WTF is Ayurveda?

When it comes to health, it seems like people are talking about something new every day. From celery juice, to mushroom elixirs, to a ketogenic diet, it’s clear that we, as a society, care about doing better for ourselves. If you’ve been looking into said healthier lifestyle, you may have come across the word Ayurveda and found yourself thinking, ‘WTF?’

For starters, let’s clear up some looming questions. Is it a practice? Kind of. But think of it more as a lifestyle. It is a medicine? Yes, but not the kind that comes with a prescription and laundry list of contraindications. Is it the latest wellness trend? HECK. NO. It's been around for at least 5,000 years.

Photo courtesy of Fares Nimri

Photo courtesy of Fares Nimri

Long before modern medicine came Ayurveda, a natural system for healing, and preventing illness. With historical roots in India and Hindu medicine, Ayurveda is a Vedic (Sanskrit for life) science, often known as the sister science to yoga. This natural medicinal practice uses food, plants, and routine to help you remain vibrant and healthy. Ayurvedic theory suggests that we are all a reflection of nature, and uses three constituents, or doshas (more on those later), to guide you on your own unique path to optimal wellness.

High-level, here’s what you should know: according to Ayurveda, the mind and body connection is the real deal. Beyond that, Ayurvedic practitioners believe that the mind’s ability to heal the body is unparalleled. While modern medicine focuses on curing an illness, Ayurveda is about prevention. It all starts with mental and physical balance and clarity- hello, sister science to yoga, remember?

So, what does that look like?

A restful night’s sleep, regular meditation, staying active, and a balanced diet are pretty standard protocols for any healthy lifestyle and Ayurveda is no exception. But how does it differ from modern medicine? Ayurveda recognizes that everyone is unique so there’s no diet or regimen that’ll make sense for everybody. The best foods and routine practices (like skincare and digestion) for your mind-body will vary based on your dosha.

Photo courtesy of Nikhita Singhal

Photo courtesy of Nikhita Singhal

WTF is a dosha?

We’re all comprised of 3 unique energies or mind-body types, known in Ayurveda as doshas- Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Discovering and understanding your dominant dosha is akin to discovering a roadmap to your personal health. Each mind-body type is related to personality, physiology, skin type, digestion, and much more. And while we all naturally have characteristics of all three within us, understanding your primary dosha is key to determining what habits, routines, and foods are best suited for you. It helps you to better understand your dominant mental, physical, and emotional characteristics.


A few key characteristics of each dosha

Vata—

Mentally, Vatas tend to be enthusiastic, creative, quick to learn, but also often quick to forget. Vatas are lively and often on the go.

Physically, Vatas tend to have a more slight frame that allows for greater agility. Skin and hair might be on the drier side.

Although Vatas tend to have a cooler body temperature, they thrive in warmer climates.

Some signs of a Vata imbalance include digestive challenges, anxiety, and insomnia.

Pitta—

Mentally, Pittas have a fiery nature with a strong will to concentrate, compete, and welcome challenge.

Physically, Pittas might have a more medium and strong build.

Although Pittas tend to have a warmer body temperature, they thrive in cooler climates.

Some signs of a Pitta imbalance include skin rashes/breakouts, a short-temper, and impatience.

Kapha—

Mentally, Kaphas tend to be easy-going, calming, and thoughtful. Although they arguably have the most energy of all the doshas, it is often the most steady and enduring.

Physically, Kaphas might have a strong, sturdy, and sometimes heavier build. They likely have thicker hair and soft skin.

Although Kaphas tend to have cold and oily qualities, they thrive in warm, dry climates.

Some signs of a kapha imbalance include weight gain, sluggishness, and stubbornness.

Photo courtesy of Loren Joseph

Photo courtesy of Loren Joseph

Your primary mental dosha and physical dosha won’t necessarily be the same. And while an imbalance in your dominant dosha might be the most noticeable, you can and will at some point likely experience imbalances in all 3 areas. For example, you may be primarily Pitta and still go through seasons of Vata imbalance with increased nervousness, anxiety, depression, or fear. Understanding these imbalances is the first step to realignment.

Ayurveda can seem incredibly complex but it’s fascinating how intuitive it can be once you understand the basics.

Interested in discovering your primary mind-body type? Take a free quiz here!

Once you determine your primary mind-body type, you can begin to discover what foods and routine practices lend to your optimally balanced lifestyle.

Want to learn more about best practices based on your dosha or the science of Ayurveda in general? Let us know in the comments and we’ll gladly dive deeper in the future!

 
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