What Is Ayurveda?
Modern medicine uses solutions that target the symptoms of the ailments rather than the actual root of the problem itself. In contrast to this, Ayurveda focuses on the synchronous relationship between the body, mind and spirit. This is one of the reasons it has gained increasing traction over some allopathic medicine. Not just this, but it highlights the inter-connectedness of all living things in our environment. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, balance in every facet of life like the foods you consume, exercise, your career and social relationships are important in one’s overall well-being. By finding this delicate balance within ourselves, we can promote longevity in our physical and mental health.
What Are Vata, Pitta And Kapha?
Ayurveda is centered around an individual’s specific constitution, also called prakriti. This is also extended to the five elements (earth, air, fire, water, space/ether) that are said to make up the world around us. From these two things, it is believed that each person is made up of three doshas- Vata, Pitta, Kapha. They are a unique pattern of energy that affects the body and mind. This is also influenced by the food you eat, the amount of exercise you get and your interactions with others. Everyone has their own ‘fingerprint’ ratio of these three elemental energies.
Vata (Elements Of Space And Air)
It is the dosha that governs movement. This includes all our internal bodily functions as well. If you have a dominant Vata, there may be several tell tale signs. These individuals may have a flexible, quick and creative mind. They may be very lively, energetic and perform all actions like talking and walking very fast. They also get fatigued easily and have confidence and will power on the lower side. These people are said to not cope well with change and tend to be bad planners.
In terms of food, they tend to thrive off of warm foods that have sweet, salty and sour flavours. Some good examples are stews, soups, etc. It is believed that Vata should consume 3-4 meals a day with sufficient snacks and an hour gap between meals. People with a dominant Vata should follow regular timings when it comes to food. Usually, it is recommended that these individuals eat cooked vegetables but some such as potatoes, brinjal and spinach should be avoided if you have aching joints. Cold or frozen foods should also generally be avoided. Fresh fruits are great for Vata as they require plenty of protein and healthy nutrients. Nuts, nut butter and seeds are supposed to be beneficial for Vata as well.
Vata-predominant people are suggested to establish a routine as an unbalance in this dosha can cause anxiety and stress. According to Ayurveda, Vata is concentrated at the ear, brain, skin and joints. Several diseases like pneumonia, dry cough, asthma, heart and skin disorders are associated with it. As part of the daily practices, relaxation should be prioritized.
Pitta (Elements Of Fire And Water)
It involves the regulation of body temperature and digestion. People with this dominant dosha are said to have warmer temperatures and sharper intelligence. They usually have a strong metabolism and a hearty appetite. They tend to perspire more and are recommended to exercise during the cooler parts of the day as the hot sun may not be suitable for them. Individuals with a dominant Pitta tend to be leaders and excellent planners but an unbalanced Pitta may result in agitation and anger.
The transformation of food is important in pitta and it is suggested that sour and spicy foods be avoided for this dosha. Meat, eggs, chilies, raw onion and even alcohol are not suitable. Salads and raw vegetables are beneficial for Pitta. Seeds and nuts may have too much oil for this dosha, but coconut oil and other cooling oils are good. Dairy products also have benefits for Pitta and sweeteners are more suited to this dosha than the others. Their salt intake should also be regulated.
An imbalance in the Pitta dosha can cause ailments like ulcers, inflammation, skin rashes, fevers and more. To establish a healthy balance, your daily routine could involve meditation and inhaling cooling scents like rose, mint and lavender.
Kapha (Elements Of Water And Earth)
It is the dosha that oversees nourishment and lubrication. These people tend to have strength, endurance and a slower metabolism. They are usually grounded people with calm, loving characters. When out of balance, they may become lethargic, envious or greedy.
People with a dominant Kapha usually gravitate towards pungent, bitter tastes. Dairy and oily, fried foods should be avoided by them. Fewer grains are required by them but millet and buckwheat are beneficial. Kapha may consume raw vegetables and fruits like mangoes, apricots, cranberries and pears that are suitable for this type of dosha. They have a seldom requirement for animal products and beans as they require less protein. Seeds and nuts usually have oil but the occasional sunflower and pumpkin seed are alright.
Some of the disorders associated with an imbalance in Kapha are sinus congestion, water retention, headaches and obesity. To maintain balance, these people can exercise regularly, avoid napping during the day and drink plenty of fluids.