Introduction to Ayurveda
Welcome friends to the Pharm Kitchen Table, a place where we seek to impart wisdom and knowledge to our community. Today, we are introducing you to one of our pillars of nourishment and balance: Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is a holistic science of health that started around 6,000 years ago by Indian Monks who sought ways to improve and maintain the health of their bodies, which they regarded as temples. They believed finding this balance would aid in meditation and deepen their spirituality. They studied and collected their findings over thousands of years and formed a collection known as "knowledge of life".
Have you ever tried or heard about 'fad diets' that work for some people but completely fail for others? When adults told us as children that 'everyone is unique', they were right. Every person has different ways of functioning, and if you do not understand your your body, you will never be able to treat it completely right. Imagine trying to work on a car when you aren't a mechanic, pretty impossible. This article will take you on the Ayurvedic understanding of the body distilled into three major categories called "Doshas".
**1. Vata Dosha -- Energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and your heartbeat.
- In balance: There is creativity and vitality.
- Out of balance: Can produce fear and anxiety.
**2. Pitta Dosha -- Energy that controls the body's metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body's temperature.
- In balance: Leads to contentment and intelligence.
- Out of balance: Can cause ulcers and anger.
**3. Kapha Dosha -- Energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system.
- In balance: Expressed as love and forgiveness.
- Out of balance: Can lead to insecurity and envy.
Now, everybody has all three, but one or two are typically dominant in each person. We highly recommend you take a quiz (this one is from Holistic Online) to discover your dominant Dosha. Do keep in mind that your type can change with age, life situation, and even seasons. Taking in depth, thoughtful quizzes from different sources can aid in a better picture of your type.
Every type has basic guidelines to bring balance to the individuals mind+body+spirit. Once you discover your type, it would be beneficial to explore more information on your type especially if you have been feeling out of balance. These are just the basics on each type.
VATA- Because of the functions it controls, Vata is the gatekeeper to the other two Doshas. If left unbalanced, it will also throw Pitta and Kapha off balance. Vata is in charge of:
- All eliminations: fetus, semen, feces, urine, and sweat.
- Assists with metabolisms in the body (Agni), transformation of tissues.
- Controls movement in body (mental and physical) such as respiration, heartbeat, motivation, contraction of muscles, and natural urges.
- Relays all sensory input to the brain, motor functions.
- Governs nervous system. ***
Tips: Try to maintain regular habits such as bed and waking times, eat warm foods, sweet berries, dairy products, small beans and rice. Yoga, swimming, and other low impact physical activities help lower stress levels.
Type: Small body frame, does not gain weight easily. Very quick to learn and quick to forget. Moods change quickly, easily stressed, irregular sleep patterns, aversion to cold weather (and typically has cold hands and feet) cannot stay idle, quick walking pace. Bad at saving money.
PITTA - The catalyst of transformation:
- Metabolism, from digestion of food to transformation of all other material.
- Thermogenesis – maintains the proper body temperature.
- Comprehension of information into knowledge / reasoning and judgment.
- Complexion – gives color and softness to skin.***
Tips: Highly susceptible to feeling negative emotions: hostility, hatred, intolerance, and jealousy** Avoid any heat elements such as direct sunlight, spicy foods, alcohol, tobacco, overworking, and conflicts. Aim to develop traits such as honesty and kindness to bring balance. Ingest watery, sweet produce such as melons, cucumbers, avocados, cherries, and mangoes. Also keep dark greens in daily diet.
Type: Medium frame and weight, thin hair with curls, pink to red skin, competitive, sharp intellect and wit, good memory. Slow changing moods but with quick anger. Aggressive, aversion to hot weather, likes things to be orderly, good digestion, never misses a meal. Good at saving but is a big spender.
KAPHA- The heaviest of all the Doshas. It is the pillar of structure and lubrication of the body:
- Strength and energy.
- Moistness and lubrication.
- Stability to add the necessary grounding aspect to both mind and body.
- Mass and structure to provide fullness to bodily tissues.
- Fertility and virility.
Tips: It is very important for Kaphas to maintain engage in physical activity daily as they are the most susceptible to weight gain and depression. Always seek out new experiences and maintain ties with friends and loved ones. Oily, heavier foods are detrimental to this type. Eat foods that are light, dry, warm, and spicy. Ginger and lemon tea works wonders to this type.
Type: Large frame, easily gains weight. Thick oily hair, pale oily skin. Slow walking pace, excellent strength and endurance. Calm and steady, long term memory, very understanding and easy going. Saves money, accumulates wealth, aversion to cold damp weather.
Remember, these are just introductory descriptions. We will no doubt be focusing more on each type in the near future. We would love to hear from our readers in the comments which type you are at this time in your life. Do you have any questions we can answer?
Pharm Table Founder Chef Elizabeth Johnson Hosts an Interactive Workshop Every Week (now at our new Downtown location!) that educates our clients on the three doshas and how to cook for your body type. To join in, click below:
**descriptions from: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-1117/Ayurveda-Dosha-Types-for-Beginners.html
*** from http://lifespa.com/vata-ayurvedic-constitution/