I have always loved the idea of yin and yang, equal and opposite forces at play in the universe. So when I began to learn about Ayurveda back in 2006, I was intrigued. But I didn't fall in love with Ayurveda until my 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training. It was all the talk of food that really stole my heart! For our final project, we were asked to teach a yoga workshop and my group chose "Intro to Ayurveda" as our topic. Today I would like to share with you an overview of Ayurveda so that you might start to weave some of the practices into your own life. This is a small snippet of the information that is available once you start to dig around, and please note that I am not a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner. I just want to share some of the knowledge I have learned!
What is Ayurveda?
“The name “Ayurveda” is derived from two words in Sanskrit, “ayuh” meaning “life” or “longevity” and “veda” meaning “science” or “sacred knowledge.” Ayurveda’s definition therefore roughly translates as “the science of longevity” or “the sacred knowledge of life.” At its root, Ayurveda is a holistic tradition and way of living that can help each of us to claim and celebrate our capacity for wellness.” - From Banyan Botanicals
In Ayurvedic medicine, importance is put on discovering your doshic balance. A dosha is the energy that defines the makeup of every individual, season, object, or activity. The 3 doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. There are quizzes all over the Internet that can help you identify your predominant dosha and give you recommendations for staying healthy and balanced.
Vata- made of ether and air
Kapha- made of earth and water
Pitta- made of fire and water
Prakruti vs. Vikruti
Prakruti is often called your “constitution” but it can be translated as “original creation”. This is the balance of the 3 doshas that tend to be fixed at the time you are born. The balance of the 3 energies show up as your tendencies, and most often, one dosha is stronger than the other 2 throughout your life.
Vikruti is your current state and is translated as “after creation”. Your vikruti is influenced by your environment and habits, and can become imbalanced. When you are taking care of yourself, you may feel balanced and your true prakruti can shine through! When you are sick, stressed, or otherwise not in balance, you may notice that you have symptoms of discomfort or disease. Ayurvedic practitioners always treat the current state you are experiencing, your vikruti, regardless of your constitution, or prakruti.
Using Ayurveda for Daily Wellness
Different objects, foods, and environments also have a dosha. For example, windy places like the top of a mountain could be considered Vata while a damp, overgrown rainforest is likely Kapha. Spicy, hot foods are Pitta while cool, crisp cucumbers are Vata. When you are feeling imbalanced, you can use opposite foods, places, or objects to get you back to equilibrium. When I feel scattered and am overthinking things, I am probably having a Vata imbalance so I will focus on my feet or go move around heavy rocks in my yard to get grounded. If I get angry and frustrated, I might take a cool shower to literally "cool off" my emotions. When I am feeling sluggish, I might eat some ginger to stoke my fire and motivate me to get off my ass! For more ideas on how to balance your dosha, check out my FREE "20 Days of Mindfulness" Guide.
Ayurveda can help keep you physically and mentally healthy when you are mindful about how you feel and what you need to tip the scales in a more balanced direction. This is especially useful when you begin to notice how food can affect your mood and energy levels. I hope you can use some of this knowledge to stay level-headed and healthy in your life. Be well!