What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a well-being system that originated more than 4,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest systems of healing. Originating in India, it is based on a philosophy of health and happiness that aims to treat the whole person, not just one set of symptoms. Ayurveda still makes sense today as it has values that are highly relevant to the current medical issues in the world such as stress, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Ayurveda is a gentle and balancing philosophy that combines nutrition, herbal remedies, yoga and massage to heal and nourish both the body and spirit. Its roots are intertwined with those of yoga and meditation which play a key role in ayurvedic treatment and lifestyle.

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Ayurveda is a sanskrit word meaning the knowledge or science of life and really is a huge tried and tested body of information to enable us to live a healthy and fulfilled life. Ayurveda treats people as individuals. Have you ever wondered why some people are hyperactive and fast moving whilst others exude grace and stillness?  Why some people can eat any food they like and not put on weight?  Why some people are always happy and optimistic whilst others are anxious and depressed? Modern genetics offers some insights but what about the characteristics that make every person unique?  Ayurveda answers all these questions with the Three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha.  The doshas are biological energies or metabolisms found throughout the human body and mind that govern all physical and mental processes and provide every individual with a blueprint for health and fulfilment. The doshas derive from the Five Elements and their related properties. Vata is composed of Space and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water and Kapha of Earth and Water.

Everyone of us has a unique combination of doshas which is determined at the moment of conception based on our parents’ doshas at that time. This is termed our Prakruti and the key to a healthy vibrant life is to maintain that specific balance of doshas. This sounds simple but the doshas are dynamic energies constantly changing in response to our thoughts, actions, environment, emotions, food, the seasons and any other sensory inputs that feed our mind and body. When we live against our intrinsic natures such as working long hours, not getting enough sleep or eating insufficient fresh fruit and vegetables we support unhealthy patterns that lead to physical and mental imbalances.

Characteristics of the three doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha:

VATA: When the Vata individual is in a balanced state, they experience excellent health, stability, creativity and freedom. Full of imagination, vata individuals tend to possess an alert, excited and impulsive disposition. Vatas enjoy exercise, adventure, travel and continual stimulation. They favor professions involving travel, change and flexibility. They tend to make money quickly but spend it quickly. The vata type is naturally light and delicate with dry eyes and skin. With irregular appetites and thirst, vatas often experience digestive and absorption problems.

When out of balance, Vata types may experience issues such as constipation, flatulence, dry skin, insomnia, arthritis or sciatica. When out of balance emotionally, the light quality of vata provokes fear, anxiety, loneliness and insecurity. Special care must be taken in order for them to remain grounded, warm and confident. In general, to balance vata, we learn to apply its opposite qualities to any given imbalance. For example, if a vata person is experiencing increased dry quality in their body, we will encourage them to utilize moistening, warming and nourishing foods, remedies and practices.

PITTA: Pitta individuals tend to possess a strong-willed, passionate and fiery disposition. They are the natural leaders in society, being ambitious, organised, intelligent and disciplined. The pitta body type is naturally athletic and one of medium height, weight and musculature. Their skin is often freckled, sensitive, oily and warm. Their hair may be straight, silky and oily and their eyes are often sensitive to light. Pittas have intense appetites and thirst. When out of balance emotionally, the sharp quality of pitta arouses aggression, irritability, anger, hatred, judgement, criticism, and jealousy. Special care must be taken in order for them to remain cool, calm and peaceful. 

KAPHA:The Kapha individual is the epitome of grace, calm and sensuality. A kapha type has a solid, sturdy body with large bones. Kapha individuals are known for being well grounded and connected to the physical world and move with a slow and luxuriant progression forward in life. In balance Kapha is expressed as love, calmness, forgiveness, strength, vigor and stability.

However, when out of balance, their waters can become muddied by excessive and unconscious intake of foods, visuals, sounds, all of the sensual pleasures, which make them lethargic and can lead to deeper issues of depression, melancholia, and excess body weight. Kapha imbalance can also cause congestion, fatigue, poor circulation, unexpressed emotions, grief, sadness and attachment.

At The Clover Mill, you will have a dosha assessment before each treatment to ensure the treatments and oils chosen are the best for you.

If you are interested in studying ayurveda, The Clover Mill is hosting a diploma course in 2014.