A thousand year old medicine.
You probably won’t find its age-old secrets in your great-grandmother’s old recipe bin (at least for those of us on the western hemisphere of the world), but this foreign-sounding medicinal practice’s secrets are found in many grandmothers’ old recipe bins in the eastern hemisphere and within traditional Indian culture. And it’s not just any old collection of recipes, but recipes that are literally thousands of years old and which contain the wisdom that only thousands of years of practice and study can develop. Easterners are returning to some of their ancient roots by rediscovering the healing power that lies within the ancient alternative medicine, Ayurveda.
The Essence of Ayurveda
Historically, Ayurveda was practiced with the idea that human beings are intimately interconnected and engaged with the natural world. This ancient medicine is grounded in the belief that there is no significant difference between our bodies and the foods we grow or the plants that spring forth from the earth because everything exists and persists from the very same molecular structure and matter. We are so intertwined with the universe, in fact, that our bodies respond to and change with the rhythms and forces of nature. This occurs so deeply and so prevalently within our core that we all can be largely defined by one of the life force energies, what we have come to determine as our dosha.
The three doshas that makeup prakruti, or the basic nature of life intelligence, are: vata, the energy of air which is characterized by movement; pitta, the energy of fire which is characterized by digestion and metabolism; and kapha, the energy of the earth which is characterized by lubrication and structure.
Each dosha, when expressed in both nature and the human body, represents the dominant expression of particular traits; basically, a present imbalancing effect of those traits. For example, because pitta is derived from the element of fire, it persists during the summertime and people who are chemically composed of its energy will see many signs of ‘fire’ in their life, such as rosacea, inflammation, sensitive skin and bad sunburns. So, to balance the fiery effects of pitta in someone consumed with it, that person would want to gravitate towards ‘cooling’ tastes, sights, smells and sounds and avoiding ‘inflammatory’ or ‘spicy’ types of foods or products.
Adjusting our diet, exercise, skin care regimen and mental/emotional patterns to better reflect the needs of our dominant dosha will help us live in harmony with nature and help us to glide through, rather than battle, the changing seasons and life cycles.
Luckily, Ayurveda’s ancient lifestyle secrets, rooted in natural harmonizing and elemental balancing between our bodies and the earth, have been passed down through generations of Indian culture and after its recent widespread renewal in eastern medicine, eventually found its way into some western doctors’ practice.
Today, even in the western world, we have a solid link to genuine Ayurvedic practitioners who can guide us in our journey to rebalance our doshas and center our lives more closely around what our individual inner consciousness thrives on, which will ultimately connect us to everything and everyone in the world.
Discovering Your Dosha
Are you feeling a little lost about where you fit in with these unseen natural energies and how you will be impacted by the changing seasons?
First and foremost, it is essential to discover what your dominant body constitution, or dosha, is; it will open the door to a new world of Ayurvedic-based diet, exercise, skin care and general well-being practices. This dosha quiz developed by Deepak Chopra, through a series of questions dealing with your chemical makeup and emotional tendencies, is a good determination of what your leading dosha energy is. Taking this more in-depth dosha quiz created by leading Ayurveda practitioner and author of Absolute Beauty, Pratima Raichur, will both confirm your leading dosha and get you to start thinking about your body’s own unique functioning a little more. Once you know your dosha, you will begin to learn the differences between all three doshas and the energy feeding practices that support each one. This contributes to a higher quality of life that is in line with what your body energy needs.
In a world and time where the vitality of nature and our connection to it has been severely damaged, the question really should be: why not Ayurveda? Why not try reconnecting to the ultimate healing properties of Mother Earth through an age-old, life-rejuvenating discipline?
Where humanity has done everything possible to disconnect the essence of life from a functional, dependent relationship with the earth, rediscovering nature’s wholly healing offerings and returning to a healthy, balanced standing with the universe would propel the quality of human health towards a higher experience of living.
Ayurveda opens the door to a new experience of life, one that is exalted along with the original design and purpose of existence. While completely reverting from your routine lifestyle to something fundamentally and practically different seems daunting and almost impossible, the truth is, incorporating any aspect of Ayurveda into your life, no matter how small, opens the door to a new world of life-sustaining opportunities.
Try incorporating any aspect of the Ayurveda practice into your life by researching and developing your own life plan centered around your personal interests and self-improvement goals. There are many accessible resources you can rely on to learn more and help guide you in the right direction. Check out my blog dedicated to my own personal research and experience with Ayurveda for some ideas and motivation to begin your own journey.
Tara considers herself a sort of “ramblin’ woman” who dabbles in a lot of different activities and projects which lead her to her next literary idea. Currently, Tara is a writing partner with the United Nations has been devoting many of her freelance writing projects to her interests in Ayurveda, nature and social justice.
Editor: Anne Clendening