Amber from Truly Thriving shares her knowledge and experience with the healing science known as Ayurveda.
Measuring brown rice and black beans, eating every 2-3 hours, writing everything I’ve eaten down in a notebook, tallying calories, not eating when hungry, eating when I wasn’t hungry, eating only protein and vegetables, eliminating meat, eliminating dairy and eliminating gluten. These are just some of the things I’ve done over the course of my adult life in an effort to achieve a certain level of fitness, look a certain way, lose the excess weight gained after having my children and just to feel better. Some of these attempts make sense for me and some make no sense at all.
As someone who was always in self-study as to how I could feel better by natural means I was truly surprised when I discovered Ayurveda and realized it was what I was searching for all along. It was just so simply designed for us individually and I easily worked it’s principles into my life.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, regarded by many as the world’s oldest healing science, originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. The word Ayurveda (eye-yer-vay-da) translates as the ‘science of life’ or ‘knowledge of life’.
It teaches us how to adopt nature’s rhythm for optimal health and believes we too are made up of the elements of nature. Just like the trees and plants as well as the food we eat we too are made up of the five elements; earth, water, fire, air and space. Why is this important to know? Because like increases like. This is a basic Ayurveda teaching and saying you may have heard. The idea is that whatever elements (earth, water, fire, air or space) you are eating in your food or are in your current environment even season will naturally increase within you.
A food like popcorn would be high in the space element while watermelon will be high in the water element. Again this is important because if you’re someone that tends toward swelling and edema you may not want to eat a ton of watermelon and if you’re someone that tends to feel scattered and ‘all over the place’ you are likely made up of space and air and would want to balance that with foods that are more grounding and of the earth element.
The order in which the elements align in each of us individually determines our dominant energy also known as our dosha or constitution. Knowing our dosha will help guide us toward our tendencies, our needs and any areas of opportunity that may exist. The three energies or doshas also known as your Prakruti are Vata, Pitta and Kapha and each are comprised of different elements of nature.
Vata is made up of air and space and is responsible for all movement of the body; our eyes blinking, our circulation, elimination, running, jumping and playing. Vata people tend to be creative and mentally quick, they tend to be at a lower than average weight, can be anxious or worry a lot but also have contagious energy. Since made out of air and space they don’t have a lot holding them together so they can more easily go out of balance which may lead to insomnia, constipation or feeling overwhelmed and scattered. Vata individuals need grounding (earth) and soothing (water) and benefit from staying warm, enjoying more warm grounding moist foods in their diet and having a regular bed time.
Pitta is made up of fire and water and is responsible for digestion and transformation. Pitta is the heat that transforms food and thoughts to energy. Pitta individuals tend to be of medium build, they’re passionate, intelligent, achievers and can tend to be perfectionists. Known for their courage, focus and discipline when out of balance pittas can become overly critical, irritated, suffer with heartburn or an acidic stomach as well as skin issues. Pittas need cooling both mentally and physically and they respond well to sweetness in the people they associate with as well as their food.
Kapha is made up of water and earth and is responsible for the structure and lubrication of the body. Because of their sturdiness Kapha types tend to be the healthiest of all the doshas both physically and mentally. Kapha individuals tend to have large soft eyes and thick hair. They are also calm, loving and devoted people with big hearts. They tend to make the best of friends however when out of balance they can tend toward procrastination , trouble letting go, excessive sleep and congestion in the chest and lungs.
Ayurveda teaches we have elements of all three doshas within us and how they align in us is just who we are and just as it should be. When we have become out of balance that is when we suffer ailments or are uncomfortable either physically, emotionally or mentally. Learning from Ayurveda and with time ideally we’d become better in tune with what is happening in our body and know just what is needed to avoid falling out of balance. Making adjustments beforehand can essentially eliminate these ailments.
Ayurveda isn’t a subject that is mastered overnight but certainly isn’t as difficult as one may think. I always suggest approaching Ayurveda gradually taking it one step at a time and gauging along the way what resonates with you.
If you’d like more information on Ayurveda there is so much you can find in books and online. I recommend two of my favorite teachers, Dr. Vasant Lad http://www.ayurveda.com/ and Dr. John Douillard http://lifespa.com/.
Local Ayurveda Resources
And if you do better one on one you can find Ayurvedic consultations, workshops and cleanses at Ageless Acupuncture http://www.agelessinsaratoga.com/ and consultations at Joy of Yoga http://joyofyogasaratoga.com/ both in Saratoga Springs. If you’re looking for an Ayurvedic yoga class you can find that at Namaste Yoga http://namasteyogasaratoga.com/ also in Saratoga.
I also offer some online programs and seasonal cleanses as well as in person Ayurvedic consultations and workshops around the area. If you’d like to stay in touch with what I’m up to come visit my virtual home, Truly Thriving.
Amber, a certified holistic health and nutrition consultant and creator of Truly Thriving, a health and wellness practice, has been a lifelong student of nutrition and its impact on our health. You can find her conducting seasonal workshops, offering one on one high level nutrition and lifestyle counseling, sharing valuable information on her site and creating more ways to help you thrive.
Disclaimer- The instructions and advice presented are in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical consulting. The information offered is based on my study and experience and meant to share what I’ve found success with. It is your responsibility to ascertain that there are not medical reasons that prevent your participation.