Considered to be the oldest healing science, Ayurveda focuses on balancing health by prevention and maintenance through diet, positive thinking, lifestyle, and the use of herbs. According to Ayurvedic Doctors, “each person has a particular pattern of energy – an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics – which comprises their own constitution.” That constitution is determined at birth and remains the same throughout a person’s life. Multiple internal and external factors can disturb that balance and work against the person, which then can lead to disease and disorder.
Three basic energies, or doshas, are present in everyone and everything: vata, pitta, and kapha. In Ayurveda, these doshas are related to the basic biology of the body, providing movement for fluids and nutrients to get to the cells, metabolising the nutrients and fluids in the cells while lubricating and maintaining the structure of the cells for optimum health. All people have a combination of vata, pitta, and kapha, but one is usually primary and the cause of disease in Ayurveda is “due to an excess or deficiency of vata, pitta, or kapha” within a person’s body.
Ayurveda’s Basic Energies or Doshas:
Vata – energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and heartbeat. When vata energy is balanced, there is creativity and vitality. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety.
Pitta – energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and temperature. In balance, pitta leads to contentment and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta can cause ulcers and arouse anger.
Kapha – energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturises the skin, and maintains the immune system. In balance, kapha is expressed as love and forgiveness. Out of balance, kapha leads to insecurity and envy.
Doshas are determined by a variety of characteristics, such as body type, diet, sleep patterns, and emotions. The Ayurvedic Wellness Centre provides an easy check-list to assist in figuring out which is your primary dosha. The basic difference between Ayurveda and Western medicine is that Western medicine focuses mainly on symptoms and disease, using drugs and surgery to cure the body; whereas Ayurveda does not focus on the disease, but rather on the preventative health by keeping the body in balance.
How Does Food Affect Doshas?
In Ayurveda, it is important that food be good quality, preferably organic and naturally grown. Ayurveda also promotes a mostly vegetarian diet, with little meat. Food should always be eaten calmly, not in a rush, to promote easier digestion. Also, depending on your primary dosha, what you eat can affect your energy balance. Some foods will trigger an imbalance if eaten in excess depending on your dosha. Here is a great chart to determine which foods should be favoured or avoided.
While Ayurveda may seem like a trend in health, this ancient natural healing system has been around for more than 5,000 years and many of the more familiar Western natural healing practices, such as homoeopathy and polarity therapy, are rooted in Ayurveda.