What is Ayurveda?

The more that I talk with people about their state of wellbeing, the more I realize how pivotal it is for Ayurveda to shine at this point in history. I also realize, many are not familiar with Ayurveda and what it actually is. How can we use this incredible ancient healing modality in our current time in history? What exactly is Ayurveda and how can we apply this to our daily lives? What is your dosha and unique expression of the elements? I find that it is important to go back to the basics so we can truly grasp an idea of what Ayurveda is and how we can use this ancient science as a tool for our health and wellness. 


Ayurveda is the science of life, the science of self-realization, and the knowledge of life. It is ever evolving. Ayur means life and Veda means knowledge/truth/or science. Dating back to 5,000 years ago, the first written expression of Ayurveda can be found in the Artharva Vedic text from 1,500 BCE that mentions 125 botanical plants and their healing properties. Of course, Ayurveda existed as an oral tradition well before written text. One interesting thing to note about Ayurvedic texts is the physicians, whom were seers cognizing this knowledge, edited and expanded upon previous written text based on experiential trial and error. Therefore, Ayurveda is both traditional and experimental in nature. Ayurveda also acknowledges that one size does not fit all. We are all unique expressions of the elements and embody a constant flow of balance and imbalance from environmental, emotional, and diet-based factors. 


Ayurveda approaches healing from a truly holistic perspective, embodying mind, body, and spirit. The roots of Ayurveda are held in a deeply cultural and ritualistic tradition; you cannot practice Ayurveda without taking into consideration the spirit of existence and connection to divinity. The root of Ayurveda is held in Sankhya Philosophy, or a creation philosophy, that describes the journey of consciousness into matter. We are all in a state of illusion that we exist solely as our functioning bodies, yet we are much more connected to the cosmos than we think. In Ayurveda we seek and value self-realization to fully understand ourselves as a whole being observing and existing in the world. 


The three doshas, vata, pitta, and kapha, are the “humors” and are composed of the five elements in our bodies. We all have these three doshas circulating within us, however the quality and quantity of each varies. Vata is ether and air. Pitta is fire and water. Kapha is water and earth. Dosha is best translated as “organization” because when in balance, or organized properly, with our Prakruti (unique constitution that happens at the moment of conception) we are in a state of health. When they become out of balance, Vikruti, we are in a state of imbalance or dis-ease. This can show up in our mental, emotional, or physical beings. The true goal is to get back to the state of our Prakruti so that we are happy and healthy. 


Vata individuals are typically slender and love to move. They are creative, adaptable, friendly, enthusiastic and thrive off of change. Vata type individuals tend too furiously spend money, particularly at the thrift store as they love old antiques. They wear bright colors and mismatching patterns. They are artistic and have a true joy for life. When out of balance, a vata predominate individual will be fearful, anxious, nervous, forgetful, spacey and will be prone to vata digestion such as constipation and bloating. Nourishing and grounding tools are necessary to get vata back to balance.


Pitta individuals have a moderate body built with well-defined muscles. They may have many freckles and moles and are fiery in appearance and personality. Pitta types are extremely intelligent, ambitious, passionate, and organized. When out of balance, pittas can be judgmental, angry, jealous, and unyielding. Heat in the body is a sign of high pitta. Serenity and cooling practices are best for a pitta who is out of balance. Cooling foods such as cilantro, lime, coconut will help to keep a pitta cool, calm, and collected. 


Kapha individuals have large beautiful eyes and thick lustrous hair. Kapha types are more prone too carrying extra adipose tissue on their body and tend to have slow, steady movements. Kapha personalities are welcoming, loving, forgiving, and caring however can become attached, depressed, or possessive when out of balance. Energizing, stimulating, and warming foods and practices are best to keep kapha motivated and moving. 


Ayurvedic Rasayanas uses traditional Ayurvedic techniques to make herbal jams, teas, oils, and spices. You can find dosha specific products to get your body and mind back to a state of health and wellbeing! 


Are you interested in an Ayurvedic Consultation and discovering your Doshic Prakruti? Beverly offers Zoom and Phone consultations! Feel free to contact her with any questions at shineayurveda@gmail.com or visit her website at shineayurveda.com for more information.


Beverly Foster is a NAMA certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and 500-hour Ayurvedic Yoga Instructor. She received her certification from The Ayurvedic Institute in 2016 under the clinical guidance of Dr. Vasant Lad and worked directly with him as one of his herbalists. She is a board-certified National Ayurvedic Medical Association Professional Member. She currently lives in Southern Oregon where she offers Ayurvedic consultations, including zoom and phone consultations, and traditional Ayurvedic treatments. For more information, questions, or to schedule a consultation, you can contact her via shineayurveda@gmail.com or visit her website at www.shineayurveda.com