Ayurveda is a health and wellness system thousands of years old. The word Ayurveda is a Sanskrit compound that means “the science of longevity.” Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health and wellness that focuses on balancing the mind, body, and spirit. It’s based on the belief that each person has unique needs and requirements for optimal health. Ayurveda basics for beginners is an introduction to the main principles.
Ayurveda is An Ancient Health and Wellness System
Ayurveda is a system of natural healing that originates in India and has been practiced there for thousands of years.
It considers the mind, body, and spirit as one whole – not separate entities. It also factors in environmental conditions such as weather, climate, season, and geography when determining your individual needs for health.
The first step in the Ayurvedic approach to health is a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor, or “vaidya.” The vaidya will perform an examination of your tongue, skin, and pulse. These three diagnostic tools are used by Ayurveda practitioners to determine your dosha type as well as other important information about your body such as whether you have any imbalances or diseases.
The vaidya will then prescribe remedies that are specific to your dosha type, as well as general health maintenance practices such as diet and exercise. A typical consultation will last approximately one hour.
Balance is the Key to Ayurveda
The key concept in Ayurveda is balance (or maintaining balance). In fact, this principle of balance applies to every aspect of life: body, mind, and spirit;
- our relationship with ourselves and others
- our environment
- work/play cycles; etc.
The foundation for this system of thought is the three doshas: Vata (air), Pitta (fire), or Kapha (water). These correspond with our bodies’ five elements: ether/space (Vata), fire/lightning (pitta), and water/liquid(Kapha)…
The Three Doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha
The Ayurvedic concept of doshas describes how we experience the world, how we feel physically and emotionally, and what types of illnesses are most likely to affect us. If your constitution is Vata dosha, for example, your body is more prone to constipation and anxiety than someone with Pitta dosha. Knowing your dosha helps you understand what foods are good or bad for you based on your unique body type.
According to Ayurveda, our dosha can be either Vata (irregular, dynamic), Pitta (even-keeled, passionate), or Kapha (stable, slow) in nature. When all three doshas are in balance, we experience optimal health.
- Vata governs movement.
- Pitta governs digestion and metabolism.
- Kapha is responsible for structure and stability.
Each dosha has different characteristics, and these are often reflected in the physical attributes of an individual.
When our doshas are imbalanced, we experience symptoms of illness. For example, when Pitta is out of balance it can manifest as anger and irritability; when Vata is imbalanced it may show up as anxiety or restlessness. Kapha dosha can lead to feelings of heaviness or sluggishness.
Other Factors that Determine Your Dosha are
- the time of day
While you can use your doshas to determine your most likely reactions, there are other factors that also play a role. The time of day, season, and age can have an impact on how you feel. Your doshas can also change throughout your life. For example, you may have a Vata imbalance when you are younger but experience Pitta imbalances as an adult. It’s important to pay attention to how your body feels on a daily basis so that you can make changes if needed.
Vata types tend to be more anxious in the early morning hours but calm down as the day progresses.
Pitta types can become irritable during the middle of the day and need some downtime before they start feeling better again.
Kapha types become sluggish as evening approaches; however, once it’s dark their energy levels begin to pick up again.
Health Problems Can Occur When Your Dosha Levels Are Out of Balance
Ayurveda describes three elemental forces: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each is associated with a particular organ system in your body.
- Vata governs the nervous system
- Pitta the digestive system
- Kapha the endocrine system
When your doshas are in balance, you tend to be in better health. When your doshas are out of balance, you tend to get illnesses.
For example, if you spend too much time at work without taking time to rest (a Vata-increasing activity), you’re likely to experience stress or exhaustion as a result of an imbalance between your Vata and other doshas. In order to restore balance, it’s important that we understand what causes each dosha to be unbalanced in the first place so we can adjust our behavior accordingly—for example, by eating certain foods or taking certain herbs that help calm our nerves or support digestion and metabolism respectively—and maintain good health over time
Understanding Your Dosha
Understanding your dosha can help you eat a healthy diet and take care of yourself better.
The word dosha literally means “fault” or “defect” in Sanskrit, but when we use it in an ayurvedic context, it refers more broadly to your body type, personality, and constitution.
The first step to getting started with Ayurveda is to understand your dosha. Dosha is one of the most important concepts in Ayurveda because it helps you understand how to eat a healthy diet, take care of yourself, and live in a way that supports your health and well-being.
The foundation of Ayurveda is the belief that all living things are connected. When our bodies are out of balance, it can cause disease and discomfort in our lives. But when we follow the principles of Ayurveda, we can maintain a more balanced life with less stress and anxiety about how we’re feeling physically or emotionally on any given day.
There are three doshas—Vata (air/ether), pitta (fire), and Kapha (water)—and each one represents different elements within us: Vata governs movement; pitta controls digestion, and Kapha supports immunity and lubrication.
Understanding the role of these three doshas will help you understand how to eat a balanced diet for your body type as well as how best to take care of yourself physically and mentally on a daily basis.
Share this with friends and family members who are transitioning to a healthier lifestyle.