By Angela Glaz
500 Hour E-RYT and Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor
Described as the Vedic Science of Life, Ayurveda is a five thousand year old healing tradition originating in India. It is the sister science to yoga or the medical side of yoga. Ayurveda studies the harmony between humans and the environment and uses yoga, diet, and herbal formulas to bring wellness to an individual’s entire well-being. Ayurveda treats the individual as a whole and assists in maintaining overall health.
Ayurveda recognizes each person as an individual with a different body constitution; also referred to as prakruti or dosha. The three doshas are: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We have all three in our physiology, just in different proportions. Everyone’s dosha is unique and personal; it is like a fingerprint.
Each dosha is made up of one or two of the five basic elements:
Vata (Air and Space)
Pitta (Fire and Water)
Kapha (Earth and Water)
By understanding one’s body constitution, they are able to find their own happiness and well-being.
Ayurveda holds the philosophy that like increases like. This means to create optimal health and happiness, we need to bring in the opposite qualities of whatever we are currently experiencing an influx of. For example, if we are cold, we should eat warm food. If we are hot, we should eat foods that are more cooling in nature.
Did you know that yoga actually stems from Ayurveda? Hence, this philosophy in regards to our yoga practice can make a huge difference in both our physical and mental health.
What a dosha balancing yoga practice looks like:
General: Practice should be slower paced, but strong. Should help bring focus to the mind, cultivate heat, stabilize, strengthen and increase flexibility and nourish the body.
Key Postures: Twists, hip openers, hip stabilizers, postures that both strengthen and help relieve tension in the low back.
General: Practice should be slower paced, passive, and cooling in nature. Should focus on increasing flexibility and finding ease physical and mental tension through breath.
Key Postures: Seated postures, supine postures, and forward folds.
General: Practice should be faster paced and dynamic, It should aim to stimulate, promote alertness, and cultivate heat through both movement and breath.
Key Postures: Standing postures, twists, heart openers, backbends, and inversions.
The life journey of each individual is a unique process, therefore the approach to Yoga and Ayurveda should be to understand ourselves, as a teacher or as a student, as continually growing and expanding. The ultimate intention of yoga is to decondition habitual patterns and balance the doshas. Tools of Ayurveda can be used to bring greater awareness and transformation leading to freedom from disease within the body and mind.