Ayurveda is an ancient healing science that originated in India thousands of years ago. This system uses the principles of nature, to help maintain health by keeping one’s body, mind and spirit in perfect balance with nature. The aim of Ayurveda is to prevent and heal illness, and to support overall wellness and longevity.
“As a science of self-healing, Ayurveda encompasses diet and nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, rest and relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises, and medicinal herbs, along with cleansing and rejuvenation programs for healing body, mind and spirit.” ~Vasant Lad The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies
Ayurveda is not a “one size fits all” approach. Each of us has a unique nature or constitution. We are also affected by the seasons and geographical settings. As we adjust our behavior and diet, we bring healing balance to ourselves.
Ayurveda is based on the premise that everything is made up of 5 Elements: Ether, Air, Fire, Earth, and Water. All five elements are found to some degree in each one of us. (more on the elements here)
- Ether means space. It is vast, like the sky and is cold, light and clear. It is the container that holds all others, allowing all things to take form. Space pervades eveything, even within each cell in our bodies.
- Air is the essence of movement. Like the wind it is dry, cold, rough and in motion.
- Fire is about transformation (and metabolism in the body). Like the sun it is hot, dry, sharp and changing.
- Earth like the ground is heavy, cold, stable and dry.
- Water has the fluid quality. Like the ocean, it is cold, moving, heavy, and liquid.
“These five elements clearly manifest individually in the natural world. But even more profoundly, they all exist at all times in all things–including in the body—and each has its particular role to play. For example, let’s look at the body’s digestive system:
- Earth rules the actual structure and solidity of the digestive tract.
- Water rules the liquid, fluid quality of the digestive juices and acids.
- Fire rules the heat and digestive enzymes involved in the metabolic process.
- Air rules the peristaltic movement of the nutrients through the digestive tract.
- Space pervades the whole process, including the space within each cell.
In fact, each and every cell of the body is made up of all five elements.” ~Dr. Premal Patel, MD Banyanbotanicals.com
The five elements blend in different ways to form three constitutions or energies known as Doshas:
• Vata is a combination of air and space.
• Pitta is a combination of fire and water.
• Kapha is a combination of earth and water.
What are your qualities, tendencies, and proclivities—physically, mentally, and emotionally? What is your Ayurvedic blueprint? You can take the quiz below to help determine your prakriti, and see more examples of features associated with vata, pitta, and kapha.