Ayurveda (translated from Sanskrit as “The Science of Life”) was founded in the Indian subcontinent more that 5,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest medical systems in the world.
It is a holistic medical system that focuses on the health and wellbeing of the individual, with the key understanding that the physical, mental and energetic bodies are integrated and can influence one another. Both Ayurveda and Yoga come from the ancient Vedic texts, and are considered sister sciences meant to be practiced together. Understanding that to achieve the goal of Yoga (self-realization) time would be required, Ayurveda was developed to provide the foundation for a strong and healthy body that can age well and support a life-long spiritual practice.
The foundations of this science are based on the principle that all living beings have a unique makeup or constitution related to the energies of the mind and body. The energies are composed of the five elements of the universe: aakash (space), vayu (air), teja (fire), jala (water) and prithvi (earth). A combination of each element results in three humors (or doshas), known as vāta, pitta and kapha. Vāta is space and air. Pitta is fire and water. Kapha is water and earth. You can learn more about the characteristics of each humor from our dosha quick guide. The doshas are considered to be responsible for a person’s physiological, mental and emotional well-being. A balanced constitution is optimal for good health, while an imbalanced dosha is prone to illness in mind and/or body. Also central to Ayurveda (and Yoga) is the need to individualize teachings and healing practices for each person’s unique constitution and changing conditions.
We are each born with a unique constitution, called our Prakruti, which is a combination of the three doshas. Think of your Prakruti as being a blueprint of your physiological and psychological tendencies determined by the presence of all three doshas in varying degrees, in a combination that is specific to you (usually only one or two doshas is dominant). From the moment you were born you were affected by your environment, circumstances, interactions, diet, etc. and all of these things have impacted your original dosha Prakruti and moved it to an imbalanced state called dosha Vakruti.
By completing a thorough assessment, we can understand your unique dosha, identify imbalances and work to treat the root causes. This is a key differentiator of the holistic and therapeutic approach to Ayurvedic medicine. Beyond simply identifying the imbalance, which may be causing forms of “dis-ease” in your mind and body (such as a rash, irritability, constipation, lack of motivation, anxiety, trouble sleeping, gastro-intestinal issues, etc.), we look to uncover the root that is causing these symptoms and provide a therapeutic and holistic approach for healing. If we do not address these imbalances, which for some people may seem like “no big deal”, it can lead to more serious forms of disease, which is why Ayurveda’s focus on lifestyle choices and prevention to support greater health is so critical.
Though it is important to know your constitution at birth it can be difficult to identify. By working with one of our Ayurvedic practitioners, we can help you identify your unique constitution and, more practically, understand your imbalances. Once we identify your imbalance our Ayurvedic specialists can gently lead your dosha back to its proper home through various healing interventions (nutrition, herbal support, yoga therapy, self-care, etc.), thereby alleviating the turmoil caused by it moving from its natural state.
In addition to what happens internally, nature is an external living force also aligned with the energetic doshic principles. There is a time of day, time of life and season and that is specific to each dosha. The seasonal shifts are critical to understand from the Ayurvedic perspective in order to live in alignment with nature and with oneself. In spring we see rebirth and growth, and it is the time of kapha. In summer we experience heat and humidity, and it is the time of pitta. In fall/winter the drying winds indicate it is the time of vāta. What is being experienced externally in nature can also be experienced within each of us, possibly causing imbalances in our mind and body. And so with each season, our Ayurvedic practitioners can help you integrate dosha balancing practices into your wellness routine to maintain balance and optimal health.
Signs and symptoms of imbalances are a map of clues that when assessed thoroughly can be supported to bring the mind and body back to a state of balance with the goal of slowing down the disease process or avoiding it altogether. Sign-up today for our in-depth Holistic Health Assessment, which includes an Ayurvedic dosha assessment, to work with our Ayurvedic health and wellness coaches to understand your imbalances and become supported with the right protocols to bring your mind, body and energies back into balance.