An Introduction to Ayurveda and Doshas
The roots of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic medicine can be traced back to the Indian subcontinent over five millennia ago. The underlying premise of Ayurveda is that everything, people and their surroundings, are all connected and interdependent; therefore, Ayurveda studies the mind, body and soul in addition to external factors that affect us. The main component of Ayurvedic theory is the Doshas, often simplified as “body types.” However, Doshas actually govern the physical and mental functions of the body. When Doshas are in harmony, a person will experience good health, but if they are unbalanced, maladies can occur.
Although everyone has all three of the Doshas, there will generally be a dominant Dosha that dictates the Ayurvedic constitution type. Physical and mental characteristics, strengths and reactions to external stimuli are all thought to be determined by your constitution type. Learn about the functions of each Dosha and about the dominant constitution types below.
Elements: ether & air
Vata is defined as absolute life energy. Vata controls voluntary and autonomic movement, influences the skeleton and regulates the internal organs, which affects circulation, respiration and excretion. Vata also affects spiritual receptiveness, clarity, and alertness.
Vata constitutional types are generally characterised have dry skin and a light frame. They tend to have irregular eating patterns and, therefore, irregular digestion. Vata types are characterised as enthusiastic and quick-witted. They have good short-term memory; however, these types can be prone to worrying and sleep disorders.
Elements: fire & water
Pitta is equated with the metabolic principle Pitta regulates body temperature, digestion and metabolism in addition to eyesight, intellect and emotional expression.
Pitta constitutional types tend to have normal skin with freckles and moles and a medium to heavy build. Often they have a good appetite and regular digestive system and prefer cold food and drinks. Pitta types often work in a systematic and organised fashion, and while their perception and memory are thought to be fairly average, they are good speakers and have a sharp intellect. They also have a courageous and adventurous character that is prone to impatience.
Elements: earth & water
Kapha influences the body’s immune system and is responsible for fluid balance, regulating mental stability and memory functions.
Those with a Kapha constitution often have smooth and oily skin and dark hair. They don’t often experience hunger and have a slow digestive system. Kapha types tend to be slow learners and approach things methodically. They are known for their strength and endurance, as well as their calm and balanced personality. They have good long-term memory and are generally heavy sleepers.
Ayurvedic treatments, which usually incorporate oil, powder and herbs, have become more readily available at many spas. Shirodhara requires the pouring of oil on the third eye to release stress, while oil is placed on the lower back during Kati Vasti to release tension. The four-handed Abhyanga massage is also unique to Ayurveda. While Ayurveda treatments have become more readily available, to immerse yourself in the true Ayurvedic healing experience, you should enrol in a retreat. Many retreats begin with a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor and some programmes even serve Ayurveda cuisine, specific to certain Doshas.
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