What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, the ancient healing system of India, dates back to more than 5000 years ago. It is one of the oldest systems of health care in continuous practice in the world today. The word Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit words, Ayus meaning life and longevity, and Veda meaning knowledge or science. Ayurveda is the Science of Life, specifically referring to establishing a healthy integration of the body, mind and spirit.
Ayurveda regards physical and mental health as the foundation for a creative and spiritual life. It is a spiritually inspired healing system that teaches us to employ the principles of nature in practical ways to promote the well-being of the whole person – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The Ayurvedic system of healing teaches that there are three bio-energy principles, known as the three doshas called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The three doshas are responsible for all of our physiological and psychological functions. They are responsible for producing the body, maintaining health when in balance and are the causative factors for ill health when out of balance.
The Mind Body Constitutional Types
Everyone’s body-mind constitutional makeup is a unique combination of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The constitutional type with which we are born remains the same throughout our
lives. However, the body-mind constitution can be disturbed by dosha imbalances.
A Vata constitutional type is often either short or tall, with a light, lean body mass. They have quick, creative minds and are often artistic with a good imagination. Vatas tend to be enthusiastic about life, have a generous attitude, and have an inherent love for freedom. They tend to bore easily with routine, as they favor variety and change in their lives. Their appetite is often unpredictable due to a variable digestive power, and they easily lose weight but find it hard to gain weight. They seek other quick minded, creative types as companions. Vatas learn things quickly but will also forget quickly. They generate many new ideas, but may have trouble putting them into action or seeing them to completion. Vatas enjoy lots of stimulation in their life, often creating an erratic, overly stimulating schedule for themselves; consequently, routine is especially important for Vata types to incorporate into their lifestyle. They are prone to feelings of anxiety, fear and nervousness while under stress. Therefore, lifestyle modifications and activities emphasizing a calming, grounding, and nourishing routine is important.
The Pitta type of personality tends more to a medium build and height, more muscular than a Vata type, and possesses a sharp, focused and analytical mind. The Pitta type is a highly driven personality and is more prone to become a workaholic and a perfectionist than the other constitutional types. They generally have a motivated, purposeful and goal seeking nature. Their digestive power is very strong, and they have less digestive problems than the other constitutional types. Pittas may often tend toward angry (fiery) emotions or to be short on patience when things don’t go as planned. Pitta types are often advised not to be overly goal oriented and to take time out to do things for the sake of enjoyment, like relaxing walks in nature and other non-competitive activities.
The Kapha type has a heavier well developed physique, but with a tendency to become overweight, and finding it hard to lose weight. Their digestive process is generally slow. They can be very strong, athletic, and have good physical stamina. They are often compassionate and have a highly affectionate nature. Kaphas can be very calm and contented people emotionally. They are typically slow to anger, and avoid confrontation whenever possible. Kaphas may take more time to learn a new concept, but possess excellent long term memory. They sometimes appear complacent, not being interested in seeking new emotional and mental stimulation, which often prompts the Ayurvedic practitioner to encourage fresh mental stimulation and physical exercise for Kapha types.
The Importance of Knowing your Type
The importance of understanding our unique dosha type is that we are better equipped to maintain harmony with our individual constitution by selecting lifestyle and eating habits which are balancing to our nature, resulting in the optimization of our health. The predominant dosha in our constitution will tend towards excessive accumulation. Physiological and psychological imbalances (diseases) result when one or more of the doshas excessively accumulate in our body. Overwork, wrong eating habits, constantly being on the go, and certain behavioral patterns can typically cause one or more of the three doshas to go out of balance.
What You Can Expect from an Ayurvedic Consultation
The objective of the initial consultation is to determine your predominant constitutional type (and existing imbalances), and to suggest an individualized program to maintain your constitutional balance, or to re-establish harmony with your constitution. The initial Ayurvedic consultation is typically one and a half hours long and involves an extensive information gathering interview including Ayurvedic pulse and tongue diagnosis. The consultation will normally provide an assessment of temperament, dietary habits, sleeping habits, life long propensities to disease, and the determination of the natural constitution (Prakriti) as well as the current imbalanced state (Vikriti). Pulse evaluation is of foremost importance in determining your natural constitution as well as any existing constitutional imbalances. Tongue examination assesses the energetic influence of the doshas on the digestive tract and internal organ systems. A personalized program usually consists of dietary applications, herbal therapy, self-massage therapy (using specific oils), internal cleansing programs (sometimes including pancha karma), aroma therapy, color therapy, yoga postures, breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation.
Follow-up consultations, lasting about 45 minutes, are regularly scheduled to guide, monitor, and assure the success of your individualized program. Each follow-up consultation normally includes pulse and tongue diagnosis to help assess your progress. Ideally, a trusting rapport develops between the practitioner and the client during the initial consultation to facilitate a meaningful beginning to the healing process.