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