- Hannah Aylward
An Intro to Ayurveda
An Intro to Ayurveda
by Hannah Aylward
As yogis, we have heard a few Sanksrit terms, like namaste, chaturanga, and savasana. You may be familiar with the sacred texts of the Vedas, or “Books of Wisdom”, which are the ancient Sanskrit texts which yoga is based on. Enter: Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga, first recorded in the same Sanskrit texts. Ayurveda actually predates yoga, passed on orally for the past 5,000 years, before any system of health or book existed. It focuses on all areas of health, including diet, lifestyle, exercise, digestion, detoxification, sleep, and the mind. Pronounced “i-yer-vay-da”, it literally means “the science of life” (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge).
Ayurveda professes that health is a continuous process that embraces all aspects of life: physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, spiritual, familial, social, and universal. Vibrant health is represented by achieving balance on all levels of being, not just eating well or exercising often. And there is no “one-size-fits-all.” There is however an emphasis on supporting our true individual natures and recognizing the power of the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
Ayurveda says that each individual is comprised of the five fundamental elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. These elements combine uniquely in each of us, creating a blueprint known as our Dosha. The doshas govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health and fulfillment. While one dosha can dominate in most individuals, we are all typically a strong combination of two.
These are the three main Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
VATTA - SPACE / AIR - FORCE OF MOBILITY
Controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and heartbeat.
Characteristics of a vata dosha:
- Creative, excitable, lively, fun, and dreamy
- Quick to learn and grasp new knowledge, but also quick to forget
- Slender and tall, with a tendency toward cold hands and feet
- Changeable moods
- Irregular daily routine
- Responds to stress with fear, worry, and anxiety, especially when out of balance
- Tendency to act on impulse
- Often have racing, disjointed thoughts
- Generally have thin, dry skin and dry hair
PITTA - FIRE / WATER - FORCE OF TRANSFORMATION
Controls the body's metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and body temperature.
Characteristics of a pitta dosha:
- Fiery, passionate, and determined
- Sharp, orderly, and focused
- Medium physique, strong, well-built
- Assertive, self-confident, and entrepreneurial
- Aggressive, irritated, and angry when out of balance
- Strong digestion and strong appetite
- Fair or reddish skinned, often with freckles
- Uncomfortable in hot weather
- Physical problems include rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, heartburn, insomnia, and/or burning eyes
KAPHA - WATER / EARTH - FORCE OF COHESION
Controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system.
Characteristics of a kapha dosha:
- Calm, relaxed, affectionate, and loving
- Forgiving, compassionate, nonjudgmental
- Stable, reliable, faithful, and loyal
- Physically strong and with a sturdy, heavier build
- Slower to learn, but outstanding long-term memory
- Smooth hair and skin
- Prone to depression
- Excellent health, good immune system
- Don't like cold, damp weather
- Physical problems include colds and congestion, sinus headaches, and respiratory problems
THE THREE DOSHIC STATES
- Balanced: All three doshas are present in their natural proportions.
- Aggravated: A particular dosha is present in a greater-than-normal proportion; also referred to as an “excess” state.
- Depleted: A particular dosha is present in a less-than-normal proportion; also referred to as a “reduced” state.
Doshic imbalances can arise from any number of influences, including an aggravating diet, unaligned exercise, poor stress management, etc.
Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences, so it is only natural that we are educated on them both. The ancient healing science of Ayurveda encompasses much more than discussed above —connecting mind, body, soul, and spirit. This is just the beginning.
*We recommend that you do not rely solely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product. You should consult your health care professional before making any changes to your regular health care routine.
Hannah Aylward is a Certified Health Coach, nutrition consultant, fitness instructor, healthy living expert, and founder of HAN. She helps both men and women around the world lose weight, heal skin disturbances, balance hormones, heal gut imbalances and feel at home in their bodies through healthy eating, movement, mindfulness and positive self-talk. Her goal is to help others “learn the tools that they need to live the lives they deserve”. Get to know her by visiting her website and following her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.