So what’s the deal with Ayurveda you ask? Why are people using all these weird Indian spices and jargon to talk about their health habits? As if vegan, gluten-free and paleo were not enough, right? Here are the basics to get you started off right.
Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health developed in India over 3,000 years ago. It’s based on the idea that when the body is balanced and the mind is clear, we can heal ourself from most of our common ailments. Conversely, sickness occurs because of mental and physical stress and imbalance. When we are stressed, our bodies release hormones that cause damage at the cellular level and especially in our digestive system.
So an Ayurvedic approach to healing involves nurturing a healthy mind through meditation, sufficient sleep and rest, and returning to a balanced state in the body through an herbal and dietary approach. This part of Ayurveda is most likely what you’ve heard of before.
The Ayurvedic system posits that everything in the world is made of the five elements: space, fire, air, water and earth. The human body is composed of three energies (called Doshas), each of which is a combination of two of these elements: Vata Dosha (air and space), Pitta Dosha (fire and water), and Kapha Dosha (earth and water).
Ayurveda says that each of us is primarily powered by own of the doshas. Each of the Doshas is responsible for different bodily functions. Since we’re all composed of a different mix of the Doshas, this means that we are predisposed to certain behaviors and ailments.
The Vata Dosha is in charge of the core life support systems of your body like thinking, breathing, blood flow, heart function and excretion. If your primary dosha is Vata, the health conditions that you need to guard against are stress, anxiety and heart disease. Vata is associated with winter and so people of this type are said to have cold hands and are extra sensitive to cold temperatures.
The Pitta Dosha is in charge of digestion and metabolism. Pitta folks are more likely to suffer from infections, skin problems, inflammations, burn out, high blood pressure and also heart disease. Foods that are aggressive on the digestive system like acidic or spicy foods can cause issues. Pitta is associated with summer and so people of this type are said to have a short temper.
The Kapha Dosha is responsible for our muscles, bones, balance and immunity. To keep it at optimal functioning, it’s best to get regular sleep, avoid stimulants and keep sugar and salt levels to a minimum. People whose primary energy is Kapha are more vulnerable to chronic issues like cancer, diabetes and obesity. Kapha is associated with spring and so people with this Dosha are said to be more relaxed and easy going.
According to the Ayurvedic system, when our Dosha levels get imbalanced, we become more susceptible to illness. So to get healthy, we need to rebalance our Doshas. Similarly, if you know which Dosha you are and structure your diet based on this, you are more likely to prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place.
So if you’re wondering if it’s right for you or not, all we have to say is this: there are millions of people all around the world that swear by Ayurveda and no one was ever harmed by it. So you have nothing to lose by trying it out 🙂 Be well, be healthy, eat natural and wholesome foods!