Ayurveda is an ancient and natural health-care tradition originating in India over 5,000 years ago. It gives us the knowledge of how to live in harmony with our bodies for a healthy, happy, stress-free life. (The term Ayurveda literally means, ‘the science of life’).
It is based on knowledge of the five elements and three doshas which help to determine our unique constitution. Throughout our lives these five elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth) combine with each other to give rise to the three bio-physical forces (doshas) within the human body – Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth).
Together they are known as Tridosha and govern all the biological, physiological and psychological functions of the mind and body, both physical and emotional, as well as affecting how an individual interacts with everything around them.
Every individual has within them all three biophysical forces, but it is the dominance of any one or two or all three that makes up a person’s individual constitution or Prakriti.
Although a person’s dosha type is determined at the moment of conception, doshas are constantly shifting within the body. Just as the five basic elements fluctuate within nature, these elements will also fluctuate within the body. Therefore, the dosha dominance changes with age, time of day or night and the season etc. When the doshas become out of balance, this is where physical, mental or emotional problems arise.
Ayurveda seeks to treat the mind, body and spirit according to a person’s dosha using a variety of treatments which could include diet, herbal remedies, detoxification, yoga, Ayurvedic massage as well as some suggested lifestyle changes.
Treatment in Ayurveda is completely unique to the individual as no diet or lifestyle works for all types of people. Once a patient is well, prevention of illness is of vital importance, making Ayurveda a very healthy and beneficial lifestyle choice.
The Three Doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha
Vata governs movement and the qualities on display are light, dry, quick, cold, airy. Vata types tend to be thin and are quite tall or quite little. In balance a Vata type is creative and adaptable but out of balance fear and anxiety may arise.
Digestion, metabolism and temperature are controlled by Pitta. The qualities of this dosha are hot, sour, acidic and pungent. People who are Pitta dominant have good digestion and are athletic. In balance Pitta types are intelligent, logical and sharp witted. Out of balance they are irrational and easily angered.
Kapha governs bones, muscles and teeth. It has qualities which are slow, steady, heavy and cold. Kapha types are physically strong with a sturdy build. In balance they are loving, nurturing and grounded. Whilst out of balance they can be needy, melancholy and sluggish in mind and body.