Ayurveda, translated as knowledge of life, is a 5,000 year old preventive medicine and health care system from India. Through Ayurveda, we can understand our emotions, feelings, moods, body shapes, and cravings more fully and start to live healthier and more satisfying lives. According to Ayurveda, the mind exerts the deepest influence on the body, and freedom from sickness depends upon contacting our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body. (Deepak Chopra, Perfect Health)
In the Ayurvedic system everything on this planet, including our bodies, consists of five elements: fire, water, earth, air, and space. Ayurveda believes that every individual is a unique combination of these five elements. Every individual is a manifestation of cosmic consciousness. Disease develops when we disconnect from nature, when we forget where we come from and who we truly are.
Ayurveda groups the five elements into three basic energies or doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These are sometimes translated as things which can go out of whack. Vata dosha consists of air and space elements, Pitta dosha of fire and water and Kapha of earth and water. Most of us are a combination of two of these doshas, for example Pitta/Vata. Our body and mind are a reflection of the predominant doshas.
VATA (air & space)
People with a Vata constitution tend to be slim, fast, changeable, dry, flexible, artistic, moody, and reflect the qualities of air and space elements. Their skin is thin and dry and they often feel cold. When out of balance, their moods change like the wind, they are unstable, experience lack of energy, feel exhausted, can experience lower back pain, join pain or headaches. Gas, bloating, and constipation are also often present.
PITTA (fire & water)
Pitta people are usually of a medium build and mostly represent the fire qualities. They have very sharp minds and intellect. They can be incredible leaders, scientists, lawyers, and teachers. They often feel warm and prefer cool weather. They have a very strong digestive fire and seem to be always hungry. When out of balance, they tend toward extra heat in the body, which might show as anger, excessive sweating, red rashes, eczemas, blisters, hyperacidity, or burning pain anywhere in the body.
KAPHA (earth & water)
Kapha individuals have bigger builds and bones. They are strong and solid physically and emotionally, and reflect the qualities of earth and water. It takes a lot of effort to get Kaphas upset. They tend to move slowly but steady and are very reliable. When out of balance, they tend towards excess weight (too much earth), congestion, dampness and lethargy.
THE GOAL OF AYURVEDA
Each of us has a unique combination of these doshas and that determines our constitution (Prakruti). Throughout our lives because of our environment, the way we think, deal with stress, what and how we eat, relax or not relax, exercise too much or too little, etc, we get further and further away from our constitution, from who we truly are.
The goal of Ayurveda is to bring us back to who we truly are and restore balance in our bodies and minds. Through lifestyle adjustments, diet, herbs, meditation, yoga, and sense therapies, Ayurveda brings us back to our true nature where we experience the state of optimal health, balance, and happiness.