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Ayurveda: an Ancient Approach to Healing in Modern Times


“Ayurveda possesses the longest clinical experience of any medical system in the world, with a history of Ayurvedic hospitals and colleges going back well over three thousand years. It has carefully examined every sort of disease and life condition and their impact on health and wellbeing. It contains an intricate and sophisticated system of anatomy and physiology as well as an in-depth structure of psychology that understands the dynamics of karma and consciousness.

Ayurveda is not just a system of medicine but a science of life-quality promotion designed to optimize our wellbeing and happiness in all areas: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.”

David Frawley, leading authority in Ayurvedic medicine.

I have had the great fortune of not only personally working with an Ayurvedic practitioner, Dr. Ankita Rajput, but also studying Ayurvedic medicine with Dr. Deepak Chopra and locally with Jenny Kierstead and have found it to be a superior, integrative, and holistic approach to finding vitality and joyful living.

The ancient health science of Ayurveda, derived from the Sanskrit terms for sacred knowledge of life, is the oldest tradition of healing, healthful living, and longevity. It is one of the most comprehensive holistic medical systems in the world, covering all aspects of wellbeing –physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Its emphasis lies in proper diet, according to ones predominant body type, to create happiness and inner harmony.

Ayurveda originated from seers who studied the many rhythms of nature that influence our lives and the intricate wisdom of prana, or life force, that flows through all living creatures. This approach to wellness enables us to specifically design a plan for our health, by identifying our individual constitution, or dosha, that reflects our life energy as well as our susceptibility to disease.

Ayurveda addresses not only the body, but also the mind and spirit, while taking into consideration the subtle affects that karma and consciousness have on our health. Through it’s holistic approach to optimal health, Ayurveda uses practices that cleanse and purify, nourish and heal, strengthen immunity and delay aging by examining the way in which we eat, exercise, sleep, communicate, breathe and think.

Ayurveda considers the human being to be multidimensional in nature, one who is comprised of a body, an energy field, a mind, an emotional system and a spirit essence. Through this perspective, Ayurveda provides a roadmap for longevity, lasting happiness and spiritual fulfillment, like no other approach to wellness.


Everything in material form is constructed from the combination of the five elements of nature or the Panchamahabhutas/The five Elements:

  1. Akasha: ether/space

  2. Vayu: Air

  3. Tejas: fire

  4. Jala: water

  5. Pritvi: earth

The following is a Vedic description for Health and Wellbeing. We will be exploring each line of this in detail for each week that we get together.

Sama Dosha A person whose doshas are in a state of equilibrium

Samagnis cha Who has balanced digestion and strong metabolism

Sama dhatu mala kriya With balanced tissues and elimination

Prasanna Atma indriya mana And a happy soul, awakened senses and a calm mind

Swastha iti abhidhiyate Health is known.

From Susruta Samhita

An Ayurvedic perspective on your life

Ayurveda helps us identify our vulnerabilities, or tendencies toward imbalance so that we can treat them effectively with counter measures.

The five elements, when combined, give rise to a dosha, of which there are three. These doshas are found in our bodies and found in every living organism. They are responsible for our biological and psychological functions and when stable, create health and balance.

Through the five elements and the three doshas, Ayurveda identifies a person’s individual constitution or basic nature and prescribes a wellness plan according to their needs.

Ayurveda uses the term prakruti to describe one’s physical constitution, which influences one’s physical and mental characteristics. In order to effectively treat an imbalance or illness, it is critical to identify a person’s prakruti.


VATA

Qualities: cold, light, dry, irregular, rough, changing and quick.

Body Frame: thin, slender frame, light muscles

Weight: low, difficult to gain

Skin: dry, cool and rough

Hair: dry, thin and brittle

Eyes: small and move quickly

Joints: prominent joints, crack easily

Speech: talkative, speak rapidly

Sleep: restless, difficulty getting to sleep

Appetite: irregular

Elimination: slow, frequent constipation and gas

Temperament: active, easily flustered, social

Emotions: enthusiastic, creative, nervous, indecisive

Disturbed by: cold, dry environments, schedule irregularity, excessive physical output and stress of any kind.

Symptoms of high Vata:

· Physical: low body temperature, constipation, fatigue, insomnia, flatulence.

· Psychological: fear, anxiety, insecurity, confusion and incessant talking.

Balancing Vata:

Long term treatment including a consistent daily schedule, increasing digestive fire (ginger tea), abhyanga, gentle yoga, meditation, stress management and peaceful relationships.

PITTA

Qualities: hot, light, intense, sharp, acidic and moist

Body Frame: Medium build, strong muscles

Weight: can quickly gain or lose

Skin: soft, oily and warm

Hair: early greying or balding, oily, blonde or red

Eyes: sharp and bright with a pointed gaze

Joints: medium, moist, loose and flexible

Speech: precise, clear, sometimes forceful

Sleep: moderate, require less than others

Appetite: strong, can eat high quantities

Elimination: regular, tend toward loose stools

Temperament: efficient, perfectionistic, intense, leaders

Emotions: passionate, determined, irritable

Disturbed by: high spice, salty and sour foods, excessive heat/sun exposure, sleep disturbances, working too hard.

Symptoms of high Pitta:

· Physical: intense hunger and thirst, indigestion, skin rashes our outbreaks, infections.

· Psychological: anger, agitation, jealousy, hatred, critical.

Balancing Pitta:

Foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent (milk, rice, fruit, wheat), cooling core temperature, abhyanga, rest, laughter, yoga and meditation.

KAPHA

Qualities: cold, heavy, solid, stable, slow and steady

Body Frame: robust, stocky, solid

Weight: heavy, well developed bones and muscles

Skin: smooth, pale, white

Hair: thick, dark, lustrous

Eyes: large, calm and kind

Joints: solid, lubricated, can congest

Speech: slow, quiet, deep voice

Sleep: deep and long

Appetite: slow, consistent, can eat less than others

Elimination: sluggish

Temperament: sweet, serene, easy going and supportive

Emotions: affectionate, calm, attached

Disturbed by: cold, oily and heavy foods (dairy, wheat, sweets), damp and cold environments, sedentary lifestyle.


Symptoms of high Kapha:

· Physical: nausea, diminished appetite, weight gain, congestion, swollen joints, excessive sleep, lethargy and dullness.

· Psychological: greed, attachment, clinging to the past, depression, procrastination.

Balancing Kapha:

Foods that are light, dry and hot, cleanses, increase digestive flame with ginger and increase metabolism with rigorous exercise, abhyanga, rise before dawn.

The various constitutional types can be any individual or combination of 2 Doshas. There is are also a very few people who have a balanced constitution, Sama Prakruti, or Tridosha (Vatta, Pitta, Kapha)

The Kapha dosha tends to provide structure and stability and therefore tends more towards longevity. Vatta and Pitta are more “air” and therefore tend to have weaker constitutions and fire can burn them out.


I am Pitta dosha (surprise) and am appreciative of the insights and understanding having this ayurvedic context has provided not only in my relationship with myself but others.

For a comprehensive quiz to support learning your dosha or TRUE NATURE, visit Deepak Chopra's website here and take the assessment. From the description above, you may already have insights into what your constitution is.


Until next time my friends, take time to breathe it all in!

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