Monday, December 6, 2010
Ayurveda Healing: Which Dosha are you?
The concept of Ayurveda is another one of those things that keeps "presenting itself" to me in a variety of ways so I thought I'd write a bit about it.
Ayurveda is really a methodology and healing practice that originated over five thousand years ago in India from a set of spiritual texts called Vedas. In his book "Perfect Health", Deepak Chopra explains that the purpose of ayurveda is to explain how our bodies are influenced by our environments. Chopra believes if you bring your body into balance you can enjoy a higher level of health and prevent disease.
Ayurveda is based on different combinations of the elements of space, air, water, fire and earth. Out of these elements come three central "doshas": Vatta (space & air), Pitta (fire & water) and Kapha (water & earth).
According to the principles, the elements that make up your father and mother combined in different arrangements to form your own constitution or metabolic body type. This is called your "pakruti". Everyone's pakruti contains a bit of each of the doshas, but most people have two doshas that are primary, one of which is most dominant.
While your pakruti remains constant, your body is influenced by seasons, diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle. These outside elements form your day to day constitution , what ayurveda calls your vikriti. Your vikriti should mirror your pakruti in order for you to feel at your best; balanced and free of illness. When your vikriti is thrown off or unbalanced you can feel anywhere from "slightly out of sorts" to quite ill.
The three doshas of ayureveda roughly correspond to the body types we associate with ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph, but it goes much beyond that.
Confused? The first place to start is to figure our your dosha. This is most accurately done by a trained ayurveda physician but there are lots of simple tests you can take to get a good idea. You can find a quick on-line test at www.banyanbotanicals.com/constitutions/prakriti . It's painless- you just answer a few questions and the computer "spits" an answer back to you.
Once you understand your dosha or prakriti, you can start to understand how your body is influenced and shaped. The guiding principle of ayurveda is that the mind exerts the deepest influence on the body and freedom from sickness can be achieved by concentrating your awareness and bringing your body back to balance. Once you know your dosha you can identify what foods, exercise and lifestyle choices might help restore balance.
Ayurveda differs from conventional medicine in that it treats people as individuals that are influenced by different things and treatments. The right diet for one dosha may be completely wrong for another dosha. While everyone contains some of each of the three doshas, we all have different combinations that make us individuals. For this reason we all must find our own balance. It seems like everything is about balance. Ayurveda may be a good way to find tangible ways to achieve that balance and maintain personal health. And along the way- you just might begin to understand yourself a bit better!