What Is Ayurveda?
Thought to be around 5,000 years old, Ayurveda – meaning “knowledge of life” in Sanskrit – is an ancient medical system originating from the Vedic culture in India. Even now, it is still integrated into daily life in India and practiced by many worldwide. Essentially, Ayurveda is an individualized system of medicine. It sees each human as being uniquely individual and having his/her own relative expression of health. What is medicine to one person may be poison to another and vice versa. The philosophy not only takes in physical health but encompasses a complete sense of well-being. The aim is to get you in touch with your true nature so you can celebrate life with a full embodied sense of wellness.
- Endomorphs have a solid, heavier body type.
- Ectomorphs are light with long, thin limbs
- Mesomorphs naturally have a more athletic physique.
Although these categorizations have proved to be useful in assessing an individual’s exercise and diet programs, they are limited in that they only consider the physical aspects. Ayurveda has its own versions of the body types, known as the doshas. They are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. According to the Ayurvedic tradition, each of these body types is made up from a combination of the five elements that make up everything in our universe: air, fire, water, earth, and ether (space).
All three doshas are present in everyone, but the ratio from individual to the individual can vary exponentially. Your own personal constitution is called Prakriti and was established within you from conception. Our blend of the doshas gives us a blueprint for optimal health and significantly influences our physical, mental and emotional traits. No one dosha is better than the next. That being said, to be in a healthy state of being, it is important that each dosha is balanced within the body.
Vata is the most powerful of the three doshas. It is in charge of all movements within the body, including walking, breathing, digestion and the regulation of the nervous system.
The characteristics of a predominantly Vata dosha are as follows:
– Thin, light and agile
– Has changeable moods
– Has short bursts of energy followed by bouts of fatigue
– Dry skin and hair
– Usually cold hands and feet
– A quick, imaginative mind
– Artistic, creative and intuitive
– Can suffer from anxiety and nervousness
– Loses weight quickly
Where Vata is responsible for movement, the energy of Pitta is responsible for transformation. As the combination of fire and water, pitta is neither still nor moving. Instead, it spreads, much like a forest fire or a river running into the ocean.
The characteristics of a predominantly pitta dosha are as follows:
– Naturally athletic, muscular build
– Has a strong appetite
– Can maintain a healthy weight easily
– Gets hot easily
– Has good concentration
– Natural leader
Kapha acts as the nourishment of our minds and bodies. This dosha helps lubricate the joints, moisturize the skin and support the immune system. Essentially, it is the embodiment of loving, compassionate, watery energies.
The characteristics of a predominantly Kapha dosha are as follows:
– Good memory
– Heavier build
– Slow in movement and deliberate in action
– Well organized
– Can often feel lethargic especially after meals
– Patient and loving
– Thick, soft hair