Ayurveda has been the traditional health-care of India, which operates as a holistic system for wellbeing. As a healing science, ayurveda encourages values for “correct living” by purifying one’s life through diet, herbs and meditative insight. Initially rooted in India’s Vedic heritage, ayurveda has survived the past 5,000 years and is now influencing people in various countries throughout the world. Accepted as one of the oldest forms of medicine, ayurveda is beneficial in our modern era by encouraging people to live wholesomely.
Practical in application but mystical in approach, ayurveda harmonizes a balance between man and nature. Harmony, according to ayurveda, is achieved through a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle, both of which should be appropriate for the unique characteristics of the individual. Specific intricacies of a person are observed through three forces that form the operational task of the body, which I will now describe.
The Three Principle Energies
In order to observe health, ayurveda outlines three doshas known as vata, pitta, and kapha, which serve as principle energies for the body. These forces have unique responsibilities for upholding health if kept in balance through diet and lifestyle. Observing the nature of each dosha, one is able to witness the ebb and flow of their state of wellness. If not kept in balance, each dosha will act in predictable ways, which is an indication that sickness is manifesting.
Vata dosha provides bodily movements and communication, which is most present in respiration and elimination. When balanced one will have deep and deliberate breathing patterns, rhythmic pulsation of the heart, and consistent bowel movements. When imbalanced, shallow breathing will restrict proper oxygenation, anxiety arises, and constipation can persist. These imbalances can be accompanied with bouts of insomnia or feelings of spaciness.
Vata imbalances have a tendency to be erratic which must be calmed with routine. In order for vata to become more in-sync an individual should take time to focus on deep breathing exercises for at least ten minutes a day preferably in the morning. Vata will also benefit from aligning with set meal times throughout the day, which helps the digestive system recognize an organized digestive pattern.
Guidelines for Vata Management
- avoid raw foods
- consume “earthy” meals, like vegetable stews or baked sweet potato
- use fresh ginger root in teas and in cooking
Pitta dosha is responsible for all digestive functions, which represents the intensity of one’s appetite and how well food is metabolized. When balanced, pitta provides a consistent appetite and feelings of lightness after eating. Furthermore, pitta maintains body temperature as well as forming one’s mental intelligence.
When imbalanced, pitta can cause an array of inflammatory conditions and bacterial infections such as ulcer and nausea. Mentally, pitta can express itself through overly aggressive behavior associated with bouts of anger or jealousy. In order to heal pitta, it’s best to align with cooling foods (alkaline) and calmer routines (swimming) in order for pitta to remain tranquil.
Guidelines for Pitta Management
- restrict salt and acidic promoting foods i.e. chili peppers and night shades
- consume “cooling” foods such as kale, cucumber, and avocado
- avoid unnecessary debate or anger provoking scenarios
Kapha dosha provides strength, stamina, and physical form. Just as a sturdy house needs a strong foundation, kapha acts as one’s base level. Kapha is also the energy of lubrication, which keeps joints and tissues well hydrated. Emotionally kapha creates a compassionate and magnanimous deposition, which alleviates stress. When imbalanced, congestion, stagnation, and weight gain can arise. Further symptoms are clogged sinuses, excessive mucous build-up in the lungs and an overall feeling of laziness.
To balance kapha, movements of all kinds must be implemented. Regular exercise reduces the typical “stuck-ness” kapha has a tendency of becoming. The best routines for kapha are yoga, brisk walking, and biking.
Guidelines for Kapha Management
- keep active everyday
- avoid a diet heavy with pastas, cheeses, and creamy delights
- favor steamed veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and snap peas
The path to wellness
A great ayurvedist is one who is endowed with impeccable inner vision and can recognize potential imbalances by watching the state of each dosha throughout the day. The path to wellness is supported with a desire to seek and maintain the balanced state. In order to support your endeavors with ayurveda contemplate these questions.
- when do I feel most healthy and balanced?
- what actions restrict dosha balance within my personal state of health?
- how are the doshas expressing themselves within my body and mind?
Be Good to Yourself
In order to progress in ayurveda, it’s important to address these questions routinely and remain calm in all moments simply by being “good” to yourself. Start by affirming a deeper understanding of each dosha as it relates to body and mind. Through watching your state of wellness, the path of life will always be clear, and when difficulty arises, your actions will be appropriate. With that in mind, always be optimistic and expect the best as you develop your practice of ayurveda.
Kyle Roberts is an ayurvedic practitioner who spends the majority of his time educating people on aspects of personal transformation through improvement of health. Fusing ancient healing traditions with modern practicality, Kyle offers a unique insight to various ways of understanding one’s place in life. Originally from Florida, Kyle now travels extensively around the world to share the practice of ayurveda. Please visit his website, krveda.com