Ayurveda. While the word may be unknown to many, this holistic approach to medicine has been around for over 5,000 years. Ayurveda is the “traditional, ancient Indian system of health science” and known to be one of the oldest medical systems in the world. This type of holistic practice focuses on preventative measures, as well as the balance between body, mind and spirit. It encourages such balance through diet and nutrition, exercise, yoga and meditation and your overall lifestyle.
Those who practice Ayurveda also hold the belief that every person contains 5 elements: fire, water, earth, air and space. When combining these elements, you form what are referred to as doshas or “the essential forces (or life energies) behind an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional makeup”. There are three doshas, which are known as: Vata, Kapha and Pitta. While everyone has a combination of all doshas within them, most people have a dominant dosha.
Vata: Consisting of elements of air and space, this dosha is generally described as cold, light, dry and spacious. People who are dominant in this dosha tend to be slim in build and have energetic and creative minds. They are almost always on the move and thinking about the future.
When Vata is in excess, you might feel anxious, forgetful and experience insomnia and short-term memory loss. To regain balance with this dosha, it’s important to combat stress with meditation or yoga, follow a routine and maintain a warm body temperature.
Pitta: Those that are dominant in this dosha, formed by fire and water, tend to have medium-built bodies and are able to gain muscle easier than the others. Mentally, they are ambitious, focused, and work well on a schedule. Pittas can also be seen as intimidating and even aggressive, due to the high standards they put on others (and themselves).
When Pitta is in excess, they might start to feel more impatient, angry or experience overheating and indigestion. To balance this, Pittas should focus on finding the right work-life balance and learning to manage stress. Also, unlike the other two doshas, Pittas are naturally more sensitive to heat, which is why they should work to maintain a cooler body temperature.
Kapha: Comprised of water and earth, people who are dominant in Kapha tend to gain weight easier and be bigger-boned. Mentally, they are compassionate, easy-going and natural caregivers. However, due to their automatic desire to care for others, they often neglect their own self-care.
When Kapha is in excess or experiences an imbalance, you might feel heavy, fatigued, and stagnant. To combat this and find balance, it’s important to maintain regular exercise, eat a healthy diet and avoid napping or oversleeping.
At this point, you may be wondering why or how the practice of Ayurveda and the three doshas apply to you? The focus and goal of Ayurveda is to achieve balance in your everyday life. Figuring out what your dominant dosha is can open many doors, from recommending certain foods that work best for your constitution to determining the type and amount of physical activity you should being doing.
The great thing is you don’t have to adopt an Ayurvedic lifestyle overnight (or at all, if you don’t want to). Implementing certain practices in your routine, such as healthy eating and exercise are important no matter what you practice. Ayurveda also encourages the practice of self-care, which is important to help prevent stress, burnout and live a general happier and healthier life.
It’s also important, if you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda, to consult your primary care physician before implementing. However, the final decision is yours and what fits best for you, your health and your overall lifestyle.
Guest Blogger: Mollie Clupper, Public Ally
Mollie Clupper is working as a Public Ally AmeriCorps Apprentice for MHA. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with her fur-niece.