Ayurveda is one of the oldest codified systems of holistic health and healing. It comes from the Indian subcontinent and has been in existence for over 5000 years. This life knowledge has also been found in Southeast Asia, Tibet, Traditional Chinese medicine, the curandera tradition of Mexico and the shamanic healing of Brazil. At great benefit to us, Ayurveda’s oral tradition was eventually written in Sanskrit texts and commentaries that contain the various methods of treatment (see Treatments in my website), formulas and practices that were developed by Ayurvedic practitioners thousands of years ago. Ayurveda supports that what we eat can balance or create imbalance to our wellbeing and that it is through the balance of the six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent) that we will be at our optimal state of health. Ayurveda is a way of seeing the world and it gives a blueprint to healthy lifestyle that promotes longevity.
Many of you have probably heard the terms Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These represent the bio-energies of the universe. The proportion of the various elements (air, space, fire, water and earth) make up the three bio-energies and it is different for each individual. You are the combination of your parents and receive your body constitution at your conception. There are various possibilities: one constitution (example: Vata) or dual and triple constitutions (example: Pitta-Kapha or Vata-Pitta-Kapha). The first bio-energy named is the primary one. As life with its many events and challenges occur, our constitution never changes, but our current state may have excesses or deficiencies which reflect in a change of our bio-energies. It is then your opportunity to re-establish your bio-energies back to their original state. This can be done with the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner during a consultation.
Vata is made up of the elements air and space and is actually our life force. It is what the Chinese call Qi, the Indians call prana, and the Tibetans call lung. This body-mind energy, Vata, moves through us. It moves the blood in our veins, the food in our gastrointestinal system, the air in our lungs, the thoughts in our minds. It even moves the two other bio-energies, Pitta and Kapha. So when you think of Vata, think movement. The bio-energies physically manifest in various parts of our body. Vata has light, dry, cold, and mobile qualities and is represented in our central nervous system, colon and our joints, as well as other areas. The seat of Vata is the colon.
Pitta is fire and water and makes transformation possible. It is associated with metabolic change and effects our digestive system. It is also part of our glandular system. There are many reasons for metabolic disorder: life style disorder, excessive oily, sweet and fatty foods, overeating, sedentary life pattern, hormonal imbalance, hereditary genes, stress, excessive/improper sleep, and imbalance with the rhythms of life. (Just eating at the correct time consistently can re-set hormones and enzymes for better utilization).
Let me digress for a minute here. We are Living Clocks with biological timers that dictate specific cyclic behaviors for groups of cells, for each organ or for each endocrine gland. Our living clocks are linked to nature’s circadian rhythms which program our DNA to conduct all physical activities with perfect precision. The neurotransmitters, melatonin and serotonin increase and decrease their levels indicating to our cells whether it is dark or light outside and whether they should be more active or slow down their activities. Serotonin has a powerful influence on sexual behavior, memory, appetite, impulsiveness, fear and even suicidal tendencies. Did you know that ninety-five percent of Serotonin is actually made in your gut, not in your brain? How we eat, affects this gut/brain connection. Healthy food equals healthy digestive functions, like in your small intestine (the seat of Pitta). Balancing Pitta and digestive fire creates wellbeing of body and mind.
Kapha is our physical structure and tissues. It is a combination of earth and water and creates cohesion in the body and mind and a sense of feeling grounded. Kapha give us a reliable mind and caring heart. Kapha’s qualities of sticky, moist, and heavy holds things together and allows connections to take place. It is represented by joint, synovial and cerebrospinal fluids, mucous and fat. The seat of Kapha is the stomach and lungs. It aids growth and development and is the body’s supply system. Many of our Olympic athletes have a Kapha constitution which allows them to have the stamina and endurance they need.
According to Ayurveda, we each have a unique blend of these three bio-energies. This means that each person will experience life differently through their particular pattern of energy. This is one reason why medications cannot be generic. It is imperative that any formula be specific to the individual taking it. Side-effects are caused by not taking care to focus on the individual. Also, harm is done when we combine the various ingredients without the understanding of what can and cannot be combined. Ayurveda understands the six tastes and the incompatibility of combining certain foods and therefore one prepares foods, herbs and spices accordingly. Ayurveda works in harmony with nature, not separate from it. It factors many things into what treatment or formula will be given to a person: the body-mind constitution, current imbalance, age, birthplace, time of life, and ecosystem to name a few. Due to the principle that “like attracts like” , the way to balance through Ayurveda is to bring into our lifestyle, the qualities that are opposite to what we inherently possess.
Throughout one’s life, various factors, both internal and external, can disturb the balance of a person’s constitution. Ayurveda helps to re-establish a person’s original constitution. Consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner and set aside time for therapeutic treatments, such as Pancha Karma. It cleanses the body's deep tissues of toxins, opens the subtle channels, and brings energy to your body and mind. Consider, a comprehensive Ayurvedic approach to your wellbeing and experience the cutting edge of a new, yet timeless approach to mind-body rejuvenation.