Ayurveda is an ancient Indian philosophy which provides tools for managing daily life. It’s known as being the ‘science of life. Helping us find a way to live healthy on a daily basis.
Many of us struggle in life. Especially making lifestyle choices.
Should I eat this? Or that? Do those ingredients work for this or will they make that more worse?
The problem is following the crowd. If there’s a new diet we all follow. Don’t we?
But, instead of following the latest craze, we need to follow one person.
Do you ever look at what makes you different to others?
For instance, are you thin, medium or of a strong frame?
Do you put weight on easily?
Can you eat without putting on a scrap of weight?
Maybe you’re like me, and your weight yo-yos, one year you’re overweight. And the next, you’re underweight for no apparent reason.
Do you look at your personality when it comes to diet?
Well, most of us wouldn’t. Would we?
But our natural emotional state plays a huge role.
For instance, do you eat more when you’re having a low day? Or maybe you eat more when you’re happy?
Ayurveda addresses all of the issues above.
It’s pretty clear to see why it’s known as the science of life.
What is Ayurvedic medicine.
Ayurvedic or ayurveda medicine, an indian medical system has been around for 5000 years.
Translated, “ayur” means life and “veda” means knowledge or science.
Therefore, Ayurveda is the knowledge or science of life.
Most of us fail to carry out healthy systems. In all honesty we’re not good at sticking with things. And we tend to stop once we’ve achieved the desired effect.
Not ayurveda, this is a life-long system.
Providing lots of tools for us to learn how to live life. It not only provides diet and exercise as tools. Therapy methods like massage, meditation and herbs are also used.
# 1. Ayurveda recognises the person
Ayurveda looks at the person.
We’re all different after all! And thankfully, Ayurveda recognises this.
Our different body shapes, emotional states and dietary habits all play huge roles when following Ayurvedic principles.
Which gives us ‘choice’.
Which is great, as this system recognises certain lifestyles suit certain groups of people. It recognises unique traits that lead us to live our lives in very different ways.
There are three different body types.
In Sanskrit (an ancient indian language used in Ayurveda) body types are called Doshas.
The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha
We tend to have a dominant dosha, based around:-
•retention of information
A person with vata qualities are of a thin and light frame.
Vata types experience bursts of energy and also experience fatigue. Vata’s are also very creative.
Weight loss, constipation, hypertension, arthritis, weakness, restlessness, and digestive problems are signs of an imbalanced vata dosha.
Emotionally, vata’s can experience imbalance which appear as worry, anxiety and insomnia.
A person with pitta qualities are of a medium frame and weight.
They have good digestion and appetite.
Personality wise they are strong leaders and teachers.
Skin rashes, burning sensations, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, heartburn, and indigestion are signs of an imbalanced pitta dosha.
A personality imbalance can appear as being short-tempered.
Kapha qualities show as being calm and collective, and loving.
Kapha’s have a strong build and great stamina.
Weight gain, excessive sleep , diabetes, asthma and depression are signs that this dosha is out of balance.
Are we only one dosha?
It’s common for us to show traits of all three body types.
You may find yourself bouncing between different body types whilst working on imbalances. And that’s fine.
#2. Ayurveda allows us to slow down and introduces us to mindfulness
Our modern life is incredibly fast.
We eat fast. Eat for convenience. And have constant deadlines in our work and personal lives.
This fast living isn’t great. Is it?
In fact, for some, this is a recipe for disaster.
Ayurveda addresses this, allowing us to recognise the need to slow down.
We hear the ‘mindfulness’ word mentioned a lot. Don’t we?
But what does it mean?
Mindfulness is about the here and now.
It helps us to focus and slow down.
Something very much needed in today’s fast paced world with multiple daily tasks to be completed.
We become bogged down, and have no time.
This further impacts on life. Having no time to eat. Hardly any time to sleep. And less time to do enjoyable activities.
We never relax!
We’re always on the go, both physically and mentally.
Our modern world loves to push us towards an imbalanced state of mind.
In ayurveda, this is a ‘vata’ imbalance. Appearing as worry, anxiety and restlessness.
Ayurveda and mindfulness
Ayurveda embraces mindfulness. Allowing us to slow down. It gives us tools to treat imbalances. Addressing behaviours which cause ill-health.
An example could be indigestion. This caused by eating too fast, living too fast, making poor food choices and even sleeping to soon after eating
Ayurveda can address these issues. Giving us tools to slow down.
• breathing techniques can slow down a racing mind and aid sleep deprivation.
• exercise can aid digestion and relax the mind.
And based on body type,
• dietary choices and eating techniques can be suggested to aid and slow down digestion..
By addressing the ‘why’s’, mindfulness gives us the ‘how’s’.
Doing so, allows you to address the here and now, allowing for change.
#3. Gives us a personalised diet plan.
And not a one size fits all plan.
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
The above Ayurvedic proverb beautifully describes the ups and downs of following a diet.
Many of us have eaten unhealthy foods. There then comes a time when some of us feel the need to change our diets. Possibly to lose a few pounds in weight to become healthier or for a special occasion such as a wedding. Diagnosis of disease or poor health can also spur lots of people to change their diets.
The problem with diets
Should a person who changes their diet to lose weight follow the same plan as someone suffering from a physical or mental health disorder.
What do you think?
Well,I don’t believe it should be the same. You see, the problem with ‘diets’ are the lack of uniqueness.
They’re usually one fit all types of diet plan. Which is wrong!
What suits my body is not going to suit yours. We’ve been through different things, we’re possibly different body types and may deal with emotions very differently.
Diet and the Ayurvedic view
Diet is an extremely important part of Ayurvedic philosophy.
And most importantly, Ayurveda assigns foods to suit the emotions and body type of the person. Addressing this treats us as individuals and not a one for all plan.
With diet the following principles are followed:
•Food should be eaten mindfully without distraction.
•We should eat slowly to enjoy food
•To avoid foods becoming cold, we need to avoid taking too long to eat.
•We should eat the right amount for our bodies.
•Food to be eaten only when the last meal has been digested
•Follow the six rasas (tastes), eating foods that suit our body types and emotions.
The six rasas.
When eating a meal, ayurveda requires following six tastes. Eating foods that are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent.
The focus here, is on the reactions that are picked up from the tongue. And depending on which dosha (body type) you belong to, the effects of each taste enhances or diminishes the qualities of the dosha.
Examples of foods for each rasa are:
• Sweet – sweet fruit, milk rice, maple sugar
• Salty – seaweed, soya sauce, seafood and fish
• Sour – citrus fruit
• Bitter – green leafy vegetable, lettuce, turmeric, coffee
• Pungent – onions, garlic, peppers, black peppers
• Astringent – green apples, lentils, split peas, pomegranate
The six tastes and body types
The consumption of each rasa will need to be adjusted according to your dosha type and any imbalances experienced.
Kapha body types tend to put on weight easily and are prone to sugar related illnesses such as diabetes. Light foods are recommended to lower feelings of heaviness. A diet rich in vegetables is key!
Due to this it’s recommended that these types eat more pungent, bitter, astringent foods and less sweet, sour and salty.
Vata body types require carbohydrate type foods especially as they tend to have issues with weight loss and experience tiredness.
Therefore, recommendations for vata body types is to eat sweet, sour and salty foods and less pungent, bitter and astringent foods.
Total opposite to Kapha body types!
Pitta body types are prone to suffer with digestive issues such as ulcers, indigestion and heartburn, so it’s logical to avoid foods that enhance these imbalances, and not eat spicy foods. Pitta types favour eating raw foods as they can help with digestion. For pitta types it’s recommended to eat foods that are sweet, bitter, and astringent in taste and eat less sour, salty, and pungent foods.
The principles of ayurvedic are fantastic. Aren’t they?
For me, a little of everything is helpful. I see no harm following the principles of Ayurveda. Any type of principle or habit that focuses on wellbeing, is a huge thumbs up for me.
Would you be able to follow an ayurvedic way of life?
I’m Cheryl. I’m on a quest to help and share what I’ve learnt about nutrition, yoga, autoimmune disease, hormones and joint disease.
I’m a sufferer of the above diseases and have used yoga and nutrition to manage my illnesses. Success with my health led me to become a qualified Nutritional Therapist and Yoga Teacher.