The 5000 year old science of Ayurveda is more nuanced and artistic than it is exact. Its strange to me that more people don’t know the basics of this elemental modality of health and spiritual progress. The traditional model of nutrition in western culture never really hooked me, because I always knew every body was different. How could one set of rules be right for everyone? With our endless fad diets and miracle cure food crazes, we have bought into the idea that foods can be inherently good or bad. Could it be possible that something as healthy and celebrated as the avocado be both nutritious and poisonous depending on the person, the season, and even the time of day? In Ayurveda there are no good foods or bad foods. Every food has a positive and a negative aspect. The central tenet of Ayurveda is bringing the body and mind into balance, through nutrition, lifestyle and spiritual development.
Most everyone who knows a little about Ayurveda knows about the doshas. Your doshic makeup or prakruti is your individualized roadmap to what foods, exercises, times of day, people, places, thoughts, etc, will influence you most, and in what ways. The idea is that everything in nature is made up of the same 5 elements, but with proportions as unique as a fingerprint. Vata types, are made up of air and ether. The characteristics of these elements are light, dry, fast, and cold. Vata type people are typically thinner, always on the go, and more likely to notice symptoms like constipation or bloating. Pitta people are made up of fire and water, light, hot, oily and movable. They have a medium build with good muscle tone, are discerning, motivated and ambitious, and can have a hot temper when out of balance. Kapha dosha is the dosha of earth and water, slow, cold, heavy and moist. Kapha people tend to be a little heavier, with soft skin and hair, big eyes, and melodious voices. They can be easily subject to feelings of depression, and lack of motivation when out of balance.
What I love most about Ayurveda is the idea that the different tissues of our bodies effect our psychological well being. Each tissue type or “dhatu” is made of its own composition of the five elements, fueled by the power of our digestion. When our digestive fire, or “agni” is working properly, the by-product of that process directly builds the corresponding tissue type. For instance, fat tissue is made up of primarily water and earth elements, these elements have a nourishing and stabilizing effect on the organism, directly effecting our ability to feel and send love. If the digestive fire is not working properly, it is either delivering too much or too little of the building blocks needed to maintain a healthy balance of fat tissue, and a healthy feeling of self love and love for others.
If you are interested in how Ayurveda might help you in your life, I recommend taking a dosha quiz. Once you know your dosha, you’ll be able to find the right foods, herbs, and practices best suited for your personal composition. Keep in mind, that the doshas effect more than just your physical body. They also play into the world around us. The spring equinox brings the start of Kapha season. So kapha type people may feel it is easier to fall out of balance with all the kapha influence so prevalent. Whatever you interest level, Ayurveda is both simple and complex, so you can tailor whatever tips and tricks you’ve learned to fit your lifestyle.
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