Holistic medical practice – often inspired by Eastern philosophies – are becoming more and more popular in the United States. People are expressing the desire to find healthy, natural, holistic ways of achieving wellness and balance, and for many people, they turn to Ayurveda.
Ayurveda, with its rich 5,000 year history, is still the root of medical practice in India: 80% of India’s population is treated by Ayurvedic practitioners. Popularity in the United States is much newer: interest in Ayurvedic tradition can be traced to the 1970s, in tandem with the Maharishi Mahesh Yoga organization of Transcendental Meditation. Indian physicians who came to the United States in the 1980s only aided the growth.
How Do You Describe Ayurveda?
Dr. Deepak Chopra — the well-known author and alternative medicine advocate behind such books as Perfect Health, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, and Ageless Body, Timeless Mind – has described Ayurveda as offering “a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy, while realizing their full human potential.”
Another way to think about Ayurveda is summed up by a Natural Healthy Concepts employee (and who also happens to be an ayurvedic practitioner), when she said, “Ayurveda is all about staying in balance and harmony with nature. If a person were in balance, they would follow eating with the seasons. If they have a current imbalance, a person would need to modify diet and lifestyle to balance the symptoms that one is experiencing at that time.”
It’s All About Balance
So, we’re starting to get it: Ayurveda is about balance. Ayurvedic practitioners, whether in India or the United States (and everywhere in between) focus on achieving balance between the mind and body. This balance is the root of ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda, a Sanskrit word that means “life force,” aims to achieve wellness through balancing life forces.
These life forces that we want to focus on balancing? They are also known as ayurvedic doshas.
So What is an Ayurvedic Dosha Anyway?
The three Ayurvedic doshas are rooted in the Five Elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood.
Ayurvedic practice teaches that while each of the doshas is present in each person, each person is also predisposed more towards either Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. So, for example, I may have Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas all present in me, but based on many things – including personality, body type, and health — an ayurvedic practitioner may consider me to be a Kapha primarily.
Know Your Type
Figuring out your “type” (are you a Kapha, too? Or maybe a mix of Pitta and Vata?) might sound like any fun personality quiz you can take online, but there’s a reason that ayurvedic practitioners want to determine which dosha is most present in each person they treat. That reason is that they want to encourage you to make health, diet, and lifestyle choices in a way that will best balance out your Ayurvedic dosha.
This depends on the qualities that each dosha represents. The basic description of each dosha can be found below:
- “Vata: reflects qualities of space and air; dry, rough, light, cold, subtle, mobile. Balance = creativity and vitality. Imbalance = anxiety and fear.
- Pitta: reflects qualities of fire and water; oily, sharp, hot, light, moving, liquid, acidic. Balance = contentment and intelligence. Imbalance = anger and frustration.
- Kapha: reflects qualities of water and earth; moist, cold, heavy, dull, soft, sticky, static. Balance = forgiveness and love. Imbalance = envy and insecurity.”
Achieving balance, no matter what ayurvedic dosha you are, is largely attributable to how you treat your mind and your body. Ayurveda emphasizes practices such as yoga, meditation, and diets curated to your specific needs.
Herbal supplements can also support your ayurvedic goals. For example, in the Natural Healthy Concepts store alone, you can find pitta supporting tea, kapha balancing tablets, and shampoo formulated for vata.
What do you think? Are you a pitta, a vata, or a kapha? Or are you a combination of two? Let us know!