The word “Ayurveda” actually translates to “the science of life,” and it represents a natural healing modality that was developed thousands of years ago in India. Today, the Western world is learning more about this school of medicine and its ability to bring balance back to both the mind and the body, especially because holistic medicine is also gaining in popularity due to the incredible results it can provide. If you seek an introduction to the world of natural healing, take this course on the foundation for optimal health.
What is the Ultimate Goal of Ayurveda?
Instead of merely treating a disease by alleviating or masking the symptoms associated with it, Ayurveda works on a deeper level, accessing the root cause of a condition and then working with the body, rather than against it, to help it heal itself naturally.
Ayurvedic doctors look at the entire constitution of an individual they treat, rather than simply analyzing the physical body. They ask questions regarding an individual’s upbringing, any traumas they may have experienced throughout life, their mental and emotional struggles and strengths, and where they are spiritually as well. When all of these facets of an individual are combined and looked at holistically, the appropriate treatment plan can be provided to bring an individual back to a state of health in mind, body, and spirit.
What Types of Treatments Are Included in Ayurveda?
Ayurvedic therapies often include a combination of nutritional recommendations, herbal remedies, yoga postures, and meditation. This is not a one-size-fits-all medical program. Rather than offering everyone the same advice, Ayurvedic specialists look at an individual closely and prescribe the remedies that would work best for that person. Therefore, the herbal remedies that you might be prescribed in order to bring your body back into balance may be completely different from the herbs that are prescribed to your sibling or your parent. This is because Ayurveda understands that not all treatments, diets, or lifestyles work for all people.
Instead of relying upon the use of prescription drugs, Ayurveda focuses on the lifestyle habits and diet of patients. It assists the body in what it is already capable of doing, which is purifying and healing itself. Check out this blog post, which features a few of the most effective detoxifying foods you can try, in order to gain some perspective on what an Ayurvedic specialist may prescribe if he or she felt your body was too toxic.
What are Ayurvedic Body Types?
Ayurveda categorizes people into three different doshas, or body types. While each individual has all three doshas in body and mind to some degree, everyone is born with a predominant dosha, or a combination of doshas, that affect physical and mental strengths and weaknesses. However, your dosha can become imbalanced as you age and experience stress and disruptions throughout life.
When your dosha is out of balance, you experience mental, emotional, and physical discomfort that can manifest in a variety of ways. For example, you may feel chronically fatigued, you may have a skin condition, you may become ill, or you may even find it difficult to concentrate. The key to figuring out how to bring your body back to a state of health lies in first determining what your dosha is and then working with specific treatments that will bring balance back.
The Three Doshas
By taking a look at your physical body and your current mental and emotional state, you can determine what dosha, or doshas, are out of balance. Then you can work on providing yourself with the proper herbs, exercise routines, such as this transformational yoga program, and recipes that will bring your dosha back into balance so that you can reap all of the benefits of that dosha without having to deal with the negative effects that result from it being out of balance.
Each dosha is also associated with an element and its energy. Therefore, understanding the nature of these elements will help you better comprehend how the doshas affect you on a deep level. You may wish to take this course on Eastern medicine and energy psychology to better understand these concepts.
Vata is the dosha associated with the air element. It also has to do with movement, and it can actually influence the other doshas as well. When there is too much vata, or too much air and movement in the body, you may find it difficult to sleep, you may feel anxious and nervous for no apparent reason, and you may be unable to focus on your work. On the other hand, when vata is balanced, it produces plenty of energy, enthusiasm, and creativity, with the acceptance of change.
Vata bodies tend to be petite and thin, as well as agile. Bouts of fatigue are common, though, because energy occurs in short bursts rather than for sustained periods of time. Cold extremities and dryness of the hair and skin are also characteristics associated with this dosha. Digestion can be sensitive, so when a vata is out of balance, constipation, weight loss, and digestive issues can manifest. Other ailments associated with this dosha are weakness, arthritis, restlessness, and hypertension.
On the emotional level, vatas enjoy new and exciting experiences. They anger quickly but also have the capacity to forgive, and they can also be surprisingly flexible. They enjoy conversation and taking the initiative with projects, especially if they can be creative. But when imbalanced, a vata may feel guilty, overwhelmed, fearful, and stressed.
Pitta is associated with fire, so it is all about transformation. It governs metabolism and the production of energy, as well as digestion—all areas of the body that require a lot of heat. This heat or fire tends to manifest itself in the body and the mind as well, though, so keeping a pitta in balance is important because an out-of-balance pitta can be extremely angry, while a pitta that is balanced can be highly intelligent.
Physically, pittas usually have medium sized bodies and average weight. And because they have such strong digestive systems, they can typically eat just about anything. Pittas also have strong sex drives and warm body temperatures, unlike vatas who tend to be cold. When in balance, the pitta body will sleep well, have plenty of energy, and enjoy a great complexion. But when this dosha is out of balance, physical ailments, such as indigestion, heartburn, ulcers, excessive heat, rashes, and burning sensations can occur. Thinning hair and balding are also common.
Emotionally, pittas are able to focus and concentrate on their work very well, as they are also very intelligent. They make great leaders, such as speakers, teachers, and decision makers within a company, because they are sharp and outspoken. But when this fire takes over, the individual can become short-tempered and ready to argue at a moment’s notice.
Kapha is the dosha associated with earth, which is the most grounding element. It governs the overall structure of the body and is associated with every building block within the system. It is also associated with protection. A kapha that is in balance will be very loving and forgiving, but when out of balance, this type of individual can become very jealous and insecure.
On the physical level, someone with a predominance of kapha in the body will be strong and large. Even the eyes can be large. Because kaphas are moist, they tend to have great skin, as well as thick hair. These individuals enjoy regular digestion and great sleep each night. But even though all of these physical benefits can be derived from a kapha that is in balance, when imbalanced, this dosha is associated with weight gain, allergies, and fluid retention. A person may need too much sleep, they become depressed, or they may suffer from ailments like asthma and diabetes.
A kapha is typically calm and quite loving by nature. Emotionally, they feel content just following a routine and being loyal and supportive of others. Kaphas also tend to be very patient, making them great listeners and friends. But this loyalty and commitment can go too far when a kapha is out of balance. The tendency to hold onto relationships, jobs, and objects for too long is common in kaphas because they do not know when it is best to let something go after it no longer serves them. Imbalanced kaphas can be very resistant to change, and they can be very stubborn as well. They may also run away from stressful situations because they would rather not deal with them at all.
Treating Your Dosha
Once you have established what dosha is out of balance in your body and in your mind, you can then take steps to heal your ailments by bringing the elements associated with the doshas back into balance. You can try Ayurvedic yoga or you can take a course on how to cook for your dosha to start incorporating some of Ayurveda’s most basic principles into your life. Just remember that Ayurveda is all about treating the entire body, right down to the spiritual level of your existence, by utilizing natural remedies only, from herbs to nutritional supplements and even aromatherapy. If you follow its teachings correctly, you may be able to avoid harsh prescriptions and get to the root of your ailments so that you never have to deal with them again.