Of course, you’ve found yourself on a yoga mat. But did you know that Yoga has a sister named Ayurveda? And fortunately, Ayurveda is becoming increasingly popular. It was kind of the buzz word of 2020.
In this article:
- You’ll read what Ayurveda is and why it is becoming increasingly popular.
- You’ll find out what 5 elements form the basis of Ayurveda
- You’ll learn more about the doshas and how to recognize it within yourself
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda can be translated as the science for a long and healthy life. While the yoga philosophy has traditionally focused on achieving enlightenment, Ayurveda aims to keep the yogis alive as long and healthily as possible. Ayurveda is a holistic science, i.e. the body, mind and soul are seen as one. In short, with an unhealthy body you probably don’t feel mentally stable. Conversely, if you don’t feel well mentally and emotionally, this has an impact on your physical system.
Everyone is unique
The special thing about Ayurveda is that it considers each person to be a unique individual. You’re built differently, inside and out, than your neighbor. What’s good for you is not necessarily good for someone else. Maybe you have a colleague who enjoys a salad every lunch without any problems, while lettuce leaves and raw vegetables make you feel bloated. Or maybe you’ll find yourself feeling much lighter and more energetic when you eat breakfast with oatmeal in the morning than when you start your day with yogurt. Ayurveda gives you the explanations for this and helps you to feel comfortable in your own skin.
The 5 elements & the doshas
An important concept in Ayurveda is that everything and everyone consists of the 5 elements. The elements are earth, water, fire, air and space. Because the quantity and composition of these elements differs in everyone, we are all a little different. But roughly you can divide the elements into 3 groups, namely Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (earth and water). This is also called the 3 doshas. Although all three of us also have the doshas, there is a good chance that 1 or 2 of those doshas are most clearly present with you. Once you know which dosha you recognize yourself most in, it becomes easier to make choices in terms of nutrition, lifestyle and exercise that benefit your health.
Vata: the creative, agile, free spirit
Vatas are infectiously energetic and are often the shining centrepiece in company. They’re full of ideas. They understand things easily and do things quickly. Vatas tend to talk a lot, move a lot and do a lot of things at the same time. They love changes and get bored quickly. Vatas often find it difficult to sit still, and do not find easy peace and orientation in themselves. Because of the two elements of air and space, they can’t hold things. This is reflected in the mind by forgetting things easily and in the body by not being able to store energy – they exhaust themselves when they are not taking good care of themselves. Vatas are often on the light side, with long limbs and irregular shapes. They tend to have dry skin and get cold quickly. When Vata is out of balance you may experience bloating, constipation, flatulence, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and joint pain.
Pitta: The ambitious leader
Pittas, consisting of the elements fire and water, have fiery personalities. They love a good debate or sporting event where they can be competitive. They are great leaders and have a very sharp and fast intellect. Pittas are good problem solvers, but tend to be quirky and controlling. They want everything to be done their way and they want an explanation for everything. Pittas are also list-makers and extremely organized. Their socks are probably ironed, folded and stowed according to color. Balanced Pittas have a razor-sharp mind, radiant skin, a witty sense of humor and can attract others to follow their direction. Pittas are medium sized, often with an athletic build. Their skin has a nice tone and glow and they can have freckles and moles. Pittas are more likely to have a receding hairline or early baldness. They are sensitive to heat and sunlight. Pitta can express itself in jealousy, anger, selfishness, acne, sour stomach, rash, diarrhea, inflammation and migraine.
Kapha: the dedicated, loving carer
Kapha’s are peacemakers, good listeners and carers. They are often loved by everyone. In balance they are tolerant, good company and very loyal. Their mind is stable with a positive and sweet attitude. Water and earth become mud together, and it’s hard to get moving. Kapha also doesn’t like to move around much and needs some extra encouragement. They don’t like change and can get attached to experiences, emotions, relationships and things from the past. Kapha’s usually have a coarser build and a strong physical. They are the least susceptible to disease. The skin is usually pale and well hydrated. Their hair is thick and shiny. The eyes of a Kapha are big and shiny like a Bambi. Kapha’s tend to gain weight easily and have a hard time losing pounds. Kaphas off balance, for example, may suffer from excessive mucus, blockages, obesity, wet cough, greed, lethargy, uncertainty and an excessive desire for sleep.
Do you recognize yourself in one of the above descriptions? Or do you have any signs that one of the doshas may be abundant? Ayurveda gives you both self-knowledge and the tools to work with it. And this is exactly why more and more people are getting acquainted with Ayurveda.
I wrote this guest blog for Happy with Yoga: www.happywithyoga.com.