If you’ve been interested in starting a yoga practice, or you’ve started already, great for you! Way to take the first step for a better you physically, mentally, and spiritually! Now, as you’ve researched yoga, you may have heard or seen the term “Ayurveda.” If you’re like me, the first couple of times, you may have just glanced over it, thinking you could find some context clues to help you figure out what it means. If you’re new to yoga and too afraid to ask what you feel is a silly question, I’m here for you. So, what is Ayurveda and, more importantly, what the heck is it?
What Is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that roughly translates to “knowledge of life.” You can think of Ayurveda in a modern sense as the Science of Life. Ayurveda is a total wellness practice. Indeed, it encompasses routines that help us exercise, eat, and live in the ways that best fit our unique souls. Practicing Ayurveda reminds us that life is incredibly and intricately woven together. What we do and how we live has reverberating effects we may not notice. Something as simple as what time we wake up could affect our entire day and even our physical health. Ayurveda seeks to bring us into harmony, both within and without our bodies.
Ayurveda and the Doshas
As we interact with the world through our 5 senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, the 5 great elements interact within us. These 5 elements are air, fire, water, earth, and ether. In Ayurveda, these 5 elements are grouped into 3 types of energy: doshas. Doshas inhabit everyone and everything, but what changes from person to person or thing to thing is their proportions. Some people are naturally proportioned a certain way, whereas others become unbalanced when their proportions change for many reasons. Part of living an Ayurvedic lifestyle is making intentional choices that maintain the balance of our doshas.
The 3 doshas work together in harmony to maintain life. Each dosha is a combination of elements, as follows:
Vata dosha – ether and air. Vata has a nature of movement.
Pitta dosha – fire and water. Pitta’s nature is digestion.
Kapha dosha – earth and water. Kapha has a cohesive nature, that which holds things together.
Take my Dosha Quiz here to find out your individual dosha combination.
How Does Ayurveda Keep You Healthy?
Ayurveda is an ancient practice that involves living in harmony with our bodies and our environment. There are many different aspects of an ayurvedic lifestyle, but all focus on balance.
An easy new habit for entering into an ayurvedic lifestyle is meditation. Meditation helps us achieve health, balance, and ease. It allows us to slow down and listen to our bodies and inner minds. Meditation allows the body to listen to the mind, and vice versa, encouraging improved integration of the mind, body, and soul.
Each body has unique mind-body constitutions. Depending on your type, different habits and routines will help you improve your well-being. Listening to your body daily can help you identify your prevailing dosha.
One of the first aspects of your life Ayurveda can begin to affect is your diet. Especially once you identify your dosha, you will find that eating certain foods and flavors can greatly affect your well-being. Even what times of day you eat each meal is important. Incorporating an ayurvedic diet into your life not only benefits you physically but can also lead to more creative cooking too.
After you maintain meditation in your routine for a while, you will become much more in tune with yourself, including your emotions. Once you are more aware of your emotions, you achieve a better understanding of your reactions too. You learn to identify emotional triggers, both positive and negative. Every negative emotion is the result of an unmet need. The better we are at identifying our unmet needs, the better we can alter our routines to meet those needs.
Like our emotions, Ayurveda directs us to assess everything we experience and take into our bodies. Our senses are how we interact with the world and take in information. When we pay attention to our senses, we better understand how external stimuli affect our bodies and minds. For example, the smells you encounter throughout a day can trigger emotions and memories. You can use this information to identify which scents bring you peace and serenity.
When and how you sleep are big factors in Ayurveda. If you don’t sleep well, it could be because your sleep schedule is not compatible with your unique makeup of doshas and energies.
The Benefits of an Ayurvedic Lifestyle
The goal of an Ayurvedic routine is to find balance in your life. We ourselves are a universe, and we exist inside a greater universe. When we find balance within, that helps us find balance without ourselves. This balance leads us to more happiness and healthfulness. When we feel good, we do good too. There is a lot to learn on a journey to an Ayurvedic lifestyle, but you can find inner peace and experience better health you never knew you could achieve with many small steps. The best part of Ayurveda is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes straightforward solutions can fix health problems we’ve been dealing with for years!
Start small, start slow, and watch as you learn to listen to your body’s needs. Once you establish this relationship with your body and mind, you will be so much better able to identify and supply just what you need to feel good and thrive.