Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. Although suppressed during years of foreign occupation, Ayurveda has been enjoying a major resurgence in both its native land and throughout the world. Tibetan medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine both have their roots in Ayurveda. Early Greek medicine also embraced many concepts originally described in the classical ayurvedic medical texts dating back thousands of years. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential. Providing guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior and the proper use of our senses, Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.
Doshas According to Ayurveda, each of us inherits a unique mix of three mind/body principles which creates our specific mental and physical characteristics. These three principles are called doshas. Most of us have one or two doshas which are most lively in our nature, with the remaining one(s) less significant. The three doshas are known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
If we are predominantly Vata, we tend to be thin, light and quick in our thoughts and actions. Change is a constant part of our lives. When Vata is balanced, we are creative, enthusiastic and lively. But if Vata becomes excessive, we may develop anxiety, insomnia or irregular digestion. If the Pitta dosha is most lively in our nature, we tend to be muscular, smart and determined. If balanced, we are warm, intelligent and a good leader. If out of balance, Pitta can make us critical, irritable and aggressive. If we have mostly Kapha in our nature, we tend to have a heavier frame, think and move more leisurely and are stable. When balanced, it creates calmness, sweetness and loyalty. When excessive, Kapha can cause weight gain, congestion and resistance to healthy change.
Using the principles of Ayurveda, we can identify our mind/body nature and use this understanding to make the most nourishing choices in our lives. It is common for people to have a blend of characteristics and usually one will tend to be dominate.
When Vata is out of balance, too much air has accumulated in mind, body, and environment. The result is a sense of un-groundedness. The best way to balance excess Vata is to bring more earth and stability into the physiology. Think relaxing.
· Go to bed and awaken at the same time every day · Meditate twice a day to quiet the mind · Practice yoga to connect with your body · Wear Relaxing fragrances · Eat three meals per day and favor sweet, sour, and salty tastes · Perform a slow daily self massage with warm relaxing herbalized oil · Drink herbal tea · Look for opportunities to create rhythm and routine in your life · Diffuse relaxing fragrances into your environment · Finish things once you start them
When Pitta is out of balance, too much fire has accumulated in mind, body, and environment. The result is a sense of internal and external combustion. The best way to balance excess Pitta is to bring more space and coolness into the physiology. Think soothing.
· Spend time outside and in nature · Favor cooling tastes – sweet, bitter, and astringent · Meditate twice a day to soothe the mind and relax the body · Schedule some space in your day · Perform a slow self-massage with herbalized oil · Wear soothing fragrances · Favor cool, soft colors – blue, green, and white · Drink herbal tea · Diffuse soothing fragrances into your environment · Try to be more playful · Engage in non-competitive physical activities · Eat with full awareness · Stay cool
When Kapha is out of balance, too much earth has accumulated in mind, body, and environment. The result is a sense of sluggishness, congestion, and dullness. The best way to balance excess a Kapha is to bring more movement and circulation into the physiology. Think invigoration.
· Awaken at sunrise · Look for opportunities to create healthy change · Favor pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes · Avoid eating when you’re not hungry · Be spontaneous and try new things · Wear invigorating fragrances · Clean out your space · Drink invigorating herbal tea · Diffuse invigorating fragrances into your environment · Favor bright strong colors – reds, oranges, yellows · Meditate twice a day to get clear on your intentions and desires · Perform a vigorous self-massage with warm invigorating herbalized oil · Exercise daily!
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