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The easy answer is that it is the traditional science of Ayurvedic medicine is designed to bring the body back into balance so it can heal itself, which in itself is amazing, but underneath all of that, Ayurvedic medicine is so much more. Ayurveda is a Vedic science which, like yoga, has only one purpose: to expose the illusion and neediness of the mind and become free.
Ayurveda is the science that seeks to free you of all that, and let the real, delicate, vulnerable and powerful “truth of you” out so you can be fully content with just being you!
In Ayurveda, the mind is thought to be the origin of all disease. The mind creates protective patterns and belief systems that start early in childhood and shape your personality today.
As infants and toddlers, the mind is poorly developed and, thus, rays of purity exude from these amazing kids. Perhaps that is why we are so attracted to every precious gu-gu and ga-ga! But as we grow up and get hurt feelings on the playground, or figure out how to get mommy and daddy’s approval, or discover the euphoria of ice cream, each child creates a new, safer version of their personality based on these very unique experiences.
These childhood personality traits are often carried into adulthood and, while they served you as a child, they often don’t serve you as an adult. These protective emotional patterns are generally created to keep the child safe and out of emotional harm’s way, but as adults, they put significant stress on the body. Childlike worries of what people will think of you – am I pretty enough? Tall enough? Smart enough? Athletic enough? Do they like me? – all are interpreted by the body as stress.
Specifically, research now tells us that these emotional stresses are processed through the gut, causing the digestive process to break down first. This is perhaps best illustrated by the current gluten-free and dairy-free fad diets – shunning so-called “bad” foods which are just a touch harder to digest – that’s all.
From stress-related digestive distress, a degenerative stress response is driven into every cell of the body. Depending on your genetic predisposition (or what Ayurveda calls your body type or dosha), your body will break down in its own unique way as a result of a compromised ability to process stress.
Additionally, though these emotional reactive patterns to stress or trauma are created in the mind, they eventually store in the fat cells as molecules of emotion. By purifying the body, these emotional molecules are released, setting the stage for deep mental, emotional, and spiritual transformation.
Ayurveda is a system of medicine designed to remove the imbalance of the physical body, while providing the mental clarity needed to change unproductive mindsets.
In Ayurvedic medicine, optimal health and even one’s spiritual growth starts with prevention. Prevention is based on a balanced lifestyle that is in harmony with the cycles of nature. Ayurveda recognizes that all living creatures, whether human, plant, or animal, must live in harmony with nature in order to survive. Like the owner’s manual of your car prescribes maintenance schedules for the long-term health of your car, Ayurveda speaks of daily and seasonal routines that ensure maximal health, mental clarity, and longevity.
For example, birds fly south in the winter. Their survival depends on it. In the fall, leaves turn red and fall off the trees. It’s a law of nature.
We tend to insulate ourselves away from much participation in the changes that take place from one season to the next. We don’t realize that, just like the birds, our survival depends on it, and that simply putting on or taking off a sweater and eating the same foods 365 days a year is not in keeping with the original human design.
Going to sleep and rising with the sun, eating seasonal foods for your region, and building your activities around the natural rhythms of the day are all simple and profound ways to stay in harmony with nature.
Ayurvedic Body Types
In Ayurvedic medicine, one’s individual nature is mirrored in their body type, or dosha. The doshas reflect three main governing principles of nature, called vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth-water).
Each person is a unique combination of these three principles or doshas, with different proportions of each existing within us. These three basic Ayurvedic principles combine to make ten unique mind-body types.
Based on our Ayurvedic body type, what we eat, how we exercise, when we sleep, and even where we prefer to live, will have its own unique blueprint.
Once you know your body type, Ayurveda provides protocols to align your internal nature with the larger cycles of nature, such as the daily rhythms and seasonal cycles. In Ayurveda, seasonal and daily routines include proper diet and a balanced lifestyleaccording to your type. Ayurveda then makes very specific recommendations for resetting digestion, restoring balance and function, and proper detoxification.
• Vata is the winter principle. Generally, vata types tend to be thin, hypermetabolic, and they think and move quickly. Vata types typically have dry skin and cold hands and feet. They do not like cold weather because they already have many of these winter or vata qualities inherent in their nature.
• Pitta is the summer principle. Much like summer, Pitta types are hot, fiery and competitive, with a medium frame. Pitta types prefer cool weather. When out of balance, they may get heartburn, skin rashes, inflammatory diseases, or just burn out.
• Kapha is the spring principle. Kapha types are easygoing and have a slow metabolism. Kapha types will hold on to more weight and water and tend to develop allergies and congestion. Kapha types have more spring-like qualities in the same way that vata and pitta types carry more winter and summer qualities. Once you know your body type (vata, pitta or kapha), it’s like having a roadmap that points you in the right direction of becoming your best self, so that you can fulfill your potential and experience more joy.