Ayurveda “The Science of life” is an Indian system of natural medicine that has become most popular here in the West due to its well tested and timeless approach to health which is drawn from the laws of nature and is tailored to one’s unique individual constitution. Ayurveda is a way of life that places as much emphasis on maintaining health as it does on preventing and curing disease, believing that “health is the absolute harmony of body, mind, spirit, sense organs and intellect”.
Having a history of over 5000 years it stands as the most ancient and comprehensive natural health system in the world and is the original source of many modern natural healing therapies. Becoming familiar with the concepts of Ayurveda and discovering your unique individual constitution or dosha (vata, pitta or kapha) will enable you to live in a way that maximizes your health and enjoyment of life.
Ayurveda places great emphasis on The 3 pillars of health to bring about and maintain health.
You may have heard of the 3 dosha…
Ayurveda is based on the concept of five elements – space, air, fire, water and earth and the varying proportions in which they exist within each of us make up our individual constitutions or dosha. It is when these proportions get knocked out of balance that we have problems with our health. Our dosha are responsible for our physical and psychological make-up and tendencies. They are vata (space and air), pitta (fire and water) and kapha (water and earth).
Vata is our life force, our Prana
Those of us with a predominately vata constitution are tall or petite, have irregular appetite, digestion and menstruation. We don’t like the cold, tend towards constipation, have cracking joints, dry skin and brittle hair. Mentally we tend to be creative, flexible and excitable but can be ungrounded, anxious, nervous and fearful. When out of balance they can suffer from mental, nervous and digestive disorders, low energy and immunity and disorders related to the muscular–skeletal system.
More information on Vata constitution and typical disorders.
From physical appearance to digestion, almost everything about vata is changeable and irregular. Physically they usually have a light flexible body, either tall or petite, are generally slim but their weight can fluctuate. They may have irregular physical or facial features. They also have irregular appetite and digestion, sometimes hungry sometimes not, with a tendency towards constipation. They often have knobbly crackling joints, rough skin and brittle hair due to dryness. They won’t like the cold and can have bad circulation. With females their menstrual can be irregular, scanty and painful. Vata is naturally prominent early morning, afternoon, in autumn and in the later stages of life when signs of old age begin to set in.
Although vata constitutions have less stamina than pitta and kapha they are active, restless and find it hard to relax. They are light sleepers and can suffer from insomnia, often running on nervous energy which can leave them completely depleted. For this reason vigorous exercises like running are not recommend for vata. They are easily excited, fast talking, can act without thinking, change their minds often and get bored easily. When focused vata makes good money but spends it frivolously. They enjoy being with lots of people but also need their space. They love travelling.
When in balance vata people are creative, imaginative, flexible, clear, light, happy and healthy.
When out of balance they can become ungrounded, spacey, anxious, nervous and fearful and suffer from mental, nervous and digestive disorders, low energy and immunity and disorders related to the muscular–skeletal system; arthritis, gout, joint problems, paralysis, neuralgia, muscle wasting, emaciation, fibromyalgia, ME, CFS, paralysis, irregular and painful periods, IBS, colitis, ADHD, anxiety and stress.
Pitta governs our digestion, metabolism and hormones
Those of us with a predominately pitta constitution have a medium build, toned physique, sharp penetrating eyes, sensitive skin and are prone to early greying and baldness. We have regular appetite, elimination and menstruation. Mentally pitta is organised, motivated and confident but can be controlling, obsessive, critical, jealous and irritable. When out of balance we can suffer from digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, blood/liver/spleen problems, skin complaints and stress.
More information on Pitta constitution and typical disorders.
Pitta people tend to be in proportion, have a medium build, sharp penetrating eyes that are sensitive to light, a pointed nose, sensitive reactive pale skin, moles and freckles. They tend towards early greying and baldness. Pitta has a strong appetite and can get angry and irritable if hungry. Physically they have moderate strength and sex drive. They like routine and sleep well unless there is something on their minds. Females have a regular heavy menstrual cycle during which they can become irritable and hot. Pitta is naturally prominent midday, midnight, in summer and in the middle stage of life where transformation from child to adult takes place.
Pitta people are natural leaders, organised, systematic, motivated, focused and confident. They are intelligent with a great capacity for learning, understanding and concentrating. Usually having a good profession, they make a lot of money which they spend carefully on luxurious items.
When in balance pitta endows us with drive, intelligence, courage, decisiveness, vitality and motivation to accomplish our goals. On the other hand when out of balance they can be firey, controlling, obsessive, perfectionist, critical, judgemental, intolerant, jealous, are easily angered and don’t suffer fools gladly.
Physically pitta are prone to too much heat in their systems from stress, over exercising, sun, spicy food, alcohol etc. and can manifest symptoms such as diarrhoea, indigestion, hormonal imbalances, ulcerative colitis, heartburn, ulcers, skin disorders, blood/liver/spleen problems, migraine and stress.
Kapha is our structure and protection
Those of us with a predominately kapha constitution are physically strong, well developed and are generally quite attractive. We have a slow metabolism, with tendencies towards comfort eating, excess weight and fluid retention. Mentally kapha endows us with emotion, feeling, compassion, loyalty, patience and tolerance but can be lazy, depressed, greedy and averse to any change. When out of balance there is much stagnation and build-up of mucus or toxins which manifest as digestive complaints, congestive disorders, lung problems, heaviness and lethargy, obesity and cholesterol.
More information on Kapha constitution and typical disorders.
Everything about kapha is slow and consistent, they are slow thinkers and learners but have good memory and retention of information. They have more stamina than both vata and pitta and can therefore endure a lot of exercise which benefits them. Unfortunately you rarely see kapha on a treadmill as they prefer to engage in less vigorous activities. Needless to say they are heavy sleepers and like a good 10 hours in the sack. They are steady and devoted lovers.
When in balance kapha endows us with emotion and feeling, compassion, love, faith, calmness, strength, loyalty, endurance and stamina. They have lots of patience and tolerance but have tendencies towards laziness, despondency, depression, greed, unspontaneity and an aversion to change. Security is important to them; as a result they are careful with money but can spend frivolously if feeling emotionally low.
Physically kapha are prone to too much stagnation and a build up of mucus and toxins in their systems which manifest in disorders such as mucus congestion, lung problems, congestive disorders, heaviness and lethargy, sinusitis, asthma, water retention, obesity, cholesterol, constipation, arthritis and diabetes.
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