The basic principles of Ayurveda
Ayurveda – The Science of Life
The whole concept of Ayurveda is over 5000 years old and the fundament of many other eastern Medicines like TCM. It’s based on the idea that there are three different body constitutions that are based on the four elements fire, water, earth, air. We call those body types Doshas. One type is called Vata and is based on air. The next one is called Pitta and is based on the element of fire. The last type is called Kapha and is based on the elements of water and earth.
The vata body type is like its element air very light, windy, cold and dry. People who are very high in vata tend to BE or feel like those characteristics. A vata person often has cold hands and feet, is either very tall and skinny or small and petit. They often feel like the wind and fly from one idea to the next. Vatas are creative, easy going and slightly confused at times. They have many good ideas but often overthink them and run to the next one. They are the thinkers. If they are imbalanced they worry, feel anxious and have mental dis-eases.
The body parts that are vata influenced are the head (psychology) and the bones (they store lots of air). So if you are the bone cracker pro – that’s you!
Many artists, yogis or entrepreneurs are vata. Vatas don’t like to follow the crowd but they don’t like to make decisions or be the boss either. That’s why they are best off as entrepreneurs and freelancer.
Example of a vata: Steve Jobs.
Pitta is fiery. And you definitely feel that burn. Pitta has the characteristics of hot, oily, spicy and dominant. That means that people who have a lot of pitta energy are ambitious, goal oriented, disciplined and straightforward. They make great leaders. If they go overboard they get aggressive, moody and overheat. They easily get red faces, inflammation and heartburn. They put on muscles easily and make great athletes.
They are the typical type A personality and like things organized and planned.
The body part that is pitta influenced is the digestive system. They burn food easily and need regular meals in order to stay sane.
Example of a pitta: Donald Trump (he has a bit too much tho!)
The last of the three Doshas is Kapha. Kapha is grounded, slow, cold and smooth as earth and water. Its characteristics usually tend towards lethargic, motherly and caring. Kaphas like harmony and kindness. They are more on the slower side, easily take things personally and get sad. They feel like they carry the world on their shoulders (and they sometimes do!) and get depressed, sad and lazy. When they are out of balance they gain weight easily, feel heavy and tired.
The body part that belongs to Kapha is the lymphatic system and skin. You can identify a Kapha person by the smooth, slightly oily, pale skin, the curvy body, and the silk and thick hair.
Examples of Kapha: Oprah Winfrey
But now what does that information help us? Well let me tell you – it can lead you from hell to heaven, from dis-ease to health, from depression to joy.
Ayurveda is a holistic way of preventing or curing disease and illness in various ways. That means it considers ALL areas of your life: Nutrition, Movement, Lifestyle, Relationships, Age, Season, Time of the day, Sleep, and so on...
For example: If you happen to have too much Pitta in your body because you are stressed AF at work, run from one thing to another, a million decisions to make and feel like you have so much stress and pressure either from work or a relationship/family situation that affects your body and you might feel symptoms such as bad skin, rashes, heartburn, loose stool or diarrhea, losing a lot of hair etc. If you then on top of it train for a marathon or eat a diet high in oils, lots of fried food or too much sugar or wheat you can end in pretty bad conditions.
From an Ayurveda standpoint what you’d need is more cooling foods such as leafy greens, raw vegetables, and lean protein. Pittas usually have a strong appetite and need their meals regularly, maybe even have a snack between meals (veggies & hummus, sprouted nuts, protein smoothie). Important to know: If you are still hungry after a meal that’s a sign that you had too little protein, not too little carbs.
Also – you can have the best diet possible but if you don’t slow down from time to time and give your body and mind a rest you’ll burn out very quickly. And by rest, I don’t mean chilling on the couch watching TV. Do some yoga, meditate, read a book, listen to some music, have a cup of tea and watch the birds. Take time for yourself and relax.
Kaphas on the other hand need movement. They want some more of that pitta fire, eat more dry, warming foods, lots of spices such as ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and little starches and sugars (also fruit). They want to fill their plates with predominantly vegetables, add some protein (plant-based works great for kaphas because it’s easier to digest) and some healthy fats such as olive oil or avocado. For a Kapha body, it’s necessary to move on a daily basis, do more cardiovascular training and more powerful yoga sessions such as Ashtanga or Vinyasa.
Last but not least if your body is having too much vata (losing weight without trying, thin hair and nails, cracking bones, constipation...) then you should opt for warming and comforting foods, more starches such as sweet potatoes or pumpkin and sweet fruit. Also, avoid raw veggies since they are hard on your already weak digestion. Do more gentle yoga, meditate daily and nourish your body with all you can (grounding exercises like walks in nature, a dip in the ocean...)
All right, this is just a very basic overlook on the three ayurvedic doshas and I could keep talking about it forever with no end. So if you want to learn more about Ayurveda and its principles check out the whole Series on our education page (released soon) and keep your eyes peeled for some events and workshops. I guarantee you don’t wanna miss any of it ;-)
Wishing you great health and happy moments.