Ayurveda is an approach to health that originated in India as the “sister science” to yoga.
Ayurveda is based on the belief that everyone has a unique constitution, and that constitutions can be grouped into types based on dominant qualities. This means that what is considered to be optimal health for one person will not look exactly like optimal health for another person.
In Ayurveda, we believe that the constitutions of two people differ because each individual possesses a unique combination of the 3 energies, called doshas, which govern the body and the mind. The 3 doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha.
Vata is the principle of movement and change in the body and mind. It governs circulation and the eliminatory system in the body, as well as the movement of thoughts in the mind and one’s sensitivity to stimulation. Individuals with a vata constitution are creative, expressive, and spontaneous, but can be prone to anxiety, overwhelm, and exhaustion when out of balance.
Pitta is the principle of transformation and metabolism in the body and mind. It governs digestion of food and cellular metabolism in the body, and intellect and focus on a mental level. Pitta people are natural leaders, speak eloquently, and are often very organized and efficient, but can be prone to anger, critical, and argumentative when out of balance.
Kapha is the principle of structure and support in the body and mind. It governs the respiratory system, immune system, and provides lubrication and hydration to all the body’s tissues. It gives the mind a calm, easy-going and generous disposition. Kapha people are relaxed, supportive, and loving, but can be prone to lethargy, stubbornness, and resistance to change when out of balance.
Everyone has some amount of all 3 doshas, but the amount of each determines which qualities stand out the most in your physical, mental, and emotional makeup. An individual can have one or two dominant doshas, or in rarer cases, can have 3 equally dominant doshas.
The amount of each dosha that you have also determines what your optimal health picture looks like. For example: A person with a kapha constitution will usually have a larger build and more body mass than a vata individual, who is more prone to wasting and weight loss and often has very long and lean features, or is very petite. What we would call a healthy body weight for a kapha individual will be different from the healthy body weight of a vata individual, simply due to a difference in constitutional makeup.
Understanding your doshic makeup can provide insight into how you can best manage stress, what kinds of exercise might be most enjoyable and beneficial for you, what foods might be aggravating or balancing, and what kinds of routines and lifestyle habits might help you to feel your best. In an assessment with an Ayurvedic practitioner, we would determine your unique constitution, figure out if anything is out of balance, and then discuss practices and strategies to help you find more ease and wellbeing in your life.
I am studying to be an Ayurvedic Practitioner. As a part of my practicum through the California College of Ayurveda, and under the supervision of my mentor teacher at the College, I am offering free Ayurvedic consultations between November 2017 and April 2018 at the Halifax Osteopathic Health Centre. For more information or to book an appointment, call today at 902-423-1085.
By Rebecca Davies Wilson, Ayurvedic Health Counselor Intern and Registered Yoga Teacher