Ayurveda; A Beginner’s Introduction For A Balanced Life

“Ayurveda is simply the science of understanding your unique self and being who you are meant to be.” -Manjiri Nadkarni

In Sanskrit, “Ayurveda” means “Science of Life.” As the name suggests, Ayurveda is a holistic form of medicine based on the concept that good health is the result of a balance of mind, body, and spirit.

Achieving good health with Ayurveda involves prescribing dietary measures, lifestyle changes, mindset, meditation, and the use of herbs. That is to say, we can deem that it is more than just a system of medicine; it is a philosophy, or rather, a way of life.

Ayurveda; A Beginner’s Introduction For A Balanced Life

Ayurveda originated in ancient India, and we can trace its roots to the Atharva Veda; one of the oldest treasure troves of Indian knowledge. Classic Ayurvedic texts like the Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, and Ashtanga Hridayam are derived from the Atharva Veda, and they are the cornerstone of modern Ayurvedic practices.

One of the most interesting aspects of Ayurveda is that it is a highly individualized form of medicine. This means that medicines and remedies for ailments will vary from person to person.

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In Sanskrit, “Ayurveda” means “Science of Life.” As the name suggests, Ayurveda is a holistic form of medicine based on the concept that good health is the result of a balance of mind, body, and spirit.

Let’s dig deeper in the basic concepts of Ayurveda

The Ayurvedic principle of Pancha Mahabhuta considers that all things in the world are made up of five elements, which are Earth, air, water, fire, and space.

These five elements work together in different combinations to create different body constitutions or “Doshas”. That is to say, each dosha will have two elements which are more predominant than others. This determines a person’s physical, mental, and emotional characteristics.

The specific mix of doshas in a person’s body is defined before birth, at the time of conception, and doesn’t change throughout the person’s lifespan. Above all, your dosha is unique to you and is called your Prakriti.

 If you wish to enjoy optimal health, simply recognize the predominant doshas in your Prakriti and adopt the appropriate habits to keep the factors in balance. There are several external and internal factors that can cause your Prakriti to sway out of balance. When this happens, you can experience poor health and disease. Fortunately, the practice of Ayurveda allows you to recognize these factors and adopt suitable remedies to counteract their effect and regain health.

The best way to identify your dominant dosha is to consult an Ayurvedic practitioner. If that isn’t possible or if you’re more of an independent researcher like me, you can gain a general idea by studying the different types of doshas and identifying which category best describes you.

For this, let’s try to understand the essential traits of the different doshas.

Types of doshas

Ayurveda identifies three main doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each of these have two dominant elements—Vata has Air and Space, Pitta has Fire and Water, and Kapha has Earth and Water. Your Prakriti is formed by the combination of two doshas, such as Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, and Pitta-Kapha.

To stay healthy, you should maintain the equilibrium of your body based on your dosha. If any element is pushed too much one way or the other, it will affect your dosha and result in ill-health.

Identifying features of each dosha:

 Vata 

 The Vata dosha causes a lean body frame with less tendency to gain weight. Skin is usually dry and rough, with hair and nails prone to splitting and crack. Vata dosha reduces appetite. Vata people will experience quick spells of activity, followed by a tendency to become tired. This dosha causes light sleep and Vata people are prone to anxiety and depression.

Pitta 

 The Pitta dosha results in a medium body structure and reddish complexion. The dosha triggers sensitivity to heat, constant thirst, and a good appetite. Emotionally, Pitta people have short temper. They have fantastic leadership skills and are intelligent and brave.

Kapha 

 The Kapha dosha creates the tendency to gain weight. The skin is smooth with a glossy complexion. Despite excellent stamina, Kapha people tend to be sluggish. The Kapha dosha has good sleeping habits. Emotionally, these people are jovial and easy-going.

When Vata, Pitta, or Kapha in the body become imbalanced, we feel unhealthy. Here are the signs of imbalance and suitable remedies for each Dosha.

Vata – Imbalance

Irregular schedules, eating cold food, staying up late, over-exertion, and starving can imbalance your Vata dosha. This can result in symptoms like constipation, dehydration, weight loss, disturbed sleep patterns, and dry skin.

Simple steps, like consuming warm and heavy foods, the use of mild spices like ginger, black pepper, and coriander and herbal teas can alleviate the symptoms. Most importantly, follow a daily routine to avoid stress and anxiety.

Pitta – Imbalance

Activities like smoking cigarettes, consuming caffeinated beverages and over-working, aggravate the Pitta dosha. An Excess in the Pitta Dosha results in acne, red skin, heartburn, and digestion problems. Also, contributing to joint pain, due to an excess inflammation in the body. It can also cause irritability and frustration.

Balance Pitta Dosha by reducing intake of hot and spicy foods. Try eating boiled and steamed food. Avoid sour yogurt, cheeses, buttermilk and similar food items. Use only mild spices like turmeric, cumin, cardamom, or cloves in your food.

Kapha – Imbalance

Kapha dosha worsens with the intake of heavy, salty and oily foods, reduced physical activities, and excessive sleep. The symptoms include sluggish digestion that causes obesity, water retention, elevated sugar levels, and high cholesterol. This imbalance can lead to greater chances of catching infections and feeling lethargic.

To reduce the effects of the Kapha dosha, eat ripe fruits and boiled, steamed, or raw vegetables. It’s best to avoid sweet and sour foods and use raw honey as a sweetener. Spices like black pepper, cumin, turmeric, and ginger will improve digestion and minimize the effects of the Kapha dosha.

Small imbalances can cause adverse effects on our health. Our society seeks for ways to improve general health. The ancient, natural and self-administered sources of maintaining optimal wellness are becoming increasingly more popular. Introduce yourself to Ayurveda, a back to basics approach to everyday living. This is where we can experience relief from many chronic discomforts and embrace good health, tranquility, and joyful life.

    

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*Disclaimer – Please know that I am not a medical doctor. I cannot cure, mitigate or diagnose anything. Speak to your health-care practitioner regarding what is best for you. This article is simply my perspective and what has worked out well for me.

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