What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, (pronounced Aa-yer-vay-da), is a Sanskrit word that means “the science of life”. It is a 5000 year old system of holistic medicine that originated in India. Ayurveda emphasizes living in harmony with nature, prevention, self- healthcare and body-mind-spirit integration. In fact, it is believed to be the oldest healing science in existence.
Ayurveda’s Five Element Theory
According to Ayurveda, the universe is made up of five elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Ether). Ayurveda believes that our bodies are microcosms of the universe with all of the elements represented in different forms. The Air element is our respiration. Fire represents digestion-the transformation of food into nutrients. Water represents the rivers of blood and lymph that flow through our body. Earth represents our tissues and solid structures, and Ether is the space in which all of these functions occur.
Air is a gaseous matter, and represents movement, it is existence without form
Attributes: cold, dry, mobile, subtle, clear and sharp
Within the body: it is used for oxygenation and is the basis for all energy transfer reactions
Fire represents transformation – the power to change solids to liquids to gases and back
Attributes: hot, dry, light, sharp and rough
Within the body: fire works as our digestion, hormonal changes, and creates impulses of nervous reactions
Water represents change, cycling through evaporation, condensation and precipitation
Attributes: cold, wet, soft, smooth, heavy and liquid
Within the body: water represents our blood, lymph and other fluids between cells. It is used to carry away waste, transport energy and disease fighters as well as regulate temperature
Earth represents a solid state of matter as well as all solids within the body
Attributes: are cold, heavy, dull and hard
Within the Body: bones, cells and tissues and creates structures for the transportation of blood and oxygen
Ether is the space in between
Attributes: cold, light, subtle, mobile, liquid and soft
Within the body: ether is the space between atoms, cells, etc.
The Tri-Dosha Theory
In order to better understand the elements and how they function within us, Ayurveda developed a theory that combines 2 elements to create 3 different doshas. Your Ayurvedic Body Type is referred to as your Dosha. Dosha means that which changes. While your true, birth body type doesn’t change, lifestyle, diet, climate, etc. can and will cause imbalance, resulting in compromised immunity and health.
Health is a state of dynamic balance. The Tri-Dosha Theory is Ayurveda’s way of understanding the body types and our continuous drive towards balance or homeostasis.
Dosha means that which changes.
Air + Ether
Represents energy, movement, thought and perception of senses
Fire + Water
Water + Earth
Represents the structure and stability
The Air element keeps the body fresh and cool and Ether creates space in the body between cells
Energy that controls bodily functions associated with involuntary motions, respiration, blinking, and your heartbeat.
Fire creates warmth, Water moves digestive juices and aids in digestion and assimilation
Energy that controls the metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and regulating body temperature
Water provides coolness and dynamic force of our body tissues, Earth represents the mucous membranes and lubrication of joints
Energy that controls growth in the body, it supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin and maintains the immune system
The Season’s According to Ayurveda
- The influence of Air/Ether make Fall/Winter a Vata Season
- The influence of Earth/Water make Winter/Spring a Kapha Season
- The influence of Fire/Water makes Summer a Pitta Season.
Living in harmony with nature means living in accordance to seasonal and cyclical changes
of our lives.
Ayruvedic Body Types
Each person has all three Doshas, but usually one or two dominate. Various Dosha proportions determine one’s physiological and personality traits, as well as general likes and dislikes. For example Vata types will prefer hot weather to cold and Kapha types are more likely to crave spicy foods than other types.
Tall and slender, fast moving minds and bodies. Excitable, lively and fun personalities, subject to mood swings. Irregular daily routine with bursts of energy, have tendency to tire easily and to overexert. Tendency toward cold hands and feet, discomfort in cold climates. Generally have dry skin and hair, don’t perspire much. Often have racing, disjointed thoughts and act on impulse. Can suffer from constipation, bloating, flatulence, joint pain and dry skin.
When in balance
Vibrant, lively, enthusiastic, clear and alert mind, flexible, exhilarated, imaginative, sensitive, talkative, quick to respond
When out of balance
Restless, unsettled, light interrupted sleep tendency to over-exert, fatigued, constipated, anxious, worried, underweight
What aggravates Vata
irregular routine, staying up late, irregular meals, cold, dry weather, excessive mental work, too much bitter, astringent or pungent food, traveling, injury
Medium physique, strong and well-built with focused mind and good concentration powers. Assertive, self-confident, competitive and passionate, they are romantics. Strong digestion and appetite. Uncomfortable in sun or hot weather, tire and perspire excessively. Skin fair or reddish which sunburns easily. Subject to temper tantrums, impatience, and anger. Can suffer from acid reflux, ulcers, and diseases originating from inflammation.
When in balance
Warm, loving, assertive, self-confident, and entrepreneurial at their best; Strong digestion, lustrous complexion, good concentration, articulate and precise speech, bold and sharp witted
When out of balance
Demanding, perfectionist, tendency towards frustration, anger and impatience; Tendency towards skin rashes, prematurely grey hair or early hair loss, digestive issues and insomnia
What aggravates Pitta
excessive heat or exposure to the sun, alcohol, smoking, time pressure, deadlines, excessive activity, too much spicy, sour or salty food, skipping meals
Physically strong, with a sturdy, heavier build. Slow speech, reflecting a deliberate thought process; slower to learn, but outstanding long-term memory. Easygoing, affectionate and nonjudgmental nature. Have the most stable energy of all constitutions. Don’t like cold, damp weather. Soft hair and skin. Generally have excellent health and good immune systems, but can be overweight, suffer from depression, and have respiratory and sinus problems.
When in balance
Affectionate, compassionate, forgiving emotionally steady, relaxed, slow, methodical, good memory, good stamina, stability, natural resistance to sickness
When out of balance
Complacent, dull, oily skin, allergies slow digestion, lethargic, possessive, over attached, tendency to oversleep, overweight
What aggravates Kapha
excessive rest and oversleeping, overeating, insufficient exercise, too little variety in life, heavy, unctuous foods, too much sweet, sour or salty food, cold, wet weather
Balancing The Body Types
Within the vast realm of Ayurveda there are a myriad of foods, herbs, oils, spices, supplements, therapies, daily routines, breathing exercises, yoga and much more that have been practiced for centuries to help bring people back into their natural state of balance. Sattva Holistic Health focuses on therapeutic treatments, herbal teas, body oils and spice blends to support clients in achieving health and wellness.
Nature has provided us with its own pharmacy by offering us therapeutic herbs to provide subtle nutrition and to support the prevention or treatment of dis-ease. In Ayurveda, herbs are used to help restore balance to the body. Warming herbs comfort Vata’s cold tendencies. Cooling herbs calm Pitta’s fire. Stimulating herbs invigorate Kapha’s lethargy.
The same is true for essential oils. Essential oils are the volatile components of plants, trees and flowers. They are concentrated and highly therapeutic. Ayurveda uses a variety of essential oils for their medicinal benefits and infuses them in very nourishing carrier oils that are absorbed through the body’s largest organ, the skin.
Spices have been used since Ancient times for food flavoring & preservation. Spices strengthen and regulate the appetite, improve digestion, prevent aging and are useful in balancing dis-ease. Spice blends, also known as Churnas, are powerful blends of culinary herbs & spices to enhance flood flavor and aid digestion. Spice blends can be designed for specific seasons, tastes, foods and body types.
Body is light, dry, mobile & cold – it’s balanced by the oils which are wet, heavy, calming & warming essential oils.
Requires warming and moisturizing herbs and nutritive tonics, that dispel excess gas and stimulate digestion.
Requires warm spices that increase digestive fire like cinnamon, clove, cumin, fennel & ginger.
Body is hot and wet – it’s balanced by cooling, heat dispelling, drying and calming essential oils.
Require cooling herbs that dispel excess heat, blood detoxifiers, astringent herbs to soak up excess oil and sweat.
Require cooling spices that calm the body like coriander, dill, peppermint & turmeric.
Body is cold, moist, slow and heavy – it’s balanced with warming, drying, lightening and stimulating essential oils.
Require invigorating herbs that promote digestion, expel excess mucous, increase metabolism and stimulate circulation.
Require warming and stimulating spices that reduce fluid retention and aid digestion like black pepper, ginger, nutmeg & rosemary.
Health Through Ayurveda
Sattva Holistic Health’s goal is to offer the beauty of Ayurveda to the modern, Western world in easily digestible, bite size pieces. The goal is not to intimidate clients and customers with the notion of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a vast and all-encompassing holistic system of healthcare that has been in existence for over 5000 years. You could devote a lifetime to its study and still be in a state of discovery. Sattva brings this Ancient Wisdom to you in a simple way that can easily be applied to your modern daily life.