Ayurvedic therapies are seriously on trend right now - and expensive! Ayurveda translates to “the science of life.” To put it simply, Ayurveda is to India what Chinese Medicine is to China. It dates back to over 5000 years ago and is the oldest and most complete system of understanding health. Ayurveda has to do with your digestion - not just of food, but of experiences. It is a way of understanding your health from a very holistic standpoint. I personally love Ayurveda because the more I learn, the more it feels like I am discovering something I already know.
It’s very hard to break down the study of Ayurveda in a few hundred words, but I’ll try! There are three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These doshas can be observed in you and everything around you. On a simplified level, Vata is “Air,” Pitta is “Fire,” and Kapha is “Earth” and “Water.” Geographic locations, people, food, seasons, times of day, activities, careers, stages of life, cultures, colors - anything you can imagine can be understood in terms of the doshas. Classical Ayurveda lists seven different combinations of these doshas.
These combinations are called “Prakriti”:
Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
Like yoga, Ayurveda has eight limbs:
Internal Medicine - Kayachikitsa
Surgery - Shalya Tantra
Ear, Nose, Throat - Shalakya Tantra
Toxicology - Agada Tantra
Psychiatry - Bhutavidya
Pediatrics - Kaumara Bhritya
Rejuvenation - Rasayana
Aphrodisiacs - Vajikarana
These ways of practicing Ayurveda all start with an understanding of the doshas.
As humans, we can be represented by one of these seven combinations of the doshas. My Prakriti is “Vata Pitta.” Think about the qualities of air and fire and try to imagine what that would look like as the qualities of a person. A few examples of external qualities of a Vata person include being tall or short, thin, bony, low in weight or rapidly fluctuating in weight, and having thin, rough, dry or dull skin. A good example of a famous Vata person is Nicole Richi. External qualities of a Pitta person include a medium to average body frame, moderate or muscular weight, and warm, glowing skin. George Clooney is an example of a Pitta person. From my body type, you can tell that my Prakriti is Vata Pitta - I’m tall, bony and have low but muscular weight, my skin is thin, dry, and can be glowing! If I’m balanced. Mike, my husband, is Vata Kapha. External Kapha qualities include a wide, stocky, well developed frame, heavy or dense weight, and thick, cold, smooth skin. An example of a Kapha person is the lovely, Kim Kardashian. I’m sure Mike wouldn’t really appreciate me comparing him to Kim Kardashian, but for the sake of “science,” he’ll be fine. His body type is tall and well developed, his weight is low but dense, and his skin is smooth, cold and thin. He is a combination of air, earth, and water qualities, where I am a combination of air and fire qualities. The nature of a Vata person is very adaptable, like air, which we both share. The nature of a Pitta person is penetrating (think of George Clooney’s eyes), critical and intelligent, this isn’t to say Vata and Kapha people don't have these qualities, it’s just more evident in Pitta types. The nature of a Kapha person is that they are typically very steady and slow, which is totally not me, and all Mike. I may move slowly in my workouts and yoga classes, but my overall nature is pretty quickly moving and swift, like air. Mike is very grounded and certain, like earth. The way I am explaining the doshas is by no means 100% accurate, and someone out there is probably criticizing me for using Kim K to explain an ancient Indian science, but that’s okay!
If the study of Ayurveda were as deep as the ocean, I’d still be on the very top, close to the shore, floating on a pink blow up bed. It is so incredibly dense and deep, but like anything, the more you learn about it, the more it starts to make sense. Start to experiment with guessing what you think your own Prakriti is. Or my favorite pastime, try to guess what certain celebrities’ Prakritis are. It’s important to understand that a person’s Prakriti goes even further beyond their external qualities. Remember not to judge or try to look for a certain outcome, do your best to view yourself and others from a scientific standpoint. Think about what the qualities of air, fire, earth and water may look like in a person. This is one of the first steps you can take towards understanding Ayurveda.