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Four Part Ayurvedic Series:Part One: Introduction to Ayurveda

Four Part Ayurvedic Series:

Part One: Introduction to Ayurveda

Written by Imani J. Mitchell

Ayurveda, pronounced ai-yr-vay-duh, is a Sanskrit word that finds its roots in ancient India. This

term encapsulates a holistic medical practice that spans the course of 5,000 years, centered around nourishing the mind, body, and soul.

When we dissect the word itself, we find that “ayuh” means “life” or “longevity” and “veda” means“science” or “sacred knowledge”. Over time Ayurveda has been translated in several ways, to include “wisdom of life”, “science of life”, or “the sacred knowledge of life”. Yet its essence is singular: Ayurveda provides us with comprehensive tools and resources needed to make sense of life and attain a great well-being.

At this point, it has probably crossed your mind how Ayurveda is different from a traditional form of

medicine or any other practices that one implements to experience a good quality of life. In the study of Ayurveda, I’ve created this “Four Part Ayurvedic Series'', presented in an easily digestible format. If you’re reading this, you are in the right place, as we navigate this series starting with Part One: Introduction to Ayurveda. As you progress through this text, you’ll briefly dive deeper into the study of Ayurveda, its significance, and how it can be applied to enrich our lives.

As I briefly mentioned above, Ayurveda doesn’t focus solely on one part of our existence, it is the

practice of nurturing all of our bodies – mind, physical body, and soul. Given the inextricable link

between them, the health in one body, or lack thereof, directly impacts the others. To venture further

into this “sacred knowledge of life”, Ayurveda deviates from traditional forms of medicine as the

practice is rooted in the natural elements. Ayurveda teaches us to grasp the intelligence of fire, air,

water, earth, and ether (space), and use the information garnered as a life guide.

These elements are represented by doshas, the energetic forces of nature – three to be exact: Vata, Pitta,and Kapha. Each dosha includes all five elements, but only two are predominant in every dosha. Also,just as every element is included in each dosha, we as people also embody every dosha, just in various proportions. Once we begin to perceive ourselves through our dosha(s), we are provided an opportunity to know ourselves and understand the world around us in a more in depth manner.

Speaking of depth, let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? In order to fully capture the essence of Ayurveda and apply it effectively, each of us must learn two things: our constitution (our respective dosha(s)) and where there’s an imbalance. It is imperative to note here that our constitution is something that remains constant and unchangeable, whereas our imbalances amongst our doshas shift often. These fluctuations occur due to changes in seasons, stress level, lifestyle, diet, and environment. Understanding the components and characteristics of each dosha is essential to spot imbalances to follow up with the proper recourse.

Dosha Characteristics

Brief break down:

● Vata primarily consists of air and ether

● Pitta is predominantly composed on fire and water

● Kapha displays water and earth as its dominant elements

Each dosha's energetic qualities manifest for us on a physiological level. Considering the elements and qualities of air, one being wind, Vata is known to govern our communication and all movement. For example, the internal conversation between the mind and nervous system. Or the movement of breath through the body. When imbalances occur within Vata, we experience fear, anxiousness, abnormal movements in the body, etc. Some ways to invite balance back into Vata include, but are not limited to drinking warm fluids and eating whole cooked meals; following a routine when eating, sleeping, and working; and engaging in a gentle exercise that’s calming, like a slow yoga flow.

The fire element in Pitta is responsible for transformation. However, in living organisms, water is the

largest element present. On a physiological level, Pitta is linked to digestion of emotions, thoughts,

experiences, and food; intelligence; understanding. When one experiences a Pitta imbalance, that looks like one reacting and displaying fiery emotions, such as jealousy, criticism, or anger. This imbalance can negatively impact the tissues and organs within the body. Some ways to balance out Pitta include, but are not limited to eating foods that are naturally sweet and bitter in taste; drinking herbal teas; going to bed by 10 pm to promote a healthy sleep cycle; and a moderate exercise routine.

Lastly, the earth element in Kapha is rooted in stability and structure within our lives. Whereas, the

water energy represents love and compassion. Kapha maintains our immunity, moisturizes our skin,

hydrates all cells and systems, etc. An imbalance in a Kapha dosha looks like triggered emotions around greed, attachment, resistance to change, and stagnation in the mind and body. Some ways to invite balance back into Kapha include, but are not limited to an Ayurvedic-self massage with sesame oil; listening to upbeat music; taking risks; indulging in meals that include spices; and vigorous workouts. As you can see the doshas provide great insight on how to identify what areas we can direct some TLC to. Once we learn which constitution we fall under and decipher where there’s an imbalance, we’re that much closer to understanding what type of diet, lifestyle, exercises, and herbs will support our unique needs.

For a deeper understanding and greater results, I encourage you to take a dosha identifier quiz using this link:

Deciding to incorporate Ayurvedic medicine into our lives, is choosing to invite an ancient holistic

system that has stood the test of time and proven beneficial. Ayurvedic medicine offers us agency over our lives, a chance to harmonize with ourselves and nature, and a way to unite our mind, body, and spirit by creating a customized wellness plan tailored to benefit each of our bodies. How beautiful is that?

Now we’ve covered quite a bit, but there’s more to learn about Ayurvedic medicine. In the next post, we’ll discuss the dyad between Ayurveda and yoga. When we incorporate the holistic practice of Ayurveda into our lives along with the practice of yoga, that’s when the magic truly occurs and we can experience optimal health. Stay tuned for the next post.

Until next time.


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