What is ayurveda?

yogaAyurveda is commonly known as the sister science to yoga. It was developed thousands and thousands of years ago by the sages of India. It actually translates to the “science of life.” Ayurveda has two main guiding tenants. The first states that the mind and body are connected. The second states the nothing has the power to heal the body better than the mind.
Basically Ayurveda is all about bringing the body into balance. The ancient sages believed that meditation is one of the key principles as inner quiet is expanded and it refreshes the mind and restores balance. It is known that during meditation your heart rate slows, your body decreases the production of cortisol and you increase the production of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.
Another basic proponent of Ayurveda is the identification of one’s Dosha. The Dosha’s are Vata,Pitta, and Kapha. The Vata dosha is associated with the energy that controls bodily functions like motion, blood, breathing and blinking. When the Vata Dosha is in balance one is creative and vital. When it is out of balance it may produce fear and anxiety. The Pitta Dosha is the energy which controls the body’s metabolic functions including digestion, absorption, nutrition and temperature. When it is in balance one is content and their intellect is evident. When it is out of balance is can cause ulcers and anger. The third Dosha is Kapha. Kapha is the energy which controls growth in the body. It supplies nutrients to body parts and maintains the immune system. In balance Kapphas a loving and forgiving. Out of balance it can lead to insecurity and envy.

Everyone has all three Doshas, but they are usually overwhelmingly more of one or two. Various Dosha proportions determine one’s physiological and personality traits, as well as general likes and dislikes. For example Vata types will prefer hot weather to cold and Kapha types are more likely to crave spicy foods than other types. Generally these are considered to be characteristics of each mind/body type:

Vata predominant characteristics include Quick to learn and grasp new knowledge, but also quick to forget, Slender; Tall and a fast-walker; Tendency toward cold hands and feet, discomfort in cold climates; Excitable, lively, fun personality; Changeable moods; Irregular daily routine; High energy in short bursts; Tendency to tire easily and to overexert; Full of joy and enthusiasm when in balance; Responds to stress with fear, worry, and anxiety, especially when out of balance; Tendency to act on impulse; Often have racing, disjointed thoughts; Generally have dry skin and dry hair and don’t perspire much.

Pitta predominant characteristics include a medium physique, strong and well -built;Sharp mind, good concentration powers; Orderly, focused; Assertive, self-confident, and entrepreneurial at their best; Aggressive, demanding, pushy when out of balance; Competitive, enjoy challenges; Passionate and romantic; Strong digestion, strong appetite, get irritated if they have to miss or wait for a meal; When under stress, Pittas become irritated and angry; Skin fair or reddish, often with freckles; sunburns easily; Uncomfortable in sun or hot weather, heat makes them very tired; Perspire a lot; Good public speakers; Generally good management and leadership ability, but can become authoritarian; Subject to temper tantrums, impatience, and anger; Typical physical problems include rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, boils, skin cancer, ulcers, heartburn, acid stomach, insomnia, dry or burning eyes.

Kapha predominant characteristics include Easygoing, relaxed, slow-paced; Affectionate and loving; Forgiving, compassionate, nonjudgmental nature; Stable and reliable; faithful; Physically strong and with a sturdy, heavier build; Have the most energy of all constitutions, but it is steady and enduring; Slow speech, reflecting a deliberate thought process; Slower to learn, but outstanding long-term memory; Soft hair and skin; tendency to have large “soft” eyes and a low, soft voice; Tend toward being overweight; may also suffer from sluggish digestion; Prone to depression; More self-sufficient; Gentle, and essentially undemanding approach to life; Excellent health, good immune system; Very calm; strive to maintain harmony and peace in their surroundings; Not easily upset and can be a point of stability for others; Tend to be possessive and hold on to things. Don’t like cold, damp weather; Physical problems include colds and congestion, sinus headaches, respiratory problems including asthma, allergies, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

It is important to determine your Dosha or Doshas. This will guide, along with daily ayurvedic routines, the way that you live. You can identify your Dosha using many different tools, some may even be found on line. In addition, one may go to an Ayurvedic practioner. The Ayurvedic practioner will give you a list of questions to complete. The he/she will look at your tongue to determine whether it has a coating, the color and how much of a coating is present. They also look for ridge marks and splits. The practioner will also take a pulse diagnosis according to Ayurvedic principles the pulse can delineate different diseases based on how strong it is, how many beats etc. Once you know your basic constitution or Prakriti you need to learn how to live to keep it in balance.

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