Ayurveda is a holistic lifestyle that originated in India centuries ago when the sages wanted answers to life’s most important questions. Many of which we still need answered today. How does this life work? What is man’s place in this world? How do we live in harmony with each other, ourselves and nature? And especially how do we stay healthy, happy and young? They contemplated on these questions in deep meditation and the insights they gained lie at the basis of what we call Ayurveda today.
Ayurveda means knowledge of life and revolves around the qualities of the 5 elements in nature; earth, water, fire, air and ether. It is said that everything on the physical plane is made up of a unique blend of these five elements. This holds true for trees, rivers, mountains, animals as well as human beings and our food.
Each of us is made up of the 5 elements but we all have our own unique combination. The fire element may be present in a higher ratio in you expressing itself through a high energy level, strong appetite and passionate nature. While your friend with her loving, caring attitude, curvy frame and thick wavy hair will probably have more qualities of the earth element represented in her body and mind.
This specific combination of elements is called a constitution or dosha in Ayurveda and we know 3 main elemental types. Vata types are governed by air and ether which generally makes them light in build with active minds and bodies. In balance they are social, inquisitive and creative people. Out of balance they can quickly change moods, become nervous or anxious, have a hard time concentrating or sleeping and suffer either from serious weight loss or fluctuating weight. The fire and water elements govern the Pitta dosha. This type has loads of energy, is very charismatic, practical and ambitious, often athletic in build and makes a great teacher or leader. When disturbed the fire flairs up making Pitta’s irritable, judgemental, impatient and sometimes even aggressive. They are prone to any kind of inflammation, from mouth sores to liver ulcers, and are most likely to have a burn out due to overworking. Finally the Kapha dosha is governed by earth and water and is in many ways the glue of our society. Kapha’s are kind, loving, warm and flexible people and will often have a stocky or curvacious build. Out of balance they may become lazy, lethargic or even depressed. They are also the ones that will gain weight the easiest of all three types and have a harder time losing it.
Many of us have 2 of the 3 dosha’s dominating our constitution making us a Kapha/Pitta, Kapha/Vata or Pitta/Vata type. In this case when trying to balance ourself we look at the dosha that is currently out of balance or is most easily triggered and make sure to restore balance in that dosha first.
Next to lifestyle what and how we eat is one of the most important ways of balancing the dosha’s. We do this by choosing foods with the opposite qualities from our dosha. So for example Kapha’s who exhibit more of the heavy ans slow qualities of earth and water need lighter, energizing foods that will fire them up and get them moving. Pitta’s need pure, sweet and mild foods that will cool them down and soften their hard edges. Where as Vata’s should mostly eat grounding, warming foods to balance their active, light natures.