Ayurveda is becoming increasingly popular in Western society. Maybe you have heart of the terms Vata, Pitta or Kapha, maybe you filled out a ‘dosha-test’ yourself to figure out ‘your type’. I would like to tell you a little more about this Science of Life (yes, it is a science, there is nothing floaty about it) and how it works in day to day life.
Wisdom of Life
Ayurveda is an ancient, universal life science from India. Ayur means life or longivity, Veda stands for wisdom. Thus literally Ayurveda means, ‘Wisdom of Life’ and is aimed at balancing your body & mind so that you can live a long and healthy life.
Ayurveda looks at each person as an unique individual. That means that we all have a unique ‘constitution’ and thus we all need a different prescription to maintain balance. The basic principle of Ayurveda is that our bodies consist of the 5 elements: water (70%: this we all know and is acknowledged by modern science!), earth (12%), fire (7%), air (7%) and ether/space (4%). This is the general distribution of the elements in the human body. However, depending on your constitution (type) there are slight differences in the amount of each element in our bodies. That is what makes us unique, not only in appearance, but also in the tendencies of our minds and emotions. Ayurveda looks at the unique consistency of these elements in the body and gives advise on how to rebalance through diet, life style, daily routine, physical exercise….. actually through all aspects that influence your system.
In order for me to determine your constitution and disbalance during a consult I use different techniques, I observe, ask questions, do a tongue and polse evaluation.
(p.s. eventually the elements are grouped by two, each couple making up for a dosha. Air in ether = Vata; water in fire = Pitta and earth in water = Kapha. In this article I stay with the more basic principle of the elements, because it makes it easier to understand as we can all make an association with the elements)
This is how it works
The common rule in Ayurveda is that like increases like, and that opposites balance.
An example: imagine your are a person with relatively more of the element fire in your system. Eating a lot of spicy foods (for example those delicious Indian curries!), being out in the sun a lot and doing very competitive sports will naturally increase the fire within your system. In case you do those type of things very often – without cooling the system properly – the fire in your body will systematically increase and could become aggravated. At this point the fire wants to ‘come out’ and symptoms will display. Common complaints of people that have aggrevation of fire are acidic reflux, acne (red in color) or excessive sweating (there are many more of course). But it can display also on a mental or emotional level. The person can suffer from over-thinking, become very critical, jealous, easily aggitated or even angry.
So how to balance this hot-headed person? The common rule in Ayurveda is like increases like and opposites balance. This means that this person needs to ‘cool down’. How can we do that? By eating cooling foods that contain a lot of water, think about green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, cucumbers and juicy fruits, like coconuts, mango, melon, papaya etc. On a more emotional level I would suggest the person to start doing meditation, practice gratitude (write down three things each day your are greatful for) and go swimming once or twice a week.
Logic & empowering
And that is the logic of Ayurveda explained on a very basic level! Once you understand your system and you know what are the opposites you know how to balance yourself! In that sense Ayurveda is a very empowering Life Science and is aimed for you to take control over your health and your life! As an Ayurvedic Nutritionist I only try to give you a better understanding of your unique constitution and put you on the right track about what to eat, how to plan your daily routine and what exercises and yoga practice/postures you can benefit from.
By saying this I really want to stress that Ayurveda is not a diet (you will naturally get to your healthy weight once the system’s balance is restored) and is not dogmatic. Are you a person that naturally has a little more fire in your system…? Then please, go for that hot curry every now and then! Just know the effect it might have and know how to bring back balance when you feel that fire gets aggravated.
Personal experience with Ayurveda
I want to close of by saying that I did not get my firm belief in Ayurveda through books. Yes, this is how it started, because I was desperate to balance my fiery, chaotic and ever active body and mind. But my belief has only been established through my own experience. I found out it worked! I understood that I needed to practice a lot more stillness, cooling down and patience in my life, I learned to ground down using warming spices, good fats and heavy foods, like sweet potato and pumpkin. I was even cured from a progressive disease (don’t worry, not deadly, but quite painful) by an Ayurvedic doctor where modern medicine does not yet have a remedy to this disease.
I hope I have given you a better understanding of this profound science and that is is not floaty or spiritual at all. It is just that the basic understanding of how we are ‘put together’ and how this holistically works is different than what we are used to in modern society.
Are you curious about ways to balance your system? Let me know and we plan for a consult together! (60-75 min for € 49,-).
Alma Yoga – by Amber