Ayurveda is known as 'knowledge of life' or 'the science of life'. The word stems from the Sanskrit words Ayur, meaning life, and Veda, meaning knowledge. Ayuervedic medicine has been practiced in India for over 5000 years and is one of the world's oldest holistic healing systems. It centres around the idea that health and wellness is achieved through a delicate balance of body, mind and spirit.
Rather than seeking a cure for physical and mental ailments, Ayurveda seeks to maintain good health - detecting and treating conditions before they can develop into full-blown disease.
Yoga is an important part of Ayurveda. It is used to relieve physical stress and calm the mind before meditation. Both yoga and meditation are crucial parts of dinacharya, the Ayurvedic routine.
Ayurveda acknowledges the individuality of each person and does not prescribe a panacea for all ailments. Ever wondered why some people are creative, others are stressed or fiery. Why some people can eat a five course meal, whereas others struggle to finish a small plateful? The answer lies in the three different body/personality types known as 'doshas'. Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water).
Although there are only three doshas, they can be combined in a variety of ways so that there are ten different body types. For example, one can be a pure vata or vata-pitta, a pitta-vata etc. All humans have all three doshas present, but usually it's one or two that dominate. You will learn more about your constitution during our Ayurveda Satsang (discussion) on your retreat.
Every person is born with a unique combination of Vata-Pitta-Kapha, which gives you your innate constitution, or prakruti. However the doshas are in a dynamic state of flux throughout our lives. They change in response to our actions, thoughts, emotions, the foods we eat, the seasons, and any other sensory inputs into our mind and body. This means that you can have a different combination of doshas at different stages of life.
When we speak of our doshas being 'in balance' we do not mean all three are in equal proportion, but rather as close as possible to your prakruti. When we are living in harmony with our individual natures, we naturally make lifestyle and dietary decisions that foster balance within our doshas. When we live against our intrinsic natures, we support unhealthy patterns that lead to physical and mental imbalances, or Vikruti. If the proportion of doshas in your current state is close to your birth constitution, then your health will be vibrant. A divergence between these states, however, indicates a state of imbalance.
To discover your current doshic state you can take this quiz.
Vata is governed by the elements of air and ether and is associated with movement.
Vata dominant people tend to be thin, cretative, quick thinking, clear communicators who are susceptible to cold weather. When vata is out of balance the result can be stress, anxiety, constipation, dry skin, insomnia and excessive worry.
Balance created by: grounding, warming, routine.
Pitta is governed by the elements of fire and water and is associated with transformation.
Pitta dominant people tend to be athletic, joyful, courageous, highly motivated and driven. When pitta is out of balance that fiery nature can become an inferno - anger, rage, ego, rashes, inflammation and heartburn.
Balance created by: cooling, calming, moderation.
Kapha is governed by the elements of water and earth and is associated with stability.
Kapha dominant people tend to be of a larger build, strong with good stamina. They are calm, thoughtful, loving and loyal. When kapha is out of balance it can lead to weight gain, asthma, diabetes, greed, lethargy and depression.
Balance created by: drying, stimulating, expressing.