What is Ayurveda?

Ayurvedic medicine originated in India over 5000 years ago, and has recently exploded onto the Western wellness scene. It explores how one’s mind, body, and lifestyle work in tandem to contribute to overall health, with the aim of restoring balance to the individual.

Ayurveda explores each individuals constitution as a ratio of three Doshas, or energies. The three Dosha’s are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, each of which are associated with different properties.

Vata represents the element air, and is seen to be an enthusiastic, light, bubbly kind of energy. In excess, people with a Vata imbalance would be more prone to anxiety, restlessness, and problems with breath, speech, and circulation.

Pitta is the Dosha associated with fire, and can be irritable, fiery, and inflamed. Too much Pitta would lead to flushed skin, a tough time relaxing, inflammatory disorders, and excess sweat.

Kapha is the earth Dosha, and has a more grounded and rooted energy. An overly Kapha constitution would be associated with sluggishness, depression, overeating, and weight gain.

Various online quizzes will assess your energy levels, sleep, skin, symptoms, mood, and body composition to tell you more about your Dosha ratio’s and if you have an imbalance.

After dealing with skin irritations, acne, bloating, red cheeks, and poor sleep, I turned to Ayurveda out of curiosity and found my constitution skews towards too much Pitta. This makes sense as I frequently deal with inflammatory health issues, impatience, and sweat an inordinate amount. Following Ayurvedic principles, the solution is to balance out the Pitta with more Vata and Kapha energy, and bring my constitution into harmony.

Diet, exercise, and over 700 Ayurvedic herbs play a huge role in our ability to balance out our Doshas. For example, Pitta is associated with fire and heat, so spicy foods would bring about more Pitta in your constitution, whereas Kapha is seen to be very grounded so would accompany root vegetables and earthy flavours.

To balance out the heat, aggravation, and inflammation in my health, Ayurveda would recommend adjusting diet and lifestyle to avoid that fiery sensation.

The following are recommended:

  • raw foods
  • cooling herbs such as parsley, dill, and mint
  • sweet and mild tastes like cucumber, popcorn, green apples
  • grounding and earthy foods and spices like turmeric, potatoes, and oats
  • eating when you feel calm, balanced, and relaxed

While those seeking to minimise Pitta should limit:

  • alcohol, caffeine, and stimulants
  • spices and hot foods
  • sugar
  • oily and deep fried foods
  • pungent, sour, and salty tastes
  • eating when highly emotionally charged

To me, this makes sense.

Spicy foods like chillies are a part of the nightshade family and are well-known to have a slight inflammatory effect – whereas turmeric contains circumin which is incredibly anti-inflammatory and often taken as a supplement.

You’ll also notice that it references numerous whole foods and plants, which is obviously better for your health in numerous ways. And of course, the emphasis on finding a calm, cooling, balanced energy in both your food and mindset, is likely beneficial.

Whilst Ayurveda is seen as an alternative health practice, it’s still very applicable to our modern understanding of science and medicine. From ancient Indian teachings to modern day Goop, Ayurveda has stood the test of time.

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