Ayurveda and the Beauty of Knowing Oneself

November 8, 2023

“Life itself is a healing process.” ~ David Frawley

Ayurveda literally translates to ‘the study of life.” It is an ancient practice that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda focuses on four components: body, senses, mind and soul. It is a beautiful practice that views the person as a whole, and not separate pieces. According to Ayurveda, the pillars of health are: sleep, food and managing our energy.  A belief in Ayurveda is, “The microcosm is a drop of the macrocosm.” Just like Mother Nature is composed of different elements, seasons and transitions, so are we humans.

There are five elements in Ayurveda: ether, air, fire, water and earth. These elements in their own unique combination make up the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha. “Dosha” refers to energetic/body constitution. We are a combination of all three doshas, in different proportions, and changing throughout our lives. Each dosha is different in their mental, emotional, and behavioral habits and tendencies. They each have specific ways of getting out of balance or aggravated. The two laws of Ayurveda are: like increases like and opposites bring balance. Ayurveda identifies 20 qualities (10 pairs of opposites). When we have too much of one quality, it can lead to imbalances and dis-ease. To restore balance, invite in the opposite quality.

Just like the five elements live within the doshas, they also make up the six tastes, times of the day and the Earth’s seasons and the seasons in our own lives. Vata is composed of Ether and Air. Pitta is composed of Fire and Water. Kapha is composed of Earth and Water. Vata is like the wind, it initiates movement. Pitta is like the sun, it transforms. Kapha is like the moon, it nourishes.

Each dosha has their own characteristics for being in balance and out of balance. A Vata person could show imbalances with: dry, cracking skin, joints, nails and hair. Digestion would tend towards constipation, bloating, and gas. Vata governs the hips down so an imbalance may show up as low back pain. An emotional imbalance for Vata looks like: restlessness, insomnia, fear, anxiety and nervousness. Balanced Vata is: enthusiastic, social, likes variety, is creative, and can adapt easily and learn quickly.

A Pitta person could show imbalances with: inflammation, skin, rashes, acne, heartburn, acid indigestion, burning/itchy eyes. Emotional imbalances for Pitta look like: anger, frustration, overly competitive, and hyper critical. A balanced Pitta is: organized, focused, disciplined, courageous and goal oriented.

A Kapha person could show imbalances with: congestion, seasonal allergies, heavy/sluggish feeling in the stomach and a lack of hunger. An emotional imbalance for Kapha looks like: depression, unmotivated, attached and stubbornness. Balanced Kapha is: steady, dependable, calm, loyal, and compassionate.

One of my favorite teachers, Dr. Rosy says, “Ayurveda is everything.” Here is an example of how Ayurveda can show up in so many different areas of our lives. Fall/Winter is the Vata season. The qualities of Vata are: dry, light, cold, rough, mobile, subtle, clear. Can you imagine a person with a dominant Vata constitution, in their Vata phase of life (ages 50-75), during the Vata season, doing lots of Vata activities like jumping on a trampoline, flying/commuting, talking,motorcycle riding, eating lots of foods with the Air and Ether elements (bitter, astringent, pungent), during the Vata time of the day (2 am-6 am, and 2 pm-6 pm)? There is a good chance this person will be out of balance, because too much of the same quality could lead to dis-ease. Because Vata is light, cold, rough, and dry, it is typically recommended for a Vata person to introduce the opposite qualities: warm, oily, heavy, relaxed and grounding activities. Similarly-eating warm, oily and heavy foods that have the earth, water, and fire element.

Every individual is so perfectly unique. For more of a deep dive into Ayurveda, daily practices, transitioning with the seasons, diet recommendations and harmonious practices, please consult with an Ayurvedic Health Counselor or practitioner. Meagan has been studying Ayurveda intensively for the past year and is eager to share it with her clients. She will be working with tenclients this winter for practice clinical sessions and having follow up sessions to provide lifestyle and diet recommendations. This year and next year she will be spending three weeks on campus at Kripalu to learn more about clinical assessment. She has found such a passionate love for this science and wisdom. Along with offering Ayurveda consultations in summer 2024, Meagan also plans to lead seasonal cleanses and Ayurvedic Workshops.

Meagan Visnaskas, LMT is a licensed massage therapist at the NH Health & Wellness Center. She is currently enrolled at the Kripalu School of Ayurveda working towards becoming an Ayurveda Health Counselor in summer 2024. To schedule a session or for more information, call 603-801-2777 or email meagan@nhhealthwellness.com.

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