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What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, pronounced “eye-your-vay-duh”, is the world’s oldest health system, originating in ancient India over 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda focuses on balancing the mind, body and spirit for radiant health. Ayurveda is built on two guiding principals – The mind and body are interconnected and nothing has more power than the mind to heal and transform the body. In Ayurveda all areas of health, from physical to mental to emotional are interconnected and are treated in harmony. Ayurveda helps us achieve optimal health by supporting our natural healing through wholesome nutrition, lifestyle & self-care practices, self-awareness, mindful movement and aligning with our biological rhythms.
In Ayurveda digestion is key. Ayurveda’s nutritional philosophy is “you are what you digest”. Instead of “you are what you eat”. Digestion is the cornerstone of all health, and if your digestion isn’t strong, the rest of your body will fall out of balance and lead to dis-ease. Digestion does not just refer to the foods we eat but also the skincare we put on our bodies, the household products that we use, environmental pollutants and also our thoughts and emotions. Therefore we need a strong and healthy digestive system to process, break down, assimilate and detoxify all that we take into our minds and bodies. Digestion is what transforms our food into nutrients, our thoughts into action, emotions into self-awareness, and toxins into waste. Our digestive system is like our personal powerhouse within. When it is weak and not operating optimally then everything else goes out of balance like our skin, our body weight, our hormones and our mood.
Ayurveda recognises that we are each unique individual and there is no one-size fits all approach when it comes to radiant health. Each of us has a unique Doshic Constitution – which is an individualised combination of the three Dosha’s (Mind-Body types) Vatta, Pitta & Kapha. It’s important to note that each of us will have highly individualised needs based on our unique Mind-Body type.
Dosha – Your unique Mind-Body type
Your dosha is like a personalized blueprint to keep your mind, body, and spirit balanced, healthy, and disease-free using the practices of Ayurveda. Your dosha helps to understand your natural tendencies so you can make choices that keep you mentally & emotionally balanced and physically healthy.
The doshas consist of the five elements we experience in nature around us: Space, Air , Fire, Water & Earth. These elements come together to create the three Doshas in Ayurveda, Vata, Pitta & Kapha. Learning about your unique dosha combination can help understand your natural strengths and shine the light on your greatest challenges.
Vata Dosha is like the wind, it’s cold, dry, light and ever-moving. Since Vata is the principle of movement and change, you will tend to always be on the go, with an energetic and creative mind. As long as Vata is in balance, you will be lively and enthusiastic, with a lean body.
THE VATA BODY
If you have excess Vata in the body, your body has too much wind energy, YES like gas! Your body may produce excess gas due to weak digestion and you might find yourself suffering from chronic bloating or constipation. For Vata we need to strengthen your digestive fire. When there is too much Vata in the system, your body temperature tends to drop and you often feel cold. Excess Vata can also cause hormonal issues, dry skin, hair and brittle nails.
THE VATA MIND
Excess Vata energy in the mind causes a whirlwind of thoughts. You may easily become overwhelmed, feel nervous, have racing thoughts, and find it difficult to calm your mind. This can cause anxiety and difficulty falling asleep. To regain balance work on increasing fire& earth energy.
WHEN VATA IS BALANCED
You are excitable, creative, imaginative, spontaneous, and adaptable.
To Balance Vata
Grounding, routine, slowing down, 3 regular meals, earlier bedtime, regular lifestyle routine to ground Vata, including grounding practices like meditation, yin yoga, Abhyanga.
WHEN VATA IS IMBALANCED
You experience bloating, gas, constipation, chills, insomnia, weakness, anemia, malabsorption, PMS, irregular periods, anxiety, nervousness, fatigue, and lost appetite.
Causes of Vata imbalance
Overdoing, overcommitting, overstimulation, lots of travel, windy cold weather, big life transitions.
Vata should eat
Eat more warm, cooked, grounding meal. Think stews, curries, roasted veggies and soups.
Avoid dry, cold foods like popcorn, crackers, or excess raw foods as this will aggravate vata causing bloating, gas and anxiety.
Grounding, warming, stimulating, building.
Pitta Dosha is like fire, it’s hot, fiery, powerful and transformative.
Pitta’s tend to be assertive and determined, with a muscular body and a penetrating mind. As long as Pitta is balanced, you will enjoy a strong appetite and digestive powers. You will find it easy to make decisions and work toward your goals.
THE PITTA BODY
If you have excess Pitta in the body, your body has excess heat. In Ayurveda, the word for the digestive system is the same as the word for fire, Agni. When Pitta is aggravated there is too much heat in their digestive system and excessive accumulation of the fire element, causing heartburn, hyperacidity, ulcers hypertension and inflammatory conditions. Excess Pitta also shows up on our faces as acne as the heat rises and tries to make its way out of the body. Chronic acne or acidity, always feeling hot, and excess perspiration are common indicators of a pitta imbalance.
THE PITTA MIND
A Pitta mind is organised and sharp but when there is excess, it leads to impatience, agitation, irritability and anger. Pittas have a strong appetite and often become hangry if they miss a meal. If Pitta is out of balance work on increasing Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Water) to cool down hot and fiery energies.
WHEN PITTA IS BALANCED
Strong, intellectual, powerful, confident, strong digestion
To Balance PITta
Chill out, slow down, regular meals, cool foods, calming activities, sit by the water, be outside in fresh air, reduce competitive activities, mindfulness & meditation, daily exercise, and avoid stimulants like caffeine.
WHEN PITTA IS IMBALANCED
Heartburn, aversion to heat, hyperacidity, red flushed face, acne, anger, irritability, impatience, competitiveness.
Causes of PITTA imbalance
Overworking, fixated on finishing tasks, putting themselves under pressure, too much heat, fasting, perfectionism, spicy food, caffeine, and alcohol.
PITTA should eat
Eat more cooling, detoxifying meals: Leafy greens, juicy fruit, simple grains, steamed vegetables, and protein-packed legumes.
Avoid spicy & pungent foods like tomato, onion, garlic and meat as these will aggravate Pitta causing acidity and impatience.
Cooling, hydrating, soothing, calming
Kapha Dosha is like the Earth – it’s grounded, soothing, calm and heavy.
THE KAPHA BODY
If you have excess Kapha in the body, you will feel low in energy. You may be slow to wake up in the morning and exercise is the last thing on your mind. You are prone to weight gain, water retention and heaviness especially if you eat excess carbs, sugars, processed foods or dairy. You have a slow & sluggish digestive system and often suffer from coughs, colds, mucus build-up or infections. When Kapha is in excess it’s important to stimulate digestion and move your body to bring more heat and lightness. When Kapha is aggravated your feet feel cold & clammy and you may have thyroid issues.
THE KAPHA MIND
Excess Kapha energy causes the mind to become slow, dull and forgetful. You may lack motivation, be resistant to change, find yourself reminiscing about the past and find it hard to try new things. If you have a Kapha imbalance, you will tend to hold on to things, jobs, habits, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary. You often neglect your own self-care as you are always taking care of others first.
WHEN KAPHA IS BALANCED
Affectionate, sweet, calm, settled, strong endurance
To Balance KAPHA
Regular exercise to generate heat & fire. Stimulate mind & body, light, warm spicy and dry food, 3 meals per day, limit snacking, dry body brushing, declutter & give away things you will never use.
KAPHA OUT OF BALANCE
Asthma, allergies, depression, weight gain, fluid retention, procrastination, stubbornness, materialism, possession, jealousy.
Causes of KAPHA imbalance
Overeating, heavy & oily foods, cold environment, too much relaxing & grounding activities, oversleeping, lack of exercise, dairy.
KAPHA should eat
Eat more stimulating, light foods. Bitter vegetables, leafy greens, spices and herbs are perfect for Kapha.
Avoid oily, heavy foods like dairy, excess carbohydrates, fat, wheat, and sugars as these will cause you to feel heavy, sluggish and unmotivated.
Stimulating, warming, detoxifying, energising.