OCT 15, 2020

Ayurveda

By Health Plus

Ayurveda originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is considered to be the oldest healing science. The practice is based on the concept that health and wellbeing is achieved through a connectedness to the universe, and by maintaining a balance between the body, mind, and spirit.

At the root of Ayurvedic philosophy are the 5 universal elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements are combined in the body to form three basic types of energy or functioning principles known as doshas.

It is believed that every person is born with a unique mixture of all three doshas; one dosha is typically more dominant than the others. Each dosha controls a different function in the body and is responsible for a person’s physiological, mental and emotional health. 

The 3 Doshas: Vata, Pitta & Kapha

  1. Vata (Air & Space): The vata dosha controls internal movement in the body such as breathing, circulation, and elimination. People who are vata dominant are creative, energetic, and restless. They are usually slim, prone to dry hair, skin and nails and tend to feel cold. Vatas are inclined to have digestive issues, anxiety, insomnia and poor circulation.
  2. Pitta (Fire & Water): The pitta dosha rules the digestive system and metabolic functions in the body. Known to be intelligent, tenacious, and goal-oriented, pittas are natural leaders. Pittas have a medium or athletic build and are sensitive to warm temperatures. When out of balance, they are likely to become short tempered or angry and develop indigestion, heart disease and high blood pressure.
  3. Kapha (Earth & Water): The kapha dosha controls body structure, muscle growth and the immune system. Kaphas are calm, affectionate, and empathetic people. They have a sturdy, strong frame and a slow, deliberate manner. An imbalance in kapha can lead to weight gain, lethargy, asthma, mucus build up and depression.

Ayurvedic Protocols

The goal of an Ayurvedic lifestyle is to prevent illness and improve your overall health, wellness and vitality. And while there are some general principles that apply to everyone, Ayurvedic protocols are very person specific. When developing customized therapeutic plans Ayurvedic practitioners take dominant dosha and physical and emotional conditions into account. 

Diet & Nutrition

Each dosha has a set of guidelines for what to eat and how to prepare meals. It is recommended that you avoid foods that are similar to your dosha. For example, to create warmth in the body, vata should eat warm, moist foods while the fiery pitta needs to limit spices and have cooling, energizing meals. In general, Ayurvedic medicine encourages eating healthy whole foods and plenty of fruits, grains, vegetables, legumes and fiber.  

Herbal Medicine

Herbs are used in food preparation and in treating specific health conditions. They are combined into powders, teas, tonics and oils to help boost immunity, calm nerves, improve digestion and support detoxification. Some of the most well known herbs that have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic Medicine are Turmeric, Holy Basil or Tulsi, and Ashwagandha. 

Massage

While there are various types of Ayurvedic massages, the most well known methods are abhyanga and dry brushing.

  • Abhyanga is a full body massage that uses warm essential oils to help eliminate toxins and stress. The oils are applied from the soles of the feet to the top of your head with light, circular strokes. As with all Ayurveda therapies, the massage oils are tailored to your dominant dosha and are often infused with herbs. Studies have shown that abhyanga can reduce stress, stimulate the lymphatic system to cleanse and revitalize the body.
  • Dry Brushing is a do-it-yourself massage technique that involves using a dry, natural fiber bristle brush on dry skin before a shower. Dry brushing stimulates blood flow, exfoliates the skin and increases lymphatic drainage to help your body fight off infection. Starting at the feet and working upward, long brush strokes are used on the limbs combined with gentle circular motions on the torso and back. Lotion is recommended after showering to lock in moisture.

Lifestyle Practices

To cultivate the connection between the mind, body and spirit, Ayurveda encourages practicing yoga and meditation. While yoga gently strengthens and tones the body, meditation will enhance inner peace and increase mental clarity. Incorporating these practices into your life will help you maintain inner balance and connectedness and generally promote wellbeing.

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