Befriending Your Body and Yourself- the Āyurveda Way
Ever tried different diets, different nutrition, different types of exercises or Western medicine to address your body’s issues (such as weight gain, allergies, skin problems, bowel problems, insomnia, fatigue, migraine, inflammation, cracking joints, bronchitis, acid reflux et cetera) but nothing seems to work? Chances are these issues that are showing up in your body are signs of imbalance in your doshas.
Āyurveda is the knowledge, the wisdom, the science and the philosophy of Life. Through understanding our own constitution and our three doshas, the main work in Ayurveda is to maintain the doshas in proportion to the constitutional balance of the doshas. It reinforces how unique each one of us truly is as the proportion of doshas is unique at birth. There are three doshas that make up our constitution, known as Prakriti. These doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. We have all three of them, but at birth the proportion of each dosha is carved in stone. We might possess a predominant dosha among the three or we could be tridoshic, where the ratio of each dosha is almost the same. Each dosha fluctuates within a range in relation to your constitution. Deviation from this range causes an imbalance of the individual’s dosha, and this could be a result of various reasons; diet, lifestyle, environment, work, family situation, menstrual cycle, weather, seasons, aging. It is a disturbance in the doshas which leads to the manifestation of disease. In Āyurveda, attention is paid to the disease process itself and patterns of the doshic disturbance in a person.
Everything in the physical world is composed of five building blocks of Nature essentially being the elements of Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Every dosha embodies these elements and carry qualities, principles of Nature, and even personality traits — affecting the physiology of our body directly.
Āyurveda recognises that digestion is the core of our well-being. Since the Fire element (Agni) embodies qualities of transformation and conversion, it is no wonder that Agni affects our life, strength, energy and supports healthy metabolism. Balanced Agni is the root of healthy life. When Agni is healthy, there is excellent digestion, normal elimination, proper tissue building, high energy, good circulation, strong immunity, good complexion and clear perception of things. An unhealthy Agni can disrupt the flow of digestion. Without proper digestion, the undigested turns into a toxin called Ama. Built-up Ama in our GI-track can spread throughout our body causing illnesses. Therefore the care of Agni from an Ayurvedic perspective is crucial in maintaining good health. Similarly a strong Agni will support the body in the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat, in assimilation, elimination and tonification.
Every living being has an inherent tendency to move in the direction of self-healing and balance; this tendency in Nature to move from a state of ill-health to our individual Prakriti is the strategy that Āyurveda adopts. It recognises the closely intertwined relationship between describing the pathological process in a person and assessing the diseased state. As a result, Ayurvedic therapies are natural and are customised to suit the individual and not standardised for the “average” person. The goal is always to re-establish balance, promote positive well-being and not suppress or provide a “quick-fix”.
Āyurveda not only helps identify the characteristics of each doshic constitution and its health role, but it encourages people to be who they are and to use their own experiences as opportunities for self-knowledge. By observing Nature and its attributes, Āyurveda helps us understand more about ourselves- What is my individual truth? Am I living my life in a way that is congruent to my truth and to Nature?