Ayurveda – It´s much more than Yoga and Meditation
Ayurvedic Medicine (“Ayurveda” for short) is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 5,000 years ago in India. It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Its main goal is to promote good health, instead on focusing in disease.
Ayurveda practicioners believe every person is made of five basic elements found in the universe: space, air, fire, water, and earth. These combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They control how your body works. They are Vata dosha (space and air); Pitta dosha (fire and water); and Kapha dosha (water and earth).
Everyone inherits a unique mix of the three doshas. But one is usually stronger than the others. Each one controls a different body function. It’s believed that our chances of getting sick — and the health issues we develop — are linked to the balance of doshas.
I found this video the other day that it explains it sooo well what the basic elements and doshas are:
Check Annie Tarasova channel on Youtube, very interesting tools for the healing journey.
If you want to know your dominant dosha (or doshas) you can fill in this questionnaire and receive a full breakdown on the diagnose by email.
Now, knowing a bit more about yourself and the basis of this ancient medicine, how does it really works?
From my experience, when getting to an initial consultation, plan to spend at least an hour with the practitioner (i spent 3 hours, believe it or not...); the examination is done as the practitioner talks to you and gets to know a bit more of your personal experiences, your own insight of your characteristics and life circumstances. It feels it´s like going to the psychotherapist in the beginning, but what is really happening is:
The practitioner is taking your pulse. Taking the pulse is a way to determine one’s constitution and current state of imbalance. The Ayurvedic practitioner feels for the strength of vata, pitta, and kapha in the pulse. They look for the overall qualities of the pulse as well: hot or cold, feeble, or bounding, stable or mobile, heavy or light. Vata is felt under the first finger, pitta in the middle finger, and kapha under the ring finger. A dry, light, cold pulse reveals the presence of vata; a hot, bounding, sharp pulse indicates pitta; a slow, soft, steady pulse is more kapha in nature.
It may be necessary to pee in a cup… (i did not do that, but hey…don`t you do that for lab tests???). The color can indicate if one is properly hydrated; the frequency can indicate if there’s enough fluid intake. Scanty urine can reveal the presence of vata; hot urine can show the presence of pitta; cloudy urine may indicate excess kapha.
Loo issues…again, i state the same as above ;); a little uncomfortable to discuss for most people, but it can reveal important information about digestive health. Daily elimination (or lack thereof) is a visible indication of digestive health. Ideally, we should eliminate every morning within one hour of waking. The bowel movement should have no pain or strain and be the consistency of a banana. Constipation indicates that vata is present, loose stools indicate pitta, and heavy, sludgy stools indicate kapha. To cleanse the digestive system, begin your day by sipping hot water with lemon. Simply fill your favorite mug with boiled water and squeeze in fresh lemon juice to taste.
Tongue. When examining the tongue, the practitioner looks at the color and shape, checking if there are scallops on the sides, coating or cracking. A large, round-tipped tongue indicates more kapha; redness suggests pitta; cracking and a thin, pointed-tip tongue is more prevalent in vata. Scalloped edges on the sides of the tongue (teeth impressions) indicate possible malabsorption or malnutrition. Coating indicates a presence of ama (Ama is the most common type of toxin, and is the waste product of incomplete digestion), or undigested food in the digestive system.
Advice: Try sticking out your tongue first thing in the morning and remove this coating present in your tongue every morning using a metal tongue scraper. Gently scrape from the back to the front of the tongue, three to five times. This removes digestive waste and stimulates the digestive system.
Body´s soundtrack. Gurgling in the stomach or cracking of the joints indicate the presence of vata, that can be eased by eating cooked foods and with gentle exercises. The quality, speed, and tone of your voice also give information about your constitution. If you speak quickly and tend to lose your train of thought, there may be excess vata present. Those with more pitta in their constitution speak sharply and clearly. Kapha types take their time expressing their thoughts while speaking slowly.
Eyes. The doshas affect both the shape and color of the eyes. Small, dry eyes indicate vata; medium, piercing, intense eyes are present with pitta; big, watery eyes are kapha eyes. If there is redness or yellowness in the whites of the eyes, pitta is present. Soothing the eyes daily by splashing cool water on them or leave a few cucumber slices for a couple of minutes for it´s cooling effect. .
Nails. The nails also indicate the presence of vata, pitta, or kapha: Long vertical lines can indicate malabsorption; soft, flexible nails indicate pitta; brittle nails that break easily are more vata; and kapha nails are thick, oily, and strong. Dry skin is a feature of vata; oily skin prone to acne and rashes is a sign of pitta imbalance; and kapha skin is thick, soft, and smooth.
General appearance. Your body shape, the color and texture of your hair, your energy level, and even your gait can indicate the predominance of vata, pitta, or kapha. A vata body is one with thin, small bones, well built and without much curve or musculature. Pitta types are usually medium-framed with a moderate amount of musculature. Kapha types are fuller and bigger-boned with more curves. Vata hair is typically average in amount, dry, and light brown or blonde. Pitta types often have thinner hair, reddish or auburn, and may bald or go gray early in life. Kapha hair is generally thick, curly or wavy, dark brown, and oily. Vata types have a sporadic amount of energy—bouncing around in one moment and exhausted in the next. Pitta types have a strong energy, but tend to burn themselves out by overscheduling. Kapha types are slow and steady; they have the stamina to go the long haul, but they don’t move terribly fast in the process.
After evaluating all aspects the practitioner can make clear suggestions about which Ayurvedic tools you can adopt to maintain a life of balance. These may include daily self-care routines, food choices, yoga and pranayama techniques, meditation and movement practices, massages (such as Udwartana, Shirodhara, and others) and herbs (like adaptogenics Ashwaghanda and Triphala).
The true aim of Ayurveda is to clear out the clutter in the mind and body to access our potential for health and thriving. So why not incorporate this knowledge into our daily lives?! After all, aren´t we all looking to prevent disease and ´live healthier, and longer?