When I first heard about Ayurveda or Ayurvedic Medicine, it truly resonated with me, what I hear about it was that we are all unique and as unique individuals, our needs are different from person to person and by making the right choices in food and lifestyle, we can bring health to our bodies and prevent diseases. As I was constantly experiencing cold sores and tummy pains at that time, I did some research and I will share with you some of the interesting things I found which have helped me tremendously along my journey =)
Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga; also called "The science of life", just like yoga, it was developed in India by sages and it follows principles from the Rig Veda. It is an holistic approach to health and disease which seeks to prevent dis-ease in all aspects of our lives by providing a framework of what's best for our individual constitution, instead of treating an already existent illness/disease.
In Ayurveda, there are 3 main doshas (which literally mean "deviations" but can be considered as constitutions). We all possess a percentage of these constitutions, some higher than others and these constitutions are responsible for our individual preferences in foods, flavours and temperatures.
There is a lot to Ayurveda, but one of the main precepts is helping us achieve health and homeostasis through our lives choices.
Since I can remember, I never really felt attracted to eating salads and I would always feel cold. My mum, as all mums, asked me to eat salads and I would instead go straight to eating the warm, oily foods avoiding salads as much as I could. When I learnt about Ayurveda, for the first time ever, my personal preferences made a lot of sense, and I strongly believe that by getting to know your own individual constitution, you can make better choices in your lifestyle; including food, exercises and any activity you do so that you live healthily taking into consideration your individual needs, thus prevent ailments or dis-ease.
Below, you will find a rough description of the main 3 doshas; Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
We all have a percentage of each one of these constitutions, some more predominant than others. For example, I am physically quite "vata", but psychologically predominantly "pitta."
There are 7 main constitutions combinations:
1) Vata 2) Pitta 3) Kapha 4) Vata - Pitta 5) Pitta- Kapha 6) Vata- Kapha 7) Vata-Pitta-Kapha
If you took the time to go through this, you may have resonated with some descriptions more than others. When I read the descriptions of each, I knew that one description matched me physically while another one matched me psychologically. There's an actual "dosha test" you can take here to find out your constitution, you need to answer those questions, and the result is sent to your email. (Deepak Chopra site is safe =)
So, what does this all mean? According to Ayurveda, like aggravates like, so if you are predominantly "vata" which element is Ether + Air, anything with those qualities will create an imbalance in your system. For example, winter is "Vata season" where the cold and wind tend to affect predominantly people with Vata consitution, as well as any foods that have airy, dry qualities, such as raisins, pop corns, among many others.
Do you follow me?
There is a list of foods that are recommended for each dosha, contrary to the belief that there are certain foods that are great for everyone, not in Ayurveda, because what can be great for some, it might not be too good for others. So, once you know your own constitution, you can choose foods to best fit and compliment your own dosha, as well as the season.
This is a chart I found on the web and even though I wouldn't take it by the book as I am vegan, it does show an easy-to-follow chart.
When it comes to yoga:
Since Vata people tend to get distracted easily and lose concentration, they benefit from exploring practices with slow, gradual, steady movements. Focusing more on grounding in standing and balancing postures as they ask for full awareness, also staying a bit longer in each posture is greatly beneficial. Slow vinyasa flows to keep the mind in focus work great for vatas as well as yin or restorative yoga
Practice : Vrksasana (tree pose), Garudasana (eagle), and virabhadrasana (warrior) II & III, Uttitha Parsvakonasana (extended side angle), Ashta Chandrasana (Half moon pose)
Pranayama: Nadi Shodana or 3 point breath.
Avoid doing "Salamba Sarvangasana" (shoulderstand) for too long as Vata people tend to have less cushioning to protect bone structure, and bones can be frail especially when putting too much weight on neck and shoulders.
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People with a high Pitta constitution tend to push themselves quite hard and gravitate towards vigorous practices since they are fire in nature.
Pittas benefit from practices that are cooling, nurturing and relaxing rather than moving quickly into the next posture, which can be hard due to competitive tendencies. Rather than going for the hot and sweaty practices like bikram or Ashtanga, it is really beneficial for them to learn to go slow and mindfully through practices and learning to relax. This will help them feel calmer and lighter, as well as more relaxed in mind and body after the practice.
Practice: Sukhasana (Easy-seated position), surya namaskar (sun salutations), dancing warrior, dandasana (staff pose), Apanasana (wind removing pose), upavista konasana (seated wide legged forward fold), paschimottanasana (seated forward bend), balasana (child's pose).
Pranayama: Cooling breathing techniques such as shitali
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Since Kaphas can be lethargic, they benefit more from warming and simple flowing practices to stimulate their metabolism and circulation. They benefit from sustained asana practices that gradually cultivate strength and stamina, like vinyasa yoga, hatha flow or similar practices.
Practice: Standing postures that involve heart openers to stimulate circulation and the movement of energy in the chest and head where there can be excess phlegm.
Sun salutations, phalakasana (plank pose), Virabhadrasana I, II, III (Dancing warriors), Addho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog), Parivrtta utkatasana (revolved chair pose), parivrtta parsvakonasana (revolved extended side angle)
Pranayama: Kapalabhati (at the beginning of the practice to get the energy up)
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Overall, Ayurveda teaches us to keep the mind, body and spirit in harmony; balanced and healthy. According to Ayurveda, different people require very different lifestyles, food and yoga practices and I hope that this has served you as an understanding of what would benefits you most as an individual.
May you find harmony in your mind, body and soul
Love and light,