You've probably heard the term Ayurveda before, but do you know what it is? This ancient art of medicine can bring a sense of holistic health to your mind, body and soul. Learn how it can contribute to wellness.
As one of our planet’s oldest known systems of medicine, the word Ayurveda itself comes from the Sanskrit words for life (ayur) and knowledge (veda). A primary facet of Ayurveda is one of balance and interconnectedness.
Ayurveda takes a holistic view and has an approach of preventing illness and disease and maintaining great health by careful balancing of the mind, body and soul.
What is Ayurveda & How Does Ayurvedic Medicine Work?
Ayurveda focuses its method around the fundamental concept that treatments should be individualized. Since no two people are exactly the same, each person is recognized to be a unique, self-healing being that has its own specific needs.
Ayurvedic medicine aims to bring the body back into balance in order to maintain wellness and/or restore health. This is done by balancing the body's energies, which are called doshas in Ayurveda.
What Is a Dosha?
In Ayurvedic traditions, it's believed that each person's body energy type, or dosha, is what determines their mental and physical character as well as their individual vulnerabilities.
In general, most people have characteristics of all three of the basic doshas, but typically have one that stands out as being dominant.
These doshas interact with one another both within each individual person and with environmental doshas as well. It's a commonly held belief that an imbalance between these energies is what is the true cause of illness and disease.
What are the Doshas?
There are three doshas in Ayurveda – Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
The Vata dosha is considered to be a winter energy and it's linked to the air element. Vata energy is what regulates our bodily functions like circulation, mobility and breathing.
Vata-dominant people are known to be both creative and energetic types. When out of balance, these people may become stressed quite easily or appear to be scatterbrained flakes.
A summer energy, the Pitta dosha is linked with the fire element and is believed to be linked with the digestive and endocrine systems.
Pitta-dominant people are usually intelligent, hard workers who may be quick to anger when they find themselves out of balance.
The Kapha dosha is a nourishing spring energy that is linked to the water and earth elements. Kapha energies help the body to maintain its immune and regeneration functions.
Kapha-dominant people are usually recognized to be grounded, relaxed and supportive. However, they have a tendency to become lazy, jealous or depressed when out of balance.
How to Know Your Dosha
I've taken a few quizes over the years to find my dosha. It seems I can never remember what mine is! It is Vata. I'm typing that here so I don't forget!
The Chopra Center has a free Dosha Quiz that can help you explore your own dosha a bit more. One tip I was given was that you should take the quiz as your 7-year old self as that is the purest form of you there is. Interesting, right?
As you will see, Ayurveda is one of a vast array of holistic health principles you can use to help improve your body-mind-soul connection.
The key here takeaway is that Ayurveda can help you to focus on your overall health and wellness picture, not just identifying and bandaging one problem at a time.