What is Ayurveda? What is a dosha? Do you have your own dosha? Do you know what it’s called or what it means? Why does it matter? Lets start at the very beginning…
Ayurveda is an ancient Hindu holistic (whole-body) healing system. It was developed thousands of years ago in India. In Ayurveda, “health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The primary focus of Ayurvedic medicine is to promote good health, rather than fight disease.” Ayurveda is a very ancient and sophisticated system for keeping people vibrant and healthy. In Ayurveda, good health results when mind, body, and spirit are in balance. As with other holistic health philosophies, Ayurveda encompasses many dimensions: diet, relaxation, exercise, sleep, essential oils, doshas (mind/body types), and medicine. Ayurvedic practice strives to keep us healthy and feeling balanced and energized – physically and mentally.
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian “science of life,” explains that, like the Universe, we are made up of the five elements (air, space, fire, water and earth) and the Soul. These elements combine uniquely within each of us to form three energies or dosha types: Movement/Vata (space and air), Transformation/Pitta (fire and water), and Structure/Kapha (earth and water). Each dosha type expresses a unique blend of physical, emotional, and mental characteristics. For each dosha, there is a balanced and imbalanced expression.
If the Vata dosha type predominates, we tend to be thin, light and quick in our thoughts and actions. Change is a constant part of our lives. When Vata is balanced, we are creative, enthusiastic and lively. But if Vata becomes excessive and there is too much movement in the system, we may develop anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, constipation, and difficulty focusing. or irregular digestion.
If the Pitta dosha type predominates in our nature, we tend to be muscular, smart, goal oriented, and determined. If balanced, we are warm, friendly, disciplined, intelligent, a good leader, and a good speaker. If out of balance, Pitta can make us compulsive, critical, irritable and aggressive. Out of balance Pitta may suffer from indigestion or an inflammatory condition.
If the Kapha dosha type predominates, we tend to have a heavier frame, think and move more leisurely and are stable; we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing. When in balance, a person is sweet, supportive, and stable but when Kapha is out of balance, a person may experience sluggishness, weight gain, resistance to healthy change, and sinus congestion.
Although each of us has all three dosha types, most people have one or two elements that predominate. To find out yours, you can start by taking a simple quiz to determine your dosha. I completed this quiz as well as a second one. I wanted to see if the results would be the same or at least similar. The results were absolutely the same: Kapha dosha type predominates my nature with Pitta dosha type a close second. I can definitely see where both are out of balance from time to time. All this means that I have some more learning to do about how to bring my specific constitution into balance. The dosha descriptions of me were so completely on target!
Here’s an Update: I recently saw the most amazing integrative medicine doctor. Dr. Taz Bhatia. I’m so lucky to have her available to me. She took blood from me like a vampire and is sending it out for a crazy amount of analysis. I won’t have all of the results for four weeks when we will reconvene. However, she has identified me as primarily Pitta and Kapha coming in second. So I was close…
This is all interesting and quizzes are always fun, but why does it matter? What can you learn from your dosha type to create a positive impact in your every day life? An important goal of Ayurveda is to identify a person’s ideal state of balance, determine where they are out of balance, and offer suggestions to return them to balance using a unique combination of diet, herbs, aromatherapy, massage treatments, essential oils, yoga, music, and meditation to reestablish balance. In the Ayurvedic tradition, reestablishing balance reestablishes wellness. Identifying your dosha type is the first step to seeing where you might be out of balance and how that imbalance may be impacting your daily life. Something above may even resonate with you about an out of balance dosha type. It did with me.
Beginning to learn about Ayurveda and its dosha types makes me feel that our Western system is more like a “sick care” system and not much of a “health care” system. How often have you gone to your doctor if you aren’t sick? Have you ever gone to your doctor regularly to check in and to make sure that you are keeping up your health? Well, that’s exactly what an Ayurvedic practitioner will encourage you to do. Keep your family’s health train on track!
Western medicine uses the term “life science.” “Life science” is biology – the study of “living organisms and vital processes.” This definition of life science makes me feel like biology is somehow the “surgical strike” of the scientific world. Ayurveda is the “science of life.” This simple change from “life science” to “science of life” completely changes the emphasis from science to life. I feel better already!
So which dosha do you think is your dominant dosha type? Do you see a combination of two dosha types in yourself? Have you ever tried any Ayurvedic practices? Maybe you could add some Ayurveda to your wellness playbook? For me, the answer is yes and I want to find out more! I have an Ayurvedic practitioner here in my area and I will be making an appointment to see what she has to offer as far as suggestions for creating balance for me and furthering my wellness.