Being new to Ayurveda myself, and starting work with Laura and Andrew and Essential Ayurveda without knowing a thing, my first question was exactly that. A few friends had said to me in the past ‘look into it, find out your dosha’ - My what? ’It’s an alternative health system’ – OK, but what makes it different and why should I try it?
Well a month in and I’m beginning to understand and gaining a (very) basic knowledge of its benefits, by using ancient techniques to work with each individuals body, mind, spirit. I’m not looking to be a practitioner or any kind of expert, but as a consumer and ambassador of sorts, Ayurveda is proving to be top of my list for a healthy life.
Using Essential Ayurveda’s knowledge and information pulled from other sources, I have put together this short introduction;
Ayurveda is one of the world's oldest traditional holistic (“whole-body”) health systems and it has been used for more than 3,000 years in India.
It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body and spirit. ‘Ayur’ meaning life and ‘Veda’ meaning science or knowledge. Its main goal is to promote good health, not just a system of treating illnesses. Offering a body of wisdom to enable people to stay vibrant and healthy.
The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda:
So in essence, if your mind, body and spirit are in harmony, you have good health. Amongst the things that can upset this balance are injuries, age, emotions, climate and seasonal change.
Those who practice Ayurveda believe every person is made up of five basic elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. These combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They in turn control how your body works and are Vata (space and air); Pitta (fire and water); and Kapha (water and earth).
Everyone is made up of a unique mix of the three doshas. But one is usually stronger than the others. Each one controls a different body function and it’s believed that your chances of getting sick - and the health issues you develop - are linked to the balance of your doshas.
Ayurveda practitioners believe this to be the most powerful of the three doshas. It controls very basic body functions like how cells divide. It also controls your mind, breathing, blood flow, heart function and ability to get rid of waste through your intestines. Things that can disrupt this include eating again too soon after a meal, fear, grief and staying up too late. Increased vata can cause conditions like anxiety, asthma, restlessness, stiffness, dry skin and joints.
This energy controls your digestion, metabolism and certain hormones that are linked to your appetite. Things that can disrupt it are eating sour or acidic foods and spending too much time in the sun. If Pitta is aggravated this can lead to conditions such as acidity, inflammation, infections and skin disorders.
This life force controls muscle growth, body strength, weight and your immune system. You can disrupt it by sleeping during the day, eating too many sweet foods and eating things that contain too much salt. Excess kapha can contribute to low digestion, overweight conditions and fluid retention.
An Ayurvedic practitioner will create a treatment plan specifically designed for you. Taking into account your unique physical and emotional makeup, your primary life force, and the balance between all three of these elements.
Using massage, yogic breathing, oils, diet supplements, herbal treatments and teas – a practitioner can advise on the best course of treatment for you. Understanding your own dosha make-up can help with dietary and living choices.
Personally I have not had any specific treatment, yet. But I have been using our Essential Ayurveda Maha Narayan Oil for joints and muscles, on a couple of old injuries and can say without doubt that the warming oil is improving my mobility and I have less pain (it smells lovely and absorbs into the skin quickly). Also, having been pointed in the direction that Pitta is my stronger dosha, the realisation that my diet choices are not always in my favour is helping to explain why my body reacts the way it does.
I’m at the beginning of my Ayurvedic journey. Take yourself on your own journey and make choices to a better and healthier way of being.
By Em Pocock