Ayurveda – The science of longevity
The Sanskrit term “Ayurveda” means “the science of life”. More than 5000 years old, it is the oldest and most comprehensive medical system in the world. The focus is the prevention of diseases, cultivating awareness of undigested or poorly digested food toxins in the body, balancing the body’s physiology, improving the immune system and calming the mind.
What is Prakriti:
Ayurveda teaches that we are all born with a particular constitution which determines both our physical and mental propensities. This constitution is looked at in terms of a predominance of the five elements in the body. Our prakriti can be any one of seven possible combinations, but within these, infinite expressions of the elements exist within the body – Prakriti is just a guide.
A Vata person has a strong predominance of the elements Air and Ether in the body. The predominant qualities are cold, dry, light, rough, subtle, mobile and clear. Physically vata people are ethereal, irregular, creative and move quickly. When these elements are unbalanced in the body, the body tends towards poor circulation, pain, cracking in the joints, insomnia, an agitated mind, constipation and irregular digestion with gas formation.
A Pitta person has a strong predominance of the elements Fire and Water. The predominant qualities are hot, sharp, liquid, mobile and oily. Pitta people have a sharp intelligence, good memory, highly organized and very intense. They are motivated, ambitious, passionate and courageous. When they are unbalanced they can suffer from anger, irritability, being overly judgmental, a perfectionist and arrogant. Pitta diseases are related to inflammation, burning in the eyes, acidity, loose bowl movements, skin eruptions and heart attacks.
A Kapha person has a strong predominance of the elements Earth and Water. The predominant qualities of Kapha are heavy, static or immobile, slow, dull, cold, oily, liquid, smooth, dense, soft, sticky, stable. Physically, Kapha people can be described as solid, stable, attractive, grounded, warm, loving, caring and incredibly patient. When they are in balance, they can maintain a moderate weight but they are the constitution most inclined to gain weight. The appetite is moderate and stable, the digestion is slow but reasonable, and elimination tends to be regular. They generally sleep easily and they like to conserve energy. Mentally Kapha people grasp concepts slowly but remember them forever, they tend to be calm, stable, loving, compassionate and nurturing when in balance. When Kapha energy is out of balance, it brings symptoms like possessiveness, rigidity, coldness, depression, laziness, attachment and emotional eating.
What is Vikriti:
The constitutions we are born with can be considered in both a balanced (Prakriti) and imbalanced state (Vikriti). We can experience imbalanced states that deviate from our “first creation” when we expose ourselves to an excess of certain qualities in our lives.
Causes of Vata imbalances include: eating excessively, cold, dry, rough, raw, bitter, astringent or pungent food; irregular schedules or meal times; excessive travelling; constant multitasking and rushing around; high stress, or high anxiety jobs or situations; lack of sound sleep; excessive cold or dry environments; traumatic events, extreme grief, change or shock; taking drugs; excessive visual and electronic stimulation and movement or regular suppression of any of the 13 natural urges (urination, defecation, ejaculation, yawning, sneezing, vomiting, hunger, thirst, breathing, crying, sleep, passing gas and burping.
Causes of Pitta imbalance include: eating excessively, heating, fried, stimulation, pungent, sour or salty foods and drinks (fermented foods, alcohol, coffee, acidic foods), exposure to excessively hot or humid environments, regular sunburn; not eating when hungry; living with highly irritating situations; excessively overheating exercise; excessively hot showers; exposure to anger, violence, conflict and competitive situations.
Causes of Kapha imbalances include: eating excessively heavy, cold, fatty, fried, sweet, salty or sour foods and drinks (including alcohol); too much sleeping (especially day sleep); lack of movement or exercise; exposure to excessive cold, dark, heavy environments, and working in super-cold conditions. Laziness and excessive indulgence will increase Kapha imbalances.