The foundation of Ayurveda is the simple principle that we (our body/mind continuum) is a microcosm of the macrocosm. To simplify, the entire universe is composed of five elements, or in Sanskrit terminology, pancha mahabhutas, and so too is our body. Earth, water, fire, air and space/ether are the elements from which all things are comprised.
The word Ayurveda itself, mean life science although it’s not just a science per say, but a way of living based on the philosophy that the five elements as mentioned above, come together to create all aspects of matter in our inner and outer environments. By applying the ‘science’ of Ayurveda, you will learn to manage the changing and non-changing aspects of your life.
Ayurveda has two main functions: 1) curative; 2) preventative. This is done by not only investigating the physical health of an individual, but also by investing time to delve into a persons mental and emotional health as well as look to various biological factors including digestive fire, sense perception, thought patterns, and other bodily functions that effect a person’s overall well being.
As you well know, each individual has a unique genetic disposition. Ayurveda uses a specific classification system called doshas to help classify the genetic and habituated differences that each one of us is/has. The word dosha means that which has the capacity to change. Or more simply put, that which typically goes faulty. Because each dosha has a a unique set of qualities, functions and responsibilities in our body and mind, these aspects will show up in our physical, mental and emotional traits and characteristics. (It’s important to not that no one dosha is no better or worse than another. Again, this is just a way for us to be able to categorize and then work with what we have in front of us.)
Vata, Pitta and Kapha
Doshas are the dynamic bio-energetic forces that invokes specific qualities for life. Therefore they each represent a specific function in our body.
- VATA dosha is the elemental combination of space/ether + air and is the principle of movement.
- PITTA dosha is the union of fire + water and is the function of transformation.
- KAPHA dosha is the aspects of water + earth coming together and represents structure and growth.
The doshas are a means to help you classify, learn from and work with the composition of elements that is uniquely YOU! And because like the elements in your outer environment, you are in a constant state of influence and change, so too in your doshic disposition. By determining what your most natural state and healthiest state living is, you can then look to acknowledge the ways in which you current live (eat, work, think, sleep and play) and move adjust aspects of your diet, lifestyle, habits, environments, experience, though processes, etc so that you can live your best life.
So now what?
A quiz! Although this is just the introduction to determining your unique doshic properties, it’s a start. Download and take this quiz twice. The first time, answer the questions based on how you are feeling today or in the last couple of days. Try not the thing about the answers too much but rather just go with what resonants most. If at all possible, only choose one answer per question per caterogy. Tally up your totals for each of the three columns.
The second time you take the quiz, try to honestly reflect on how you were as a child. Think back to pictures your seen, or stories you have heard from years back. Asking family members or friends from that time in your life is a great option if you are stuck on a question although not necessary. Again, don’t stress to answer the question, just go with your gut – it’s usually right. Tally up your totals each of these responses.
Now you have in your hands what we call your vikruti (where you are today) and your prakruti (how you were in your youth). If you compare the totals from these two sheets, you may find similarities or some unique changes have taken place. It is with these numbers that we then look to apply healing and support practices to assist your predominant dosha.
More on that in our next post.