Ayurveda is a Hindu system of traditional medicine (in the U.S., Ayurveda is considered alternative medicine) that began in India during the Vedic period (between 1700 and 1100 BCE). Ayurveda is the science of life and art of healing as a lifetime practice of wellness and healthy living. Adopting the physics of the elements and belief that all beings are connected, Ayurveda is about balance inside and out. There’s a lot to Ayurveda, so this is by no means comprehensive, but an intro into the most common practices.
One of the most familiar and widely used concepts in living a balanced life according to Ayurveda is that of the Doshas or the three elemental energies. It’s believed that our Prakruti or constitution is made of up a balance of these energies. Our Prakruti or Prakriti is determined at the moment of conception and relates to our genetically inherited physical and emotional qualities. Ayurveda stresses a balance of these energies or ‘humors’ Vāyu / vāta (air & space – “wind”), pitta (fire & water – “bile”) andkapha (water & earth – “phlegm”). If it helps, think of them like hormones (except their not) in that when there’s an imbalance you feel off, and that imbalance can manifest itself in any number of ways from mental to physical, and even karmic.
We’re made up of this mix of energies that can change throughout our lives; it can even change with the seasons. Tapping into centuries old medicine to learn about your individual Prakruti and what dietary/lifestyle changes you can make to balance your dominating qualities might be just the change you’re looking for. Prakruti specifically relates to those qualities, characteristics and tendencies that are stable. For instance, while you may experience temporary changes, like gaining or losing ten pounds, feeling nervous or irritable, developing a cold or flu, etc., in the natural course of life you will never gain or lose five inches on your height or experience a change of eye color. Prakriti is enlivened and described by three main doshas or forces: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Personally, I believe in integrative medicine that brings together philosophies and practices from the east and the west. I love seeing what the body can do to heal itself, and how the foods we eat and things we do impact our health. But, I’m also eternally grateful for Western medicine and how it’s saved my life.
I’ll dive more into the various Doshas and where to take your personal practice during Vata season, so take the Dosha Quiz on the Chopra Institute Website to learn more about your energetic makeup. For in depth information or to study Ayurveda, visit the Ayurveda Institute’s website.
– Your Charmed Yogi
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