Dating back 5000 years, Ayurveda is an ancient form of healing and the oldest healing system. Ayurveda translates to “the science (or knowledge) of life.” It is a system that teaches how to achieve balance through diet, herbs, exercise and lifestyle choices based on your unique body type or dosha.
According to this science, when imbalance exists in the body, mind and spirit, disharmony results and “disease” develops. The purpose of Ayurveda is to eliminate blockages that create disharmony so balance and wellness can be achieved.
According to Ayurveda, the body consists of five different elements that are found in nature and make up the changing seasons: earth, water, fire, air and space/ether. The combination and dominance of these elements define who you are, your personality, how you act, your body shape and symptoms and conditions you may be more prone to.
“Every individual is unique, but we are part of and connected to the universe. We are connected to the sun, the planets, the stars and the moon. We are connected to the elements in nature and we are connected to the seasons.”
Ayurveda distinguishes three body types, called doshas. The dosha types are called vata, pitta and kapha.
Vata types are made up of the elements air and space. They are often tall, lean and “airy and spacey!” They are creative, imaginative and often artistic. They feel deeply and are sensitive to noise, electromagnetics and energy. Air and space move, it changes quickly and so Vata types are movers and shakers, the ones who can do endless amounts in a day, jumping from one thing to another and often forget to eat; yet they are the body types who need to eat frequently and have the most routine and structure to their day to stay balanced.
If not grounded and balanced, vata types manifest with fatigue and anxiety. They often have dry skin, are cold all the time and can be mentally and emotionally scattered. To bring the vata type back to balance we need to ensure that their nutritional lifestyles are full of essential fats and higher purine proteins (red meat, fatty fish, dark poultry) to ground, earth, warm, lubricate and insulate their cold and dry elements. They would benefit from one pot meals like chili, soups, stews, oatmeal, curries and crockpot meals and would want to avoid cold and dry foods (they are already too cold and dry). They would also benefit from meditation, Bikram yoga and saunas to ground and warm their body types.
Pitta types are made up of the elements fire and water. Pitta types are often a medium build with freckles and red or brown hair. They are often leaders; they have direction and strong will. Often they are Type A personalities. They are always structured (and get impatient with scattered vata types!) and they are fiery! When pitta types get too stressed, overwhelmed, irritated or overheated they create too much fire in their bodies and are quick to anger and often manifest with inflammatory conditions. They often come in with red skin, heart conditions, arthritis, gout, ulcerative colitis, IBD and overall inflammation in the body.
To bring a Pitta type back into balance we need to ensure that their nutritional lifestyles nourish with cool and bitter foods to pacify the fire within. Lots of salads and light protein is a perfect meal for a Pitta. We need to eliminate any foods that stoke the fire—such as excess red meat, coffee, pungent (hot, spicy) foods and alcohol. Swimming as a form of exercise may be a valuable part of a pitta lifestyle because the cool water would refresh and prevent or pacify the fire.
Kapha types are made up of the elements water and earth. They tend toward a heavier build, rounder face and a gentle predisposition. They are solid, reliable and very grounded. Kapha types are often the nurturers, caregivers and stay-at-home mothers, teachers or nurses. They often are slow to start in the morning, have sluggish metabolism and find it very difficult to lose weight. Kapha types need constant variety, stimulation and regular vigorous cardiovascular exercise or they will put their bodies out of balance. Kapha types, if out of balance will often present with conditions of excess moisture such as candidiasis, edema, fluid retention, high blood pressure and obesity. If they get too much in a rut they can also tend to depression.
To come back into balance, kaphas need stimulating spices to get the metabolism moving, dry foods and only small amounts of oily moist food. Salads, vegetable juicing, stirfry, chicken breast with hot spices and high impact aerobics comprise an ideal lifestyle for a balanced kapha type.
“The guiding principle of Ayurveda is that the mind exerts the deepest influence on the body, and freedom from sickness depends upon contacting our own awareness, bringing it back into balance, and then extending that balance to the body. This state of balanced awareness, more than any kind of physical immunity, creates a higher state of health.” –Deepak Chopra
Knowing and honoring your body type is an important step on your nutritional journey. We all want to know what is best for each and every one of us and that is why I use the science of Ayurveda in my nutrition practice and have made it part of my signature program, 7 Steps to Sound Nutrition.
When I first meet with you and we have our Comprehensive Nutritional Intake and Analysis just by looking at you and listening to you speak, I have already assessed a great deal about who you are, why you manifested with the symptoms or conditions you have and how I can personalize recommendations in your nutritional lifestyle to support your unique body type.
When you understand your Ayurvedic dosha and the elements that make you up then you know how to create a lifestyle that will keep your elements in balance. Remember, wellness does not come without balance! You will know the foods most supportive for you and the foods that are not. You will have an understanding of how lifestyle choices can irritate or pacify your body type. You will learn which form of exercise and yoga would be best for you, always with the intention of keeping the body in balance. Even certain essential oils, herbs, spices and color would be designated to your specific dosha to create harmony in body, mind and spirit.
There is true wisdom in this ancient form of healing. By living in alignment with the Ayurvedic principles you will begin to have a knowing about who you are and gain experience in what keeps you balanced and free of disease. This is wise living!
Book an Ayurvedic Nutrition and Lifestyle Consultation today and join me an upcoming 2 day workshop on Ayurvedic Nutrition and Iyengar Yoga: Key Pathways to Health
Yours in health & vitality,