Ayurveda is a term that gets used a lot in the yogic community. It is a multi-faceted concept that can sometimes be difficult to absorb and apply to our own lives. This handy guide will help bring light to the concept of Ayurveda and show how it can be used in a practical way to bring you to balance and well-being.
Ayurveda In a Nutshell
Ayurveda is an ancient healing science that has been practiced for over 5,000 years. In Sanskrit, it means, “Life Knowledge.” This translates into cultivating unity in your mind, body and spirit through diet, yoga, and lifestyle modifications.
Imbalances are usually addressed through assessment of a person’s doshas, or unique energetic makeup and mind/body type. It is believed that we are all born with our own specific doshic balance, and this balance can be thrown into disharmony by various environmental and energetic factors. Furthermore, these imbalances can eventually cause physical and mental discomfort, unhealthy symptoms, and eventually disease.
Ayurveda encourages us to know ourselves and the normal tendencies of our doshas in order to live the healthiest, happiest lives we can.
The Doshas: Our Unique Constitution
There are 3 types of doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and they each relate to a specific element and function in the body:
Pitta: Fire and water element. In charge of assimilation, digestion and transformation. Regulates blood flow, skin and processing of everything we take in through our senses.
Vata: Air or ether element. Governs the nervous system, respiration and elimination. Regulates movement and physical and neurological impulses.
Kapha: Earth and water element. In charge of structure, lubrication and transporting nutrients. Regulates the grounding material that gives bulk to the body. Supplies water for our fluid systems.
Ayurveda says that when doshas are healthy, your body systems perform well, mental function is clear, and you experience physical, mental and spiritual well-being. When doshas fall out of balance, the opposite begins to happen.
What’s Your Dosha?
Each of us has varying amounts of the doshas in our bodies. It is possible to be one dosha dominant or even dual doshic, but the goal is to become the closest to equal parts of all three. Our most dominant dosha is also the one that can become imbalanced the most easily, so it is beneficial to know which one it is so we can address it appropriately.
The best way to determine your prominent dosha is through a series of questions about your body type, mind processes, and emotional tendencies. You can use this knowledge to modify your nutrition and lifestyle to move toward harmony and health.
It is best to take your dosha quiz twice. The first time, consider how your mind and body “normally” function, i.e., when you feel the best, what is your baseline? This will give you a good idea of what dosha dominance you were born with, and how you act and feel when you are most balanced.
The second time, take the quiz based on how you are feeling now or lately. This will give you an idea of how close you are to your ideal balance, and what you may need to adjust to get back to your baseline or most healthy.
How to Combat Imbalance: The Power of 3
Once you know your doshic tendencies, you can use the information to address disparities. There are three things to consider when choosing the best approach for you: food, exercise, and environment.
Ayurveda considers food to be nature’s medicine. This piece of the practice examines how the body digests and uses what we feed it. For each dosha, there are specific foods and quantities of those foods that are appropriate. Important also is what kinds of herbs and spices we ingest. Ayurveda even provides recommendations for mealtimes and water intake to optimize our bodily functions.
Exercise: Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and Ayurveda go hand in hand. Just as Ayurveda aims to harmonize the mind, body and soul, so does yoga attempt to yoke the three together.
From a physical perspective, there are different styles of yoga and certain asanas that are beneficial to each of the doshas. Yoga practices can range from restorative to deep stretch, from Ashtanga for strength training to power flows for cardio focus.
Ayurveda also tells us to listen to our biological clock and the pace of our lives. As we go through our daily routines, we can expose ourselves to stressors such as weather that doesn’t jive with our body’s preference, activities that are contraindicated for our creative and mental tendencies, and experiences that stunt our emotional functions. These stressors contribute to the imbalance of our doshas, blurring our sense of true self.
From this perspective, yoga and meditation can help us be more in tune with our bodies, and hone awareness of our mental and emotional processes. We can then make better choices concerning what kind of work and hobbies we pursue, what type of environment we prefer to live in, and what kind of sensory input we expose ourselves to.
Using the wisdom of Ayurveda, we can slow down to counteract stress, take the time to sleep and feed ourselves well, and get enough of the right kind of exercise that we need to function at our best.
Get Started On Your Ayurvedic Path With a Yoga Retreat!
Here at the Goddess Garden, we can provide everything you need to address your imbalances and to implement dietary, exercise and lifestyle changes that will bring your body, mind and spirit into harmony. These practices can go well beyond your experience here in Costa Rica, and help prevent future dis-ease in your life.
Our spa treatments are specifically designed with an Ayurvedic philosophy to address your individual doshic needs. Our offerings include marma massage to target energetic points where the doshas are said to intersect in the body, massage oil blended specifically for your individual doshic tendencies, and reflexology.
We also provide a wide range of dietary options, and our menu is frequently dosha-focused. Our ingredients are mostly local and always healthy. We can accommodate for vegan and gluten-free guests as well.
Our goal with our Ayurvedic-focused spa and cuisine is to complement your yoga teacher training or yoga retreat in order to offer you a whole-health experience. We want you to be completely relaxed and centered so you can be entirely relaxed and maximally balanced when you attend your yoga and meditation practice.
Ayurveda can be a wonderful tool in addressing imbalances, whether mental, energetic, or dietary. At the Goddess Garden, we embrace the Ayurvedic approach to health by offering spa treatments, yoga, meditation, a wholesome diet and a tranquil, soothing environment to help you on your way to becoming your most centered and happy self.