Essence of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is the traditional healing modality from India meaning in Sanscrit “the science of life” (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). This “science of life” is said to be 5000 years old, dating back to the ancient Sanscrit texts, the Vedas. It has often been called as the “Mother of All Healing” and has given the foundation to the principles of many of the natural healing systems known today in the West (for instance Homeopathy).
Ayurveda explains the uniqueness of each individual through doshas – the biological energies governing the physical and mental processes of a human body and mind. The doshas provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health and fulfillment, and are derived from the Five Elements and their related properties. Vata is composed of Space and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water, and Kapha of Earth and Water.
The 3 doshas
Vata types are composed of air and space, vata is dry, light, cold, rough, subtle/pervasive, mobile, and clear. Vata people tend to be thin and lanky. When vata people are balanced, they are flexible, have lively imaginations, and are original thinkers. When imbalanced they can get anxious, ungrounded, and can seem “flaky” about fulfilling commitments, sticking to a routine, and completing projects. As such, vata regulates the principle of movement. Any bodily motion—chewing, swallowing, nerve impulses, breathing, muscle movements, thinking, peristalsis, bowel movements, urination, menstruation—requires balanced vata.
Pitta brings forth the qualities of fire and water. It is sharp, penetrating, hot, light, liquid, mobile, and oily. Pitta people are innately strong, intense, and irritable. Pitta people tend to have a medium built body with powerful musculature. They are strong willed natural leaders and quick learners and good at mastering new skills. Pitta’s domain is the principal of transformation. Just as fire transforms anything it touches, pitta is in play any time the body converts or processes something. So pitta oversees digestion, metabolism, temperature maintenance, sensory perception, and comprehension. Imbalanced pitta can lead to sharpness and inflammation in these areas particularily.
Kapha, composed of earth and water, is heavy, cold, dull, oily, smooth, dense, soft, static, liquid, cloudy, hard, and gross (in the sense of dense or thick). The influence of the earth and water elements makes kapha people stable, compassionate, and loyal. They appreciate doing things in a methodical, step-by-step manner, and prefer a regular routine in their personal and professional lives. Kapha metabolism tends to be slow and their appetite for both food and stimulation is less intense than vata or pitta types. As kapha governs stability and structure, it forms the substance of the human body, from the skeleton to various organs to the fatty molecules (lipids) that support the body. An excess of kapha leads to an overabundance of density, heaviness, and excess in the body.
Most of the people actually are bi-doshic, meaning that they have dual constitutions (vata-pitta, pitta-kapha, and vata-kapha). These people are in a sense, “split.” Under certain conditions, one dosha will predominate and under other circumstances the other dosha will. People having equal amounts of each doshic influence are called tri-doshic. When tri-doshic people are in balance, they are very strong, stable, and adaptable. But when out of balance, they can have really poor health.
Life gives us a number of challenges as well as opportunities. Much we have no control over but we do have the power to decide about a few things. Our health and well-being through our diet and lifestyle are some of the few being entirely in our own hands.
We can do a lot for the health and well-being of ourselves by just following simple daily routines brought out in the table above and dietary tips.
In ayurvedic diet the science of food combination is essential. Some foods simply digest well together and give positive impact on our overall health, while other food combinations should absolutely be avoided. According to the ayurvedic perspective namely each food has a particular combination of energies, affecting the body in a certain way. If foods of very different energies are combined, the digestive system is “caught in fire” which results in gas, bloating, indigestion etc., having a chain effect on our overall health. Not suitable food combinations produce toxines, called ama, which are often the roots to different imbalances and diseases.
To get a specific diet suitable for your constitution and taking in consideration your present imbalances we recommend you to consult with a local ayurvedic doctor, but below you can find a table of foods that generally should not be combined together.