Dear Yoga Friend,
What is Ayurveda?
I’d have to say it’s a game changing way of living your life! Ok, more specifically, it is yoga’s sister science and many years ago they were practiced together. Nowadays most of us start with yoga and maybe stumble upon Ayurveda (that was me) and realize it’s the bomb.
Ayurveda translates as “the science of life”. Broken down, ayur means life and veda means knowledge or wisdom. It’s how to align with nature, both your nature as an individual and the greater nature surrounding us. It’s the wisdom of life.
The building blocks of nature according to Ayurveda are the 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. These elements govern everything. Each of us as human beings are a combination of these 5 elements and we each have different proportions of them within the mind and body. They get categorized into three main doshas (constitutions): vata, pitta & kapha.
- Vata dosha is a combination of the elements air and space
- Pitta dosha is a combination of the elements fire and water (mostly fire)
- Kapha dosha is a combination of the elements earth and water
While each of us has some of all three doshas, often we are more of one or two than the other. These doshas are found within us but also all around us, in nature, in our food, in what we watch, where we live, you name it. They are the essence of nature.
With a little understanding of your constitution (doshic make up), you can understand how your body and your mind works. You can know yourself at a deeper level. With some key ayurvedic principles, you can customize life to fit YOU instead of you trying to fit someone else’s plan. Here is a great Dosha Quiz from my favorite Ayurvedic company, Banyan Botanicals. Take it to find out your dosha combination (prakruti) and your current imbalances (vikruti).
Two very important concepts in Ayurveda are:
- “Like attracts like”. This means similar things are attracted to similar things. Vata dosha is naturally attracted to anything air and space, which is what it already is.
- “Opposites create balance”. This means too much of a good thing is too much! Apply the opposite of something to balance it out. So, using vata dosha as an example, vata likes air and space but the opposite (earth and water) balance it out.
At the heart of Ayurveda is the aim of living a healthy, vibrant, balanced and harmonious life. When we understand our essential nature, we can adjust all of our lifestyle choices to fit our unique composition and thrive. Without this foundational understanding of nature and ourselves, we often struggle with things like routine, exercise, diet, sleep, work, stress, negative mind habits and relationships. We may seek the latest fad diet in an effort to feel good or struggle with what kinds of foods are best for us. We are most likely drawn to all of the things that throw us into imbalance (like attracts like) and not know why we feel so out of sorts.
There is no one size fits all, we are all different and unique. And what works at one time in the year doesn’t work at another time. We must continually “apply the opposites” in order to feel and be our best.
Using Ayurveda in your life is seriously a game changer. It’s like having the secret keys to the universe and to yourself.