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Ayurveda 101

Ayurveda is one of the key pillars of the Tula Movement, along with Yoga and Mediterranean diet. Ayurveda’s holistic approach to health has helped me to understand myself in a better way, as well as to heal all of my ailments. Curious to know more about this science? Keep reading!

What does Ayurveda mean?

Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old Indian medical science. It comes from the Sanskrit word Ayur- which means life, and Veda-, that means knowledge or wisdom.

However, I prefer to stick to the latter meaning since, as they taught me in India, “knowledge is information that comes come from the outer world, it’s an illusion. Whereas wisdom comes from within”.

Thus, I like to define Ayurveda as the “wisdom of life”, something that all of us have inside ourselves and which we can intuitively tap into.

A Holistic Approach to Health

The purpose of Ayurveda is to heal the body so we can experience liberation (or Samadhi, which is the final goal of yoga too). In order to do so, it relies on the balance between mind, body and spirit, teaching us to live according to our unique needs and in tune with nature’s rhythms.

It offers a holistic approach to health, seeing the person as a whole, rather than a compound of different and isolated parts. For Ayurveda, an imbalance in the body is an expression of an imbalance in the mind.

For example, if you are overweight (physical imbalance) perhaps you should think about which emotions are you keeping for yourself, or why are you so attached to some people, feelings or material things.

The fact of not expressing your emotions and refusing to let them go manifests in the body as an excess of weight. Because as well as you keep all the hard feelings, jealousy or fear, your body keeps the weight.

That is the reason why Ayurveda uses a broad spectrum of techniques to bring us back to balance, such as food, exercise, sleep, emotions, career and even relationships, since everything is interrelated.

The Ayurvedic Doshas

As I mentioned before, Ayurveda works closely with nature and the Earth. That’s why it states that the five elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth) form the whole world, both the things that we can see and the ones we can’t.

According to that, these elements are also inside ourselves, creating our unique physical and mental traits. The combination of these elements is what creates the doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Vata is comprised of ether (space) and air. Pitta is comprised of fire and water, while Kapha is formed by earth and water.

We are all born with these three doshas since each of them takes care of a specific function inside our bodies. They are all interrelated, and an imbalance in one of them affects all the others.

However, not all of us have the same amount of each dosha. First of all, we have what is called our permanent dosha (Prakriti). This is our nature, the kind of energy we’ve born with, and that can’t change.

Secondly, we have the sub-doshas (Vikruti). These are the doshas that come in major proportion after the main dosha (for example, I am a Vata-Pitta). This second dosha can change over time, due to lifestyle, food habits, work, or place of living.

For instance, if I move to a country where the weather is very hot, I might be experiencing a Pitta imbalance. I could even look and feel like a Pitta, but my true nature would always remain Vata.

Lately, if all doshas are found in the same amount within you, that means that you are tridoshic. However, achieving this balance it is very rare.

You can find out the percentage of each dosha that you have by taking my short Ayurveda quiz.

Ayurveda is a living science -it adapts to the place, time, and needs of the individuals” - Sahara Rose

Ayurveda and Western Medicine

Ayurveda and Western medicine are not incompatible. In fact, they can (and should) work together, since one complements the other. Ayurvedic medicine is preventive, meaning that it works to achieve wellness and avoid illnesses before they appear.

It assesses the cause of the disease, rather than just treating the symptoms without wondering which is the underlying issue. This holistic health approach is key to prevent an ailment from reappearing.

Western medicine, on the contrary, is symptomatic. It focuses on treating the manifestations of the illness, but it doesn’t dig any deeper into the reasons why it appeared. However, it is extremely helpful when treating physical injuries or severe health conditions.

Traditional Western medicine doesn’t make any correlation between a physical symptom, and other aspects of the being. The impact that emotions, habits, or thoughts have on our bodies is something key in Ayurveda, so that’s why we should combine both methods.

Using Ayurveda in our daily lives to maintain health and prevent illnesses, and Western medicine in case we need to treat a serious symptom that has already appeared.

To sum up

Ayurveda is not a diet, a religion, or a set of rules to obey. Quoting Sahara Rose, Ayurvedic Nutritionist, and best-selling author, “Ayurveda is a living science -it adapts to the place, time, and needs of the individuals”.

There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach since your dosha, your current imbalances, your lifestyle, and even the place where you live will determine the foods you should consume and the healthy habits that you should embrace.

That’s why it is key to understand and address your unique needs to achieve balance, so you can thrive and become the best version of yourself.

Do you want to know your dosha? Take my short Ayurveda quiz!

And if you would like to know which are the best practices to balance your dosha, check out my post "Tips for Balancing Your Ayurvedic Dosha".