Ayurveda is neither an academic subject nor a weird exotic theory. Ayurveda means
“the science of life” and is a holistic approach to healing. It is based on ancient Eastern methods that help you attain health by re-establishing the body's natural balance and energy.
In this article, I will tell you how to benefit from Ayurveda in your busy everyday life. I will give you information about your doshas, some practical tips to know which of them needs balancing and how you can find and that balance.
Benefit from Ayurveda in your everyday life
Ayurveda is best understood as a way of life. But that does not prevent you from applying its basic principles to your everyday life, in order to benefit from them.
For instance, did you know that when you have a cold, avoiding dairy products and sweets helps you to recover faster? Or that when you are nervous -or anxious- eating salads is NOT the best idea? You might know however that when you are irritable -or angry- spicy foods are not recommendable.
It all depends on the state of your doshas. Doshas, or humors, are the three basic constitutional types pursuant to Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta and Kapha (collectively called the tridosha). The Vata energy is composed by air and ether. The Pitta energy is made up of fire and water. The Kapha energy is composed by Earth and Water.
Each of us has an Ayurvedic constitution, where one of the doshas predominates over the others. Some people are bi-doshic, meaning that two of their doshas are equally strong. Generally speaking, Ayurvedic body types are as follows:
Vata people are usually thin-framed, nervous, imaginative, artistic, sensitive, and creative. Pitta people are usually medium-framed, rational, sharp-minded, competitive and goal oriented people. Kapha people are usually more heavily framed and tend to be calm, caring, patient and compassionate.
When the natural balance in your doshas is deranged, ailments appear. So the way to health is to restore their natural balance. But how do you know which of your doshas is deranged?
How to know which of your doshas needs balancing
Ayurvedic expert practitioners examine your radial pulse with their fingers (Nadi diagnosis) and are able to identify up to 95 per cent of all known diseases from your pulse alone. They also check your tongue, face, eyes, nails and lips. They look closely at your pathological symptoms and many factors involving your general lifestyle, behavior and diet, in order to make recommendations that will balance you. It is a very comprehensive and holistic way to diagnose.
And if you study and begin to understand Ayurveda, you realize that your own body can tell you many things. Because, as Dr. John Diamond says, “your body doesn’t lie”. If you are experiencing some ailments like depression, constipation, dizziness, restless mind, insomnia, sciatica, backache, rheumatoid arthritis, varicose veins, menstrual disorders, dry skin or even wrinkles, chances are that your Vata dosha has being deranged. Negative emotions like fear, anxiety, timidity, lack of confidence, apprehension or nervousness contribute to derange the Vata dosha.
But if you are experiencing some ailments like irritability, anger, bitter taste in the mouth, peptic ulcer, hypertension, migraine headache, liver disorder or hemorrhoids, chances are that your Pitta dosha has being deranged. Negative emotions like anger, hatred, intolerance, resentment, impatience, indignation or irritability contribute to derange the Pitta dosha.
On the other side, if you are feeling very lethargic or your are experiencing ailments like sore throat, bronchitis, emphysema, or sinus congestion, chances are that your Kapha dosha has been deranged. Lethargy and negative emotions like stubbornness, possessiveness, greed or jealousy contribute to derange the Kapha dosha.
A quick Tibetan test
Your body can also tell you in some simple ways. Just observe it. Tibetans, for instance, use a simple daily test to know when they have a tendency towards a derangement of Vata, Pitta or Kapha. They collect their urine in a clear transparent jar first thing in the morning. Then they check the urine’s appearance to determine if they have an excess of air (Vata), bile (Pitta) or phlegm (Kapha) in their bodies at that moment.
How can they tell? Simple. If the urine looks watery, almost transparent, there is an excess of air in their bodies (Vata). If the urine has a strong yellow or brownish appearance, fire (Pitta) is predominant in their bodies at that moment. If the urine looks very pale and foaming, there is a predominance of phlegm (Kapha) in their bodies.
How can you balance a Vata, Pitta or Kapha derangement?
Ayurveda offers many ways to heal and restore your natural balance and energy. A targeted diet to “pacify” your specific deranged dosha is one of them. These are the general principles:
To pacify Vata: Realize that Vata is cold and dry. So have hot drinks like ginger tea, or chamomile tea. Center your diet around broths, cheese (warm, not cold) –as long as you are not lactose intolerant- , carrots, onions and spinach –cooked, not raw- , garlic and spices. Avoid cold foods such as salads (because raw salads increase the air in your body) and ice cream. Generally speaking, avoid cold foods, raw foods and dry foods. Eat warm, oily, moist foods instead. Have also regular meal times. Regularity is important too.
To pacify Pitta: Realize that Pitta is hot. So balance it with cold light foods such as cool water, salads, yoghurt and cooling herbs. Avoid meat and alcohol. Also avoid sour, salty, fried and spicy foods. Boring diet? Not necessarily, since Pitta people can enjoy oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast, salads for lunch and rice dishes and pasta for dinner.
To balance Kapha: Realize that Kapha is heavy, cold and humid. So balance it with dry, light foods, spices, vegetables and salads. Avoid sweet and salty foods. Also avoid dairy foods (because they are heavy and produce mucus in your body), fried foods (because they are oily) and frozen foods. Wheat is not good for Kapha. But you can enjoy muesli (without wheat) for breakfast and drink apple juice instead of cold milk. You can also enjoy salads (but with very little oil-based dressing) for lunch and dishes with basmati rice (other types of rice are heavy) or millet, or baked apples with clove and cinnamon for dinner.
What about life styles, daily routines and leisure?
Generally speaking, Vata people need to introduce regularity to their lives. Routine is good to pacify Vata. Yoga, meditation or gentle –not exhausting- exercises are good for Vata. Pitta people, on the other hand, tend to be very organized and are sometimes too achievement-oriented, so relaxing things and activities that do not involve competition (like a relaxing walk, or water and winter sports) are good to pacify an excess of Pitta. Kapha people tend to dislike exercise, but can derive benefit from it once they are motivated. They can also benefit from activity vacations that sparkle new interests. Reviewing and changing their routine often is beneficial for Kapha people.
Any other Ayurvedic treatments?
As previously said, Ayurveda expert practitioners resort to many ways to heal and restore your natural balance and energy. The practice of using herbs and other natural substances to help cleanse or detoxify the body is an ancient Ayurvedic tradition. Today, health conscious individuals benefit from body cleansing and detoxification with natural (i.e.non-GMO), non-allergenic (i.e. gluten-free, dairy-free) herbal remedies that can be beneficial to your overall healthy lifestyle aims. Whether or not you are someone who has tried various diet plans, this kind of cleansing and detoxification could be beneficial.
A targeted diet for your specific dosha is another healthy practice to restore your balance. Ayurveda experts also use pre-detoxification techniques like massage with oils specific for your dosha (or snehana karma), sweat therapies (or swedana karma), yoga, internal detoxification (or panchakarma), herbal natural remedies, sound therapy (or manthra karma) and even rejuvenation therapies (or rasayana).
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Ayurveda is not only about therapy. It also teaches you how to contact your own awareness, how to bring it into balance, and how to extend that balance to the body. Ayurveda is a natural holistic approach for your body, mind and spirit.