When in tune with your own sense of well-being, one can sense the times when we are out of balance, and how that affects our relationships, our self-image, and general contentment with life. Most of us live in a constant state of imbalance due to stress, media, work, and other factors, preventing us from living to the fullest.
Ayurveda, an Indian art of medicine dating back over 5,000 years, translates to the “science of life” or “the art of longevity.” It is founded on the principle that all of the five elements of nature are a part of us, and that if we keep these elements in balance, we can lead lives filled with energy, contentment, and connection to others. This science focuses on prevention, treating us as unique individuals who require specific and proactive treatments to maintain a healthy balance of mind, body, and spirit.
The practice of Ayurveda involves customizing treatment to an individual’s unique constitution, true nature, or prakriti. The types of constitutions, called doshas, are derived from the five elements of nature, and fall into one of three categories: Vata (wind and air), Pitta (fire), and Kapha (earth and water).
We digest everything in our lives, from food to the environment. As these factors change, our doshas fluctuate, resulting in disrupted well-being. By identifying and addressing your specific prakriti and current dosha, counselors use food as medicine, bodywork, and other lifestyle adaptations, to achieve balance for long-term, sustainable wellness.
Likewise, one's personal habits and daily routine (dinacharya), involve making small shifts in rituals, environment, diet, exercise, and lifestyle, to balance one's dosha and current imbalances. These small shifts, over time, can be transformative.
Ayurveda's laws say that opposites balance, and like increases like. For example, during summer's Pitta (fire/water) season, we may be prone to diarrhea, skin irritations, odorous sweating, fever, inflammation, and a hypercritical or intense mental outlook. During this time, we want to incorporate balancing practices that cool and calm us. Avoiding caffeine, strenuous activity, and stressful environments, while incorporating cooling foods (e.g. cucumber and mint), calming meditations, and peaceful work, will all keep balance during these months.
Ultimately, the wisdom of Ayurveda lives inside of you. If you go inward, develop awareness of the imbalances in your body and mind, and integrate simple shifts in your self-care practice, the results can be transformative. As with any practice, ongoing dedication and consistency lead to better outcomes.