I must say that I have been involved in Yoga for 15 years now and it has always felt like I should automatically know what Ayurveda is, yet haven’t known for many years. When I took the step to become a Yoga Teacher, this assumption became even more evident and even my students started asking me about it.
So I did some research, attended retreats, consulted with Ayurvedic practitioners, and this is what I came up with:
Ayurveda is a whole-body, holistic, healing system and in Sanskrit it means “Knowledge of Life”. It's based on the idea that disease is due to an imbalance or stress in a person’s consciousness and focuses on promoting good health, as opposed to fighting dis-ease. Ayurveda practitioners believe that we are all made up of the five elements - earth, water, air, fire & ether and that these elements and their qualities combine in the body to form three life forces or energies known as the Doshas.
Doshas are dynamic energies that control how our bodies work, including the physical and mental, yet constantly change in response to our emotions, actions, thoughts, the seasons, the food we eat, and any other sensory input. Each person inherits a unique combination of doshas - Vata, Pitta & Kapha. One dosha usually predominates a person, while another has a strong influence.
To figure out your constitution there are several tests available, but for ease try here: https://www.pukkaherbs.com/our-mission/ayurveda/dosha-quiz/
The three doshas are Vata, Pitta & Kapha.
Vata is said to be the most powerful of the doshas and its energy reflects the elements of air & space (ether). It controls the basic body functions including how cells divide, blood flow, heart function, breathing, the mind, and waste through the intestines. A person with this predominant constitution will be quick thinking, thin & fast-moving.
Pitta energy reflects the elements of fire & water and it controls digestion, metabolism & hormones linked to your appetite. A person with a majority of this constitution is said to have a fiery personality and oily skin.
Kapha energy controls muscle growth, body stability, strength, weight, and your immune system. It represents the elements of water & earth. People with strong Kapha dosha are said to have a calm temperament and a solid framed body.
The goal is to find or regain balance within our dosha constitution, with our predominant dosha being most susceptible to imbalance. Often related to diet, stress, and lack of self-care, when we remain out of balance for a significant length of time, we are likely to develop dis-ease within our physical bodies. Naturally, each dosha relates to different types of dis-ease in the body and therefore, treatment is individual to the person. It often looks like different lifestyle choices and includes diet, yoga, meditation, daily rituals, massage, internal digestive cleansing and so much more. While Ayurveda is a cool subject to check out, it is very involved with practitioners not only living an Ayurvedic lifestyle but also learning concepts over many years. For the yoga enthusiast, it can be an amazing addition to one’s tool belt of yoga knowledge and beneficial in their daily life.
At Alpha Yoga School, we believe Ayurveda is an important part of our Teacher Training and incorporate it in the Philosophy module.
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