Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. Originating in India 5,000 years ago, it relies on a natural and holistic approach to physical, mental and emotional health.
The word “Ayurveda” is derived from Sanskrit and means “science of life.” In Ayurveda, there’s an underlying belief that everything in life is connected. Because of this, general health and wellness rely on achieving balance and harmony.
When a person is imbalanced or stressed, they’re likely to develop disease. Ayurveda focuses on implementing lifestyle interventions and natural treatments, therapies and remedies to provide balance among your physical body, mind, spirit and the world around you.
Some ancient healing traditions, such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, suggest all individuals have energy, Chinese medicine calls this energy system chi; Ayurveda calls this prana. Just like blood has to flow smoothly and in balance, Ayurveda suggests the energy system in the body also has to flow well and be in balance for us to be healthy.
Balance is achieved with the help of a healthy diet, restful sleep, regular exercise and stress management. If needed, botanicals, exercise, activities that promote mindfulness and other resources may offer additional support.
Every individual is unique, and Ayurveda defines a person’s specific constitution, or prakriti. According to Ayurveda, these prakriti determine your physical, psychological, behavioral and immunological traits. Different constitutions respond to different treatments, so what works for you might not work for someone else.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, each person’s constitution is made up of three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. You can think of doshas as energy types: each of these doshas is believed to dictate your emotional strengths and weaknesses, the foods your body needs and wants, the exercises that might work the best for you and more. Ayurvedic practitioners seek to help you find a balance among all three doshas. When the doshas are out of balance, illness occurs. The Ayurvedic practitioner uses nutrition, stress management, exercise and sometimes herbs to help a person regain health and balance.
According to Ayurveda philosophy, vata controls the flow of movement in your body and mind. Vata determines your flexibility, the movement of your muscles and joints, your blood flow and the way you breathe.
If you’re dominant in vata, you’re creative, flexible and quick to action. As you’re snappy, you also have the downside of worrying or feeling anxious when you have too much vata.
Pitta is loosely translated as “fire,” so think of this energy type as something that consumes other things. Pitta, in Ayurvedic theory, is responsible for controlling digestion, hormones and metabolism.
If you’re dominant in pitta, you tend to be dominant in leadership, competitive, strong-willed, confident and focused. In Ayurveda, when your pitta is off balance, you might be quick to anger or excitement, make rash decisions or participate in self-destructive behavior. Pitta imbalance also presents itself in
inflammation, rashes, skin conditions like eczema or acne, and digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea and more.
Kapha is the element that holds everything together, from your cells to your muscles, bones and ligaments. The densest of the three doshas, kapha is known for endurance and lubrication.
If you’re dominant in kapha, you may be comfortable sticking to a routine. Emotionally, you like to set expectations and hold to them. Kapha-dominant individuals are loyal, nurturing and dependent on others. But when imbalanced, kapha can cause excessive fatigue, weight gain, swelling, disinterest in new activities and inability to let things go.
What to expect from your first consultation
Brenda will evaluate you holistically, looking into your lifestyle, how you’re eating, how you’re taking care of yourself, your thinking process, your spiritual beliefs, your stress management, your exercises and your environment.
She will take all these factors into consideration to understand where you are, and where you have an imbalance, what may have contributed to it, then make a plan for going forward to help you restore balance.
From there, you can work together to find small lifestyle changes you can make each day that can benefit you and provide balance. Some lifestyle changes may include adjusting your bedtime, carving out a space for self-care and reflection, or even just increasing your physical activity.
There are all sorts of things you can do to create this routine to establish greater balance according to Ayurvedic principles, and daily practices that help with detoxification. In Ayurveda, food is medicine, what you eat matters. You can change your diet and add specific herbs to support your health.
Whatever is right for you as an individual.