ABCs of Ayurveda

By: Erica Dunn

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You’ve probably heard the word Ayurveda floating around a lot lately, especially in the wellness community. With people raving around the globe of the advantages of Ayurvedic medicines, it’s hard to ignore such a popular dietary way of life. So let’s break it down to better understand the ABC’s of Ayurveda and find out how it can help you deal with some everyday health issues.

What does Ayurvedic mean:

Ayurveda is a sanskrit word that translates to, ‘The Science of Life’. It’s a big world with it’s own language and deep tradition. It’s a practice that believes that everything in the universe is connected, and that health is achieved by staying in alignment with the rhythm of the world that surrounds us. Everyone and anyone can reap the health benefits of Ayurveda, because the main objective itself is to preserve and maintain health.

3 Doshas Explained:

Those who lead a healthy diet and lifestyle benefit from Ayurveda by becoming stronger and more energised, while those who are sick or at dis-ease will be able to bring back their health in a natural way. The question that is usually followed up in conversation about Ayurveda treatments is, “What’s your dosha?”.

Ayurveda has been around for 5,000+ years and in the simplistic form, it’s a holistic medicine practice from India. Ayurveda is used to prevent and treat a number of ailments but is so much more than that and has really been a foundation for many in maintaining their overall health. For diet, ways to achieve your weight loss goals, exercise to beauty rituals, for some, it all starts with Ayurveda and determining which doshas dominate (usually one or two) within them.

1. Vata Dosha – Energy that controls functions associated with movement like, including improving circulation and breathing. Vata governs movement in the body, the activities of the nervous system and the process of elimination. Qualities of Vata include cold, light, dry, irregular, rough, moving, quick and changeable.

2. Pitta Dosha – Energy that controls the body's internal systems like, gut health and digestion, metabolism and energy. The primary function of Pitta is transformation. Those with a predominance of the Pitta principle have a fiery nature that manifests in both body and mind. Qualities of Pitta include hot, light, intense, penetrating, pungent, sharp and acidic. 

3. Kapha Dosha – Energy that controls growth in the body and boosts the immune system. Kapha governs the structure of the body. It's principle holds the cells together and forms muscle and fat. The primary function of Kapha is protection. Qualities of Kapha include heavy, slow, steady, solid, cold, soft, and oily. 

An individual’s dosha combinations can determine their personality as well as what they need to focus on or let go of in their life, as well as which foods suit their body temperature or which weather conditions they thrive in more.

Ayurvedic remedies

Vedas, or Ayurveda practitioners or doctors, will determine your dosha, which is essentially your constitutional makeup to offer dietary guidance, recipes and ways to create balance in your life from massages to herbal and oil remedies. Even if you don’t know your dosha or what Ayurveda really is, there are simple ways to incorporate this beautiful practice into your lifestyle.

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1. Use a tongue scraper first thing in the morning before brushing your teeth. This is a simple one to add to your morning routine. It’s an excellent way to remove toxins and bacteria that accumulate in your mouth while you sleep.

2. Practice self massage with oils, like warm coconut oil or sesame oil. This is such a wonderful way to practice self care. This luxurious ritual is called Abhyanga. It has many health and beauty benefits such as promoting and maintaining hydrated and soft skin when the oil is absorbed. It’s such a nourishing ritual that will enhance circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system.

3. Cook with spices! Most spices enhance digestion, which is one of the reasons spices are revered in ayurvedic cuisine. Not only do they enhance digestion, but they also remove accumulated ama, so they are valuable additions to your daily diet. Ama is the cause of many underlying health issues. Turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, mint, black pepper, dried powdered ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne are among the ayurvedic spices that enhance digestion and metabolism, cleanse ama from the body and prevent digestive disorders. Many of these spices are available at the Co-op and easy to include in recipes.

4. Get to bed early! Establish a sleep routine and try to wind down a bit earlier. Having a good night’s rest will also help aid digestion and you’ll wake up ready to hit the ground running!