Ayurveda and its Place in Today's Modern Western World.

 
 Photo credit: https://www.yogafit.com/images/trainings/orig/x1434566905.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Lh388nVKwv.jpg

Photo credit: https://www.yogafit.com/images/trainings/orig/x1434566905.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Lh388nVKwv.jpg

 

Ayurveda is the father of all medicines. It originated many practices from plastic surgery to iridology to tongue reading. The ancient science of Ayurveda is about prevention - it is much easier to maintain health than to regain health - through meditation, yoga, daily self massage and nutrition that align with your constitution or dosha. It is a holistic health system concerning the mind, body and spirit.

Ayurveda instructs the concept of Prakriti, or an individual’s true nature determined at conception. By understanding that everyone has a unique identity and genetic makeup, we are able to raise our awareness regarding what nutrition and activities assist each person in functioning at an optimal level and which weaken our essential nature. Prakriti is an Ayurvedic concept that can be described as your fundamental constitution that is determined at conception. Because our prakriti is determined at conception, it refers to our genetically encoded characteristics and traits that are influenced by the doshic constitution of the mother and father, the weather at the time of conception, as well as the intention and overall well-being of each parent. In this context the Sanskrit translation would be, ‘nature; original state or disposition’. Each person’s constitution (prakriti) is unique as it consists of different proportions of each the three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Find your dosha here.

So, what are doshas? ‘Doshas are the great elemental forces, or bodily intelligences, that govern all our psycho-physiological functions, structures and tendencies.’(1) As previously stated, there are 3 doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each dosha is made up of the 5 elements that compose our physical world: ether, air, fire, water and earth.

Vata is composed of ether and air, so Vata people are light, cold, dry, changeable and irregular. Dryness causes them to be prone to dry hair, skin, colon (constipation) and eyes, as well as lung conditions. Their changeability leads to variations in appetite, digestion, energy, thoughts and motivation. Lightness means they may have trouble gaining weight and can be light sleepers. Coolness denotes they may have cold feet and hands and chase the sun. They are creative and open-minded but can be erratic, ungrounded and anxious. The Vata mind moves very fast, which means they can forget things easily. When in balance a Vata is very enthusiastic, creative and spreads positivity.

Pitta is composed of fire and water, therefore Pitta types are intense, sharp, penetrating and warm. The fluid component of this dosha means they can have oily skin, hair and loose bowel movements. Pitta’s heat denotes intense appetite, digestion and energy levels, but it can also make them sensitive to hot weather, become angry easily and prone to inflammation, skin rashes and heart and liver conditions. Their intensity can translate to being hypercritical and incredibly organised. A balanced Pitta is joyful, dynamic and focussed.

Kapha is composed of water and earth, hence their slow, cool, heavy, damp and unchanging nature. They love to do everything slowly, hence their slow digestion, metabolism, elimination, speech, thought and action. Sometimes they love to do nothing at all. Their unchanging nature means they are grounded and compassionate. Heaviness can manifest in the mind and nervous system as melancholy or depression. The damp component can make them prone to excessive mucous and pneumonia. They have excellent memories. When balanced, a Kapha is very supportive and stable.

The principle of Ayurveda is that: like increases like, and opposites decrease. So each person is to remedy their imbalance by cultivating qualities that are less pronounced in their constitution. Vata dosha needs routine, calm, warm, oil, discipline and consistency. Pitta dosha needs moderation, cool, calm, to breathe more and enjoy the little things. Kapha dosha needs change, stimulation, challenge, light and heat.

We are constantly bombarded with an excess of sensory stimuli regarding what is or is not healthy. But if you know your own unique nature, you can peacefully follow a holistic tailor-made lifestyle that fosters balance and acceptance.’(1) Ayurveda is centred around moderation in everything, It doesn’t endorse extremities of any kind. This is so relevant today as we live in a society where we have to be more, want more, do more. In the modern world there is a predominance of Vata. We are constantly surrounded by noisy environments with endless distractions like advertising and technology. This increased influence of Vata can fan Pitta and push Kapha into places it shouldn’t be in the body. The recipe to cure a Vata imbalance is: Dr Quiet, Dr Diet and Dr Merryman (calm, nutrition and joy).

By Alyssa McLeod

 

Footnotes

(1) & (2) http://earthsongayurveda.com/sample-post/

References

BlissBody&Soul. 2016. Guide to Eating for Balance & Bliss - BlissBody&Soul. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.blissbodyandsoul.com/eating-balance-bliss-six-tastes/. [Accessed 26 September 2016].

Prakriti- your unique body type | earthsong ayurveda. 2016. [ONLINE] Available at: http://earthsongayurveda.com/sample-post/. [Accessed 26 September 2016].

The Chopra Center. 2016. Designing a Yoga Routine for Your Dosha. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.chopra.com/articles/designing-a-yoga-routine-for-your-dosha. [Accessed 26 September 2016].