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Understanding Ayurveda

Ayurveda has been around for over 5,000 years making it the oldest, most comprehensive system of medicine known to man. It is a healthy and practical approach to help create a life of vitality and balance. The word itself means ‘knowledge of life’ and the main principles of Ayurveda are the mind/body connection; nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind. Freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body. Other important aspects of Ayurveda include exercise, yoga, meditation and diet.

When we study this ancient form of healing, we learn that each person has a unique physical and mental constitution otherwise known as their ‘dosha’. Each dosha also has a relevant element (see diagram below). Each person’s dosha will have physical and mental qualities that affect the elemental qualities. For example, a person with a predominantly Vata constitution will have physical and mental qualities that reflect the elemental qualities of space and air.

Vata is one of the three doshas, the others being Pitta and Kapha and these are derived from the five elements ether, wind, fire, water, earth.

  • Vatta types tend to have inconsistent metabolisms and have the weakest immune system of the three types. Their body shape is generally small and bony.

  • Pitta types have a strong and consistent metabolism with good immune systems and of average build.

  • Kapha types have a slower metabolism with large bone structures and strong immune systems.

When we are assessing a client, a dosha test is an effective way to obtain more information from the client regarding their physical and mental state, though it is sometimes hard to get a true reading as we don’t always see ourselves as others do (lol). The dosha quiz asks the client certain questions relating to a time in their life where they felt their most healthy and balanced. This is known in Ayurveda as their Prakriti state or their ‘natural’ state. We then ask them the same questions again which relate to their life in the present moment. This is known as their Vikriti state or ‘unbalanced’ state. By assessing the results of the Dosha quiz, we are sometimes able to see where there is an ‘imbalance’ in someone’s life and then we can begin to help the client bring balance back into their life through various slow but sure changes in their mind set, daily activities and diet.

Ayurveda also works with what is known as the ‘maha gunus’. The term ‘guna’ is a Sanskirt word which refers to virtue, excellence, quality or attribute. According to Hindu philosophy there are three gunus. These are:

  • Sattva: Goodness, harmonious

  • Rajas: Passionate, active

  • Tamas: Ignorance, darkness, chaotic, destructive

Each of us have some or the other proportions of each gunu within us.

It is the proportion of these gunus in each one of us that determines the character and development of our lives. The aim is to balance the gunus within ourselves and when this is achieved then our bodies and minds remain a healthy and happy state. For example, if someone is lacking drive or passion in their life - ‘rajas’, then we would help them by trying to encourage them to reignite that passion by introducing certain things back into their lives to take them out of Tamas- the darkness, back into Rajas – passion so that they can then come back into balance living in a harmonious – Sattva state.

Simple really but so effective and beautiful.

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