Introduction to Ayurveda

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White Sands, NM

White Sands, NM

Ayurveda is considered the oldest system of diet, health and healing in the world, beginning thousands of years ago on the Indian subcontinent.  Ayurveda sees medicine and diet as complementary rather than separate, and places particular emphasis on diet and lifestyle choices for prevention of disease/illness.The human body, and the body of the universe, is composed of prana or life force energy.  This energy is further subdivided into five elements: fire, water, earth, air, ether/space.  Any imbalance of any one of these elements results in discomfort, disease, illness, or pain.  These elements are kept in harmony in the body through consumption of food, water, sunshine, exercise and sleep.   When we are born, we have an innate and unique combination of the five elements called prakriti. The term for the combinations of the five elements is doshas.  The doshas are: Pitta (fire, water), Vata (air, space/ether) and Kapha (earth, water.)   Each person can be one dosha, a combination of two, or a combination of all three equally (tri-doshic.) Typically, most people are predominantly one or two doshas.   The goal of Ayurveda is to not try and force a person to have an equal amount of the five elements (or equally present the three doshas) but to honor the uniqueness of the individual and emphasize balance and harmony within the person.   When we are in balance and in harmony, we are in good health, when we are out of balance we are in poor health.  Our diet and lifestyle choices can promote or inhibit our body’s natural state of balance (prakriti.)   The power of food (in particular, beans, vegetables, seeds, fruits, grains, and herbs) is manifested and realized through proper combinations in coordination with an individual’s unique dosha combination.  An example of imbalance could be a Pitta type person (fire and water) who consumes too many spicy foods in the summer who ends up with a prickly heat rash and short temper.  It’s like adding more logs to an already healthy fire – the fire begins to burn outrageously out of control!

Your current state of health or imbalance is called your vikriti.  The goal is that your vikriti is in harmony with your prakriti.  When imbalance occurs (ie illness, disease, discomfort, pain, etc) one or more doshas can be aggravated.  This is when “reducing” or “calming” a particular dosha comes in.  The Pitta person, described above, would have to begin a Pitta calming, reducing or pacifying diet and lifestyle plan to bring their Pitta dosha back into its natural state of balance (ie control the fire.)  

 
Find your constitution (prakriti) and then  find your imbalance/current condition (vikriti.) Your vikriti tells you what dosha needs to be addressed. I like Banyan Botanicals’ easy to use Prakriti and Vikriti tests: http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/constitutions/  Take the Prakriti test, then follow the tiny link to the vikriti test! 

 When you took your dosha test, what were your results?  Do they seem to mesh with how you feel about yourself?  Did one description sound more like you than another?  If you aren’t sure about your dosha, you are probably Vata!  Personally, I prefer Banyan Botanicals tests and summations more than others that are available online.  Another thing to consider with the Prakriti test is if you had checked mainly one category but only a few in another category.  Think about when these few stray checks came into your life – a few years ago, a few months ago?  This can indicate your vikriti or state of imbalance.  Your innate dosha does not change over time. 

The goal of healing and wellness is to get back to our true selves, our true natures, where we were once whole and in balance and harmony with both the universe/nature and ourselves.

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