Considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science, Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well-balanced lives. The term Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning life or lifespan, and veda, meaning knowledge. It has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years and has recently become popular in Western cultures. The basic principle of Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper diet, and lifestyle, as well as herbal remedies, meditations, yoga, and most importantly knowing your unique constitution and what it takes to restore balance.
How does it work?
Everything in the Universe is composed of five elements: air, water, fire, earth, and space. These elements combine to form the three doshas, vata, kapha, and pitta, or metabolic types. In Ayurveda, doshas account for some of our individual differences.
Just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, according to Ayurvedic beliefs, each person has a distinct pattern of energy — a specific combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics.
- Vata – The vata dosha is a combination of space and air. It controls movement and is responsible for basic body processes associated with motion and movement, such as breathing, blinking, heartbeat, cell division and circulation. Vata body areas are the large intestine, pelvis, bones, skin, ears, and thighs. People with vata as their main dosha are believed to be creative, quick thinking, thin, and fast, and are susceptible to dryness, cold, distraction, anxiety, fear, dry skin, and constipation.
- Pitta – The pitta dosha combines fire and water. It controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and temperature. Pitta body areas are the small intestines, stomach, sweat glands, skin, blood, and eyes. In balance, pitta leads to contentment and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta can cause heart disease, inflammations, heartburn, arthritis, ulcers and arouse anger.
- Kapha – The kapha dosha represents the elements of water and earth. It controls growth in the body and is responsible for strength and immunity. Kapha body areas are the chest, lungs, and spinal fluid. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system. In balance, kapha is expressed as calm, sweet temperaments, solid body frames, love and forgiveness. Out of balance, kapha leads to diabetes, obesity, sinus congestion, gall bladder problems, insecurity and envy.
An imbalanced dosha is believed to interrupt the natural flow of prana, or vital energy. The disrupted energy flow is then thought to impair digestion and allow the build up of body waste, or ama, which further impairs energy and digestion.
What should I expect from an Ayurvedic consultation?
Ayurveda focuses on rebalancing the doshas. On your first visit, the practitioner will check your pulse, feel your abdomen, examine your tongue, eyes, nails, and skin, and listen to the tone of your voice. The practitioner will also ask you questions about your general health, paying special attention to your lifestyle, diet, habits, and surroundings. The practitioner will then recommend ways to restore your natural dosha balance, which almost always includes changes in lifestyle, especially diet. Practitioners draw from more than 20 types of balancing methods, but the most commonly advised include:
- Pranayama – breathing exercises. Practicing pranayama helps you feel calm.
- Abhyanga – rubbing the skin with herbal oil to increase blood circulation and draw toxins out of the body through the skin.
- Rasayana – using mantras (repeated words or phrases) during meditation combined with certain herbs to rejuvenate a person.
- Yoga – combining pranayama, movement, and meditation. Yoga has been shown to improve circulation and digestion, and to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, anxiety, and chronic pain.
- Herbal supplements – recommending herbs to restore dosha balance.
- Dietary changes – based on your dosha type with specific do’s and don’ts to stay in balance. Dietary changes often eliminate the need for herbal supplements if followed with discipline and awareness.
- Lifestyle changes – to compliment your dosha and work towards prevention of disease.
At The Oshan Center, the focus always remains on recommending easy to follow changes in diet and lifestyle with emphasis on educating you about your unique constitution. This helps grow awareness in the long run, while taking a close look at how you are supporting or upsetting balance with your actions or thought.