Ayurveda is an ancient science of body, mind and spirit which originated over 5,000 years ago in India. Ayurvedic theory is based on the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth) and the three doshas, or body types: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Ayurveda focuses on the root of a disease, rather than just treating the symptoms. While Ayurveda examines the individual rather than the illness, there are some basic principles of Ayurveda which everyone can follow.
Ayurveda classifies mental and physical disorders as imbalances of Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. The Ayurvedic practitioner targets this vikruti in his or her treatment protocol. Whether Vata, Pitta, or Kapha are out of balance, you can follow these basic principles of Ayurveda to help you regain balance:
1. Eat the proper doshic diet for your vikruti or current doshic imbalance. Ayurveda does not have a “one diet fits all” philosophy. While certain foods (i.e. salads, nuts, dry fruits, citrus fruits) may be healthy in general, that does not mean that they are suitable for your constitution. Ayurveda is based on the tenant that “like increases like”. There are 20 qualities which we consider in an Ayurvedic evaluation. For example, if you have too much cold in your body (cold, congestion, cough) and eat cold foods and have chilled drinks, then that cold quality will increase.
2. Pay attention to your body. It will give you many clues on what it needs. Ayurveda teaches that we participate in our own healing process. See if you can determine what is triggering recurrent headaches, congestion, nausea, fevers, aches and pains, etc. Was it a dietary or a lifestyle change? Consider keeping a food diary or a wellness journal. Record what you ate, your activities, and then your subsequent physical and emotional reactions. Did you have gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation? Did you feel physically or mentally heavy? How did you sleep? If you had pain, where was it located in your body? Was the pain sharp, dull, or shooting? After a few weeks or months, you should be able to find recurrent patterns which are contributing to lack of well-being.
4. Exercise according to your doshic needs. Those with a Vata imbalance should do gentle exercise and restorative yoga. Pitta people should avoid exercising mid-day and refrain from competing in every athletic endeavor. They should walk, swim, or do Pitta balancing yoga postures. Kapha people can do more strenuous exercise, but they have difficulty getting motivated.
5. Those with Vata imbalances should get the most sleep as they usually sleep lightly and lead busier days. Pitta people need a moderate amount of sleep (7-8 hours). Kapha people rise early and avoid sleeping late.
6. Brush your teeth first thing in the morning so that you can eliminate toxins which have accumulated overnight. Then use a stainless steel tongue scrapper to expel toxins from your body and to stimulate the corresponding organs which are correlated to each part of your tongue.
7. Work on having a healthy digestion. Ayurveda states that a person who has good agni (digestive fire) is more likely to be free from disease. Eat the proper Ayurvedic herbs and spices which kindle your agni. Consume warm, freshly prepared meals. Do not microwave your food or eat food older than 24 hours old.
8. Do not drink too much liquid before or after meals. Sip a glass of warm water or tea with each meal. Avoid iced drinks. Too much water with a meal will put your digestive fire and impair digestion.
9. Aim to have a bowel movement first thing every morning without an additional stimulant, such as caffeine. If you find your self constipated for more than two days, consult your Ayurvedic practitioner and take Triphala powder or Sat Isabgol or the proper digestive formula for you. If you have diarrhea for more than 24 hours, consult your health care professional.
10. Pay attention to minor ailments as they arise; this will prevent them from blossoming into more problematic diseases.
11. Do a daily oil massage with the proper massage oil for your vikruti. For a Vata imbalance, you can use sesame oil. For a Pitta imbalance, you can use sunflower oil. For a Kapha imbalance you can use sesame oil, or sunflower oil, or almond oil. You may also use branded Vata massage oil, Pitta massage oil, or Kapha massage oil.
12. Do all things in moderation; the more that your body tends towards excess and extremes in diet, lifestyle, sleep, medications, etc., the more likely this will lead to vikruti.
Basic principles of Ayurveda suggest that you follow diet, lifestyle, and herbal regimens which balance your vikruti or current doshic imbalance. Ayurveda is not a quick fix, but it is a natural, holistic way to rid your body of recurrent health problems, minor ailments, or more serious diseases. It offers gentle cleansing and detoxification problems. Ayurveda allows you to participate in your healing process with your Ayurvedic practitioner as you travel on the road to good health.