Ayurveda is a way of living a more balanced, holistic lifestyle. Ayurveda is a school of medicine that has been practiced in India for thousands of years.
One of the basic concepts of Ayurveda is the use of the three doshas. These three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata includes the elements of air and ether, and has characteristics of dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, and clear. Pitta has the elements of fire and water, and its characteristics include oily, sharp, hot, light, mobile, and liquid. Finally, Kapha includes the elements earth and water and is characteristically heavy, slow, slimy, dense, soft, static, and sticky.
Each person is born with a certain doshic constitution, and shifts from their basic constitution result in imbalances in the mind and body. For instance, if someone is born primarily Pitta and secondary Vata, but then they develop obesity later in life, then they have a Kapha imbalance that must be healed. Since Kapha is a slow and heavy dosha, it would need to be balanced with Vata: the light and dynamic dosha. A Kapha imbalance could be healed by eating lighter foods, like fruits and vegetables, and practicing dynamic exercises, like running. To discover your own doshic constitution, you can take this quiz offered by the Ayurvedic Institute.
Once you know your constitution, you can modify your lifestyle to help live a more balanced life! For instance, I am predominantly Pitta, which means I already have a lot of fire within me. In order to stay balanced, I should avoid spicy foods (salsa) and eating cooling foods (cucumber, coconut). Also, rather than practicing hot yoga or running in the middle of the day, I should practice restorative yoga and exercise by swimming. Ayurveda helps balance your mind and body using nutrition and lifestyle choices.
Beyond your basic constitution, the environment naturally changes, and we must take that into consideration when trying to find balance. Winter tends to be dry and cold (Vata), while summer tends to be hot and humid (Pitta). We can use knowledge of the doshas to find balance based on the seasons! In winter, we should avoid Vata lifestyle choices and intake warming food and drink like soup and tea. In summer, we try to reduce Pitta by drinking cooling drinks and eating cooling foods like coconut water and fresh salad.
In Ayurveda, any physical or mental problems can be related back to an imbalance in one of the doshas. By keeping your doshas balanced, you can keep your body and mind balanced and live a long, happy life!