teacher, studying Ayurveda and becoming a certified Ayurvedic practitioner has changed everything for me, from the way I eat to the way I teach. My understanding of yoga, its Eight-Limbs, and its healing process has deepened through the study of Ayurveda. Not only am I happier and more aware of and informed about my own personal needs, I am also more sensitive to the needs of my yoga students and my Ayurvedic clients. Regardless of what statistics might state, Ayurveda has shown me that no one diet nor no one yoga practice is necessarily good for everyone. Success and healing lie in the art of creating a tailor-made routine for the individual and simultaneously empowering that individual to observe his own natural rhythms and make his own conscious choices to lead him towards health and happiness.