Ayurveda is the oldest medical system in the world. Like yoga, it is also indigenous to India. It has been practiced 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”. The three doshas are known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Within the body, each dosha has specific mental, physical and emotional characteristics and handles certain functions, such as digestion, hormonal activity and communication.
VATA = Air + Space Vata controls all communication and movement: circulation, breath, voice,nerve function, transportation of nutrients to cells and excretion of waste. Vata is also associated with creativity, intuition and adaptability.
PITTA = Fire + Water Pitta is responsible for transformation and ‘getting things done’: digestion, metabolism of nutrients, production of cell energy and the intellect. Pitta also ignites our passion, courage and self-esteem.
KAPHA = Earth + Water Kapha’s role is stability, lubrication and protection: bones density, structure of cell membrane, synovial fluid, moucous, as well as growth and development from fetus to adult. Emotionally, Kapha is governs compassion, reliability and memory.
Health and Dis-ease
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, recipes, daily routines, herbal remedies, poultices, breathing techniques, yoga as well as other therapies such as oleation, massage and energy balancing.
Because we are all unique, each person requires a customized food plan, yoga practice and specific lifestyle suggestions catered to their needs. Success and healing lie in the art of creating a tailor-made routine for the individual and simultaneously empowering that individual to observe their own natural rhythms and make conscious choices towards health and happiness.
NOTE: It is important to note that Ayurveda is not meant to be a substitute for Western medicine. It is best as preventative medicine. In the case of a serious health issue, ayurveda is a wonderful lifestyle complement to the allopathic system, meaning ayurveda helps patients maintain good digestion, strong immunity and rest while receiving Western medical treatments like antibiotics, chemotherapy, mood-stabilizers, etc.
My Journey with Ayurveda
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. I am happier and more aware of my own personal needs and I strive to teach others how to do the same. Ayurveda has also heightened my intuitive skills making me more sensitive to the needs of my yoga students and my Ayurvedic clients.