THE ANCIENT WISDOM OF AYURVEDA
The science of life for living in balance
Ayurveda is an ancient wisdom deeply rooted in Mother Nature. As we are all created from, exist in and return to nature…all of nature is part of every individual. The ancient scriptures related to Ayurveda remind us that life is a relationship between the body, mind and consciousness working together to maintain balance. They are simply viewed as different facets of one’s being (the inner universe/microcosm) and of the universe the outer universe/macrocosm).
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, the entire cosmos is an interplay of the energies of the five great elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Ether and Air. Earth represents the solid state of matter. Water is the liquid state that characterizes eternal flow. Fire is the power to transform and illuminate. Air is mobile and eternally dynamic. Ether is the space in which everything exists. These five elements manifest as patterns present in all creation.
The Five Element Theory
Earth - Smell - Nose
Fire - Vision - Eyes
Water - Taste - Tongue
Ether - Sound - Ear
Air - Touch - Skin
Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or constitutions that are present in everybody and everything as Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which are combinations and permutations of the five elements. Energy is required to create movement so that fluids and nutrients get to the cells, enabling the body to function. Energy is also required to metabolize the nutrients in the cells, and is called for to lubricate and maintain cellular structure. Vata is the energy of movement, Pitta the energy of digestion or metabolism and Kapha the energy of lubrication and structure.
MOVEMENT – Vata is composed of Ether and Air and is the subtle energy associated with movement. It governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart and movements in cytoplasm and cell membranes.
METABOLISM – Pitta is made up of Fire and Water and expresses as the metabolic system of the body. It governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature.
STRUCTURE – Kapha is formed from Earth and Water and is the energy that forms the body’s structure, bones, muscles, tendons, and provides the “glue” that holds the cells together. Kapha supplies water for and lubricates all bodily parts and systems.
Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages maintaining health by paying close attention to balance in one’s life through right thinking, diet, lifestyle and herbs. Just as everyone has an individual face or thumbprint, according to Ayurveda, each person has a particular pattern of energy – an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics, which is his or her constitution. All people are comprised of Vata, Pitta and Kapha elements, but one is usually primary , one secondary and the third least prominent. To determine your own primary energy pattern (generally referred to as your “dosha”), take the quick test on TARA’s Constitutional Analysis Card.
Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create balance of body, mind and consciousness according to one’s own individual constitution and how to make lifestyle changes to bring about and maintain this balance. The following sections provide more in-depth descriptions of the characteristics that make up Vata, Pitta and Kapha constitution types.
The Energy of Movement
People with a predominately Vata constitution are blessed with a quick mind, flexibility and creativity. Lifestyle considerations for Vata constitutions is to “ground” or stabilize motion. Routine is helpful to effectively ground all of the Vata individual’s moving energy.
General guidelines for balancing Vata:
- Keep warm
- Keep calm
- Avoid raw foods
- Eat warm foods and spices
- Avoid extreme cold
- Avoid cold foods
- Keep a regular routine
The Energy of Movement
People with a predominately Pitta constitution have many of the qualities of fire: hot, penetrating, sharp and agitating. Pitta people have warm bodies, penetrating ideas and sharp intelligence, but can also become very agitated and short-tempered.
General guidelines for balancing Pitta:
- Avoid excessive heat
- Avoid excessive oil
- Avoid excessive steam
- Limit salt intake
- Eat cooling foods
- Eat non-spicy foods
- Exercise during the cooler part of the day
The Energy of Lubrication and Structure
People with a predominately Kapha constitution are blessed with strength, endurance and stamina. They have sweet, loving dispositions and are stable and grounded. Their skin is oily and smooth and they tend to gain weight due to a slow metabolism.
General guidelines for balancing Kapha:
- Get plenty of exercise
- Avoid heavy foods & dairy
- Avoid iced food & drinks
- Vary your routine
- Avoid fatty, oily foods
- Eat light, dry foods
- No daytime naps