Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Introduction to Ayurveda-Three Doshas

Ayurveda was born in India more than 5,000 years ago. "Ayu" means life and "Veda" means knowledge from the Vedic texts. This holistic science is the knowledge of a perfect and complete balance of the Body, Mind and Spirit, including emotions and psychology, on all levels.
The dictionary says that "It includes in its consideration, longevity, rejuvenation and self-realization therapies through herbs, diet, exercise, yoga, massage, aromas, tantras, mantras, and meditation."

I come from a 716 year old lineage of women Ayurvedic healers,from Kerala India.We use a combination of Marma therapy (which we will talk about in a future blog), diet, oil treatments, yoga, meditation, breathing techniques and daily routine in our treatments to restore well-being.

According to Ayurvedic tradition health is the balance of the 5 elements air, earth, fire, water and space, and illness is an excess or deficiency of any particular element. Ayurveda treats illness at its source, rather than at the level of symptoms, and helps an individual to take responsibility for their own health and well-being.

The sister science of Yoga, Ayurveda was recognized by the World Health Organization as an effective system of medicine. Wellness decisions, including diet, exercise, and appropriate style of Yoga, are based on one's individual body type and physiological constitution.

Let's understand what these body types are all about.The structural aspect of the body is made up of five elements as we saw above, but the functional aspect of the body is governed by three biological humors or doshas.

A combination of the element ether and air constitutes vata; fire and water, pitta; and water and earth, kapha. Vata, pitta and kapha are the three doshas that are the three biological components of a living organism. They govern psycho-biological and physio-pathological changes. Vata-pitta-kapha are present in every cell, tissue and organ. They are present in varied permutations and combinations in every living organism.

According to Ayurveda, there are seven body types:


2.Pitta, or
3.Kapha predominant

5.Pitta-Kapha, or

7.Vata, pitta and kapha in equal proportions
Every individual has a unique combination of these three doshas and they surface in each individual according to their different qualities or gunas.

This dosha is dry, light, cold, mobile, active, clear, astringent and it disperses.It is possible that all of these qualities manifest in an individual. For example, if a person has excess vata in his or her constitution, because of the dry quality, he or she will have dry hair, dry skin, dry colon and a tendency towards constipation.

Vatas normally have a light body frame, light muscles and have light fat.They are likely to be thin and underweight.They have cold hands, cold feet and poor circulation. They hate the winter and love summer. Vata people are very active. Relaxing forms of yoga, swimming and calming exercises are ideal for the vata individual.They are the most easily exhausted of all the doshas.

Vata is subtle, and this subtle quality is responsible for the emotions of fear, anxiety, insecurity and nervousness. Vata is clear, therefore vata people can be clairvoyant; they have clear understanding and are very perceptive.They have high comprehension but also have bad recollection.Vatas because of their restless nature require a regular intake of nourishment and should sit down to eat or drink at regular intervals of time.

This dosha has hot, sharp, light, liquid, sour, oily and spreading qualities.Pittas have a strong smell and a sour or bitter taste. If an individual has excess pitta in the body, these qualities will be manifested. Pittas like their food and have a healthy appetite. Their body type is average build and well proportioned. The body temperature is a little higher than the vata person.

Pittas have very sharp facial features.They also have a sharp memory and use strong vocabulary to speak their mind. Pittas have a tendency to be sensitive to the sun.They like to read before they go to bed and sometimes pittas sleep with a book on the chest. They have premature hair loss in most cases.They have a fabulous sense of humour and a very warm personality.

Pittas love knowledge and are fabulous leaders and communicators.They are often wise, brilliant people, but can have a controlling, dominating personality. Pittas love competition and challenges.They are perfectionists. Jogging and team sports are good for Pitta.They should play for enjoyment rather than to win!

The third dosha is kapha. Kaphas are generally heavy, slow, cool, oily, liquid, dense, thick, static and cloudy.They are sweet and salty and have heavy set bones, muscles and fat. They will have a tendency to put on weight. Kaphas have the capacity to put on weight with a water fast! They have slow metabolism and digestion. Kapha people are naturally athletic but are in need of motivation.

They have a strong appetite. They are sensitive, emotional and require understanding.They have a tendency to turn toward food for emotional support that usually leads to weight problems.Kapha people are inclined to be slow and steady.They are methodical and pragmatic.They have an innate organising ability.

They have thick and wavy hair, smooth skin and beautiful, big and attractive eyes. Kaphas are very loving and compassionate. They have a sweet tooth.They tend to be sleepy people.They should address their aversion to any kind of exercise and physical activity.Vigorous exercise is good for kaphas.Eg: running, aerobics, fast swimming and weight training.

Now that we have an idea of what the doshas are all about, let us understand that by identifying our Dosha type, we have a better comprehension of our body and our mind.The main aim of Ayurvedic medicine is to improve health and longevity, leaving the individual free to contemplate matters of the spirit and to follow a spiritual path.The entire Ayurvedic lifestyle change is very practical in its applications.

Ayurvedic philosophy encourages those who practise it to eat fruits and seeds of the earth, rather than take the life of another living being. I have seen that people who accept an ancient form of cleansing, treatment and well-being (Ayurveda) in their lives, respect their bodies, detoxify their minds and enjoy their spirit. Ayurveda is a holistic science that enriches and enlivens your spiritual journey.

©2010-Vaidya Priyanka

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