Beginner's Guide to Ayurveda

Ayurveda is an ancient science that originated in India 5000 years ago. Ayurveda consists of two words “Ayur” which means age or life and “Veda” which can be translated to “sacred knowledge”.


As the name suggests the science of Ayurveda was formulated and used by the ancients as a means to extend their “Ayu” or age and live healthier lives.



Although modern medicine has solved many of our health problems it is still incapable of finding lasting solutions to a few diseases like Jaundice, Piles, etc. And these ailments can be effectively managed by Ayurveda.


In the past few years, we have witnessed a significant rise in the popularity of Ayurveda. Some of the reasons many people are switching from allopathic to Ayurvedic treatment are:

  1. Ayurveda does not have any side effects. This is because the medicines prescribed in Ayurveda are composed of natural herbs.

  2. Unlike allopathic treatments Ayurveda does not target the symptom of the disease but the root of it.

  3. Ayurveda focuses on wholesome development or “balance” in your health rather than only focusing on a specific symptom.


The Strategy of Ayurveda

Each one of us has a unique constitution: a set of physical, mental and emotional characteristics. Ayurveda says that health is the state in which your constitution is balanced and disease sets in when there is an imbalance in your constitution.


An imbalance can occur because of both internal and external factors such changes in one’s emotional state, diet and food choices, seasons and weather, physical trauma, work and family relationships.


Once these factors are understood, necessary changes can made to achieve the balanced state which is health. But to understand these factors first you must know yourself.


The Philosophy of Ayurveda


The first step in Ayurveda is to define your body type, and then practice exercises, diet and activities appropriate to your particular body type or "dosha". This is called balancing of the doshas.

There are three types of Doshas: Vatta, Pitta and Kapha. Knowing your Doshas helps in the following ways:

  1. It helps you to plan a balanced diet for yourself.

  2. It helps you to analyse and identify your body’s requirements.

  3. It helps you to know how an imbalance is likely to occur.


In Ayurvedic philosophy everything in the universe is made of five elements space, air, fire, water and earth called “Panchabhutas”. Vatta, Pitta and Kapha are permutations of these these five elements and manifest themselves in everything in the universe including your body.


While Vatta, Pitta and Kapha work together in your but which one is dominant and which one is less prominent will decide your body type. And knowing body type as we discussed earlier is the first step in making Ayurveda work for you.


In a nutshell, Vatta is the energy of movement, Pitta is the energy of digestion and metabolism and Kapha is the energy that forms body structure.


Vatta


Characteristics of a person if Vatta is dominant:


  1. Quick mind, flexibility and creativity.

  2. Mentally grasps concepts easily but are also quick at forgetting.

  3. Walk, talk and think fast but get easily fatigued.

  4. Tend to have less willpower than other types.

  5. Gets fearful, nervous and anxious in unbalanced state.


Signs of Vatta Imbalance:

  1. Dryness or roughness of skin

  2. Pain in bones, joints

  3. Irregular bowel movements or constipation

  4. Fear and restlessness

  5. Too much weight loss


Remedies for Balancing Vita

  1. Go to bed early, rise early.

  2. Maintain routine and have fixed times for eating, sleeping and working. This is called “dincharya” in Sanskrit literature.

  3. Drink warm beverages and eat freshly prepared warm, whole foods.

  4. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated


Pitta


Characteristics of a person if Pitta is dominant:


  1. Sharp Intelligence

  2. Medium height and weight

  3. Ruddy or coppery skin

  4. May have moles and freckles

  5. Silky hair

  6. Experience premature graying or hair loss.

  7. Strong metabolism and good digestion

  8. Sound sleep with medium duration

  9. Easily agitated and aggressive


Signs of Pitta Imbalance:

  1. Giddiness

  2. Weakness

  3. Reduced sleep

  4. Increased anger and irritation

  5. Bad breath


Remedies for Balancing Pitta

  1. Maintain Dincharya (daily routine)

  2. Use ghee (clarified butter) in your cooking

  3. Drink 4-5 liters of warm water everyday.

  4. Meditation is key.

  5. Spend time with nature.


Kapha


Characteristics of a person if Kapha is dominant:

  1. High strength, endurance and stamina.

  2. Oily and smooth skin

  3. May gain weight easily

  4. Have slow metabolism

  5. Well developed body and muscles

  6. Sleep is deep and prolonged.

  7. Psychological they are calm, tolerant and forgiving


Signs of Kapha Imbalance:

  1. Drowsiness

  2. Indigestion

  3. Cough

  4. Loss of appetite

  5. Obesity

  6. Sinusitis

  7. Disorder in joints


Remedies for Balancing Kapha

  1. Keep the body active.

  2. Regular practice of Yoga

  3. Practice of Pranayama

  4. Avoid sleep during the day


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