The Science of Life
Ayurveda is a system of alternative medicine with roots in the Indian subcontinent. It can get lengthy and kind of confusing as to what the purpose of this practice is, so I’d like to present you with a simpler version: it’s the “science of life.”
Ayurveda is how we balance our individual self with the planet. Some may see this as easy, while others will not. In truth, it’s quite challenging in the beginning because it requires you to alter your habits. WHAAAA??? Yes, I said it! As the earth shifts and changes seasonally, we too must learn to adjust.
Each season brings new elements of life. Temperature affects our internal energy as well as our external output. The air we breathe has a different feel in summer than in winter. When it comes to food, certain fruits and vegetables are more easily accessible than others at different times of the year. The list goes on…
Lately, the question of food has been coming up. Students frequently ask me how to eat with this practice. Why can’t they eat the same as before?
Ayurveda and Ashtanga yoga go hand in hand. As your physical practice begins to transform, the dormant forces within you begin to awaken. You’re pretty much forced to recognize the change that’s happening on a subconscious, unconscious level. Then again, some of us are not here yet. That’s okay!
I’d like to introduce you to the concept of “Tri-Doshas,” the three energetic energies circulating through the bodies of all beings: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We all have a unique combination of tri-doshas, which affects our physical and emotional states.
Each dosha consists of two out of the five universal elements – fire, earth, water, air, and ether (space). Vata is air and ether; Pitta is fire and water; and Kapha is water and earth. Based on their elements, the doshas carry certain qualities and characteristics.
Vata, with the elements of air and either, has wind-like qualities – cold, light, and dry. It is associated with movement throughout the body. Pitta (fire and water) is associated with heat, digestion, and transformation, while Kapha (water and earth) possesses the qualities of heaviness, stability, and accumulation.
All of the doshas manifest in different physical and emotional ways. For instance, individuals who are predominately Vata tend to be light, quick, talkative, and experience dry skin. Pitta-dominant people tend to be energetic, highly-focused, and clear communicators who may feel warm and experience oily skin. Kapha people are generally able to handle stress well and can be comfort-seekers, disliking change.
When a dosha becomes unbalanced, certain symptoms will manifest. A Vata imbalance may result in fear, anxiety, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, and difficulty sleeping. Someone with a Pitta imbalance may experience increased anger, frustration, and issues with digestion. A Kapha imbalance can appear as depression, lack of motivation, and weight gain.
At birth you are born with a unique balance of tri-dosha called prakruti. As you go through life, your tri-dosha balance shifts. Your current tri-dosha balance is called vikruti. The difference between your vikruti and your prakruti is where dosha imbalance comes into play.
Thankfully, the doshas can be affected through food, yoga, and meditation. Whichever dosha you may be experiencing an imbalance in, certain foods can help bring the doshas back into balance. When your prakruti and vikruti are similar, your body is considered in balance and you experience optimum health.
Find out your vikruti by taking this dosha quiz.