What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is an ancient healthcare tradition that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. Made up of the Sanskrit words ‘ayus’ (meaning life – comprising the mind, body, sense and soul) and ‘veda’ (meaning ‘knowledge’ or ‘science’), Ayurveda is literally translated as ‘the knowledge/science of life’. This medical system uses the inherent principles of nature to help maintain health in a person by keeping the individual’s body, mind and spirit in perfect equilibrium with nature.
Ayurveda is based on the premise that the universe is made up of five elements; air, fire, water, earth and ether (space). These elements are represented in humans by three ‘doshas’, or energies; Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When any of the doshas accumulate in the body beyond the desirable limit, the body loses balance. Each individual has a distinct balance, or ‘prakriti’, and our health and wellbeing depend on keeping the right balance of these three doshas. Ayurveda determines specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to help individuals reduce the excess dosha and to find harmony for the mind, body and spirit.
Each individual is made up of the below three doshas, but in different proportions – most people will have one or two that predominate. Factors such as stress, unhealthy diet, weather and personal relationships can influence the balance that exists between a person’s doshas. These unbalanced energies can leave individuals more susceptible to disease and poor health.
Vata energy is associated with air and ether (space) elements, and is generally seen as ‘the force’ that directs bodily movement, respiration, blood circulation, nervous system activity, digestion and elimination. It is present all over the body where there are hollow spaces, but mainly found in the large intestine, bladder, ears, bones and skin.
Vata energy is said to predominate in people who are lively, creative and original thinkers. When out of balance, vata types can suffer joint pain, constipation, dry skin, anxiety and other related ailments.
Pitta energy is the combination of fire and water elements – the transformational energy, or heat, that governs metabolism and the endocrine systems. The balance of digestions, thirst and hunger are all controlled by pitta, as well as hormonal changes, skin health, vision and intelligence.
People with pitta energy are considered fiery in temperament, smart and fact-paced. When out of balance, ulcers, inflammation, digestive problems, anger, heartburn and arthritis can result.
Kapha energy is linked to earth and water elements, and is responsible for growth, strength and protection. Mainly situated in the chest, throat, joints, stomach, nose and tongue, kapha helps lubricate the inner and outer body.
Kapha types are considered strong and solid in constitution, and generally calm in nature. Obesity, diabetes, sinus problems, insecurity and gallbladder issues can occur when kapha energy is out of balance.