What is Ayurveda? How is it Helpful?
Ayurveda is an ancient system of Indian medicine which is considered to be the oldest traditional system of medicine (TSM). It originated in India more than 5,000 years ago 1. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means “The Science of Life”. It is a renowned ancient system of medicine that has flourished for ages to date 1. “Acharya Sushrut”, who is considered as the Father of Surgery is known to perform surgeries such as rhinoplasty in the 6th Century BCE.
Ayurveda = “The Science of Life”
Brief Introduction To Ayurveda And Its Applications In Day-to-day Life
Ayurveda has an enormous knowledge of natural medicine along with the theories of the intimate relationship between humans, nature and the entire universe. Ayurveda has its unique theories from the origin of the universe to the basic working principles of natural healing. The basic principles of Ayurveda form the back-bone of the most ancient medical science of the world. Here in this article, we will discuss the Tridosha theory of Ayurveda and its applications in our day-to-day life.
Aim of Ayurveda
According to Charak Samhita 2, the aim of Ayurveda is not only to cure the diseases but also to prevent them. According to Ayurveda, healthiness is characterized by a disease-free body along with mental as well as spiritual wellness. Ayurveda aims to achieve a healthy physical body along-with mental as well as spiritual wellness to attain salvation. Thus, Ayurveda is a holistic approach to life along-with being the most ancient system of medicine.
The Three Principle Energies & Constitution Of Our Body
Ayurveda believes that our body is governed by three physical energies, which are termed as Doshas in the ancient treatises. The “Tridosha” system is very popular in Ayurveda, such kind of similar system can also be found in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) 3. “Tri” means three and “Dosha” means energies. The three energies which govern our whole body are collectively known as “Tridosha”.
The three principle energies that govern our body or “Tri-Dosha” are listed below:
Vata – Air Dosha
- Vata is one of the most important Dosha of all three Doshas.
- The Vata Dosha is characterized by the following qualities 2:
- It is responsible for all the bodily moments and also aids in the functioning of the other two Doshas.
- The other two Doshas and body tissues are said to be handicapped without Vata Dosha.
Pitta – The Fire Dosha
- Pitta Dosha is responsible for heat and transformation in the body.
- The qualities of Pitta Dosha are as follows 2:
Kapha – The Mucus Dosha
- Kapha Dosha is responsible for glueing body structures to each other and protecting the body from Pitta.
- The qualities of Kapha Dosha are as follows 2:
- The mucus produced by the body is nothing but the excess of Kapha Dosha being expelled out by the body.
These Doshas support our body when they are in equilibrium but they produce diseases when they get disturbed by external factors. So, it is very important to maintain harmony between the Doshas to remain disease-free.
Three types of Body Constitutions According to Ayurveda
The amount of each Dosha in every individual is specific from the time of birth 2. This makes all of us different. Thus, every individual has a different body constitution known as “Prakriti” in Ayurveda. Have you ever observed why some people are thin and some are too fat? The answer to such questions lies in their basic body constitution. According to the dominance of Doshas in the body, three main types of body types are described in Ayurveda 2.
Vata Body Type
Vata Body Types have predominant Vata Dosha in their constitution. They show the characteristics of Vata Dosha. The following are the characteristics of Vata Body type 2:
- Usually slim with bony limbs.
- Sharp memory.
- Anxious person.
- Good at performing fast tasks.
- Highly agile.
- Usually dry and rough skin.
- Cannot tolerate heat or cold.
- Irregular appetite.
- Difficulty sweating.
The Vata Dosha in the Vata body type person gets aggravated easily and the person may show symptoms of Vata related diseases such as Hypertension, Arthritis, Insomnia, Weakness, Restlessness, etcetera.
Therefore, the Vata person should follow a healthy regimen and diet according to Ayurveda to keep the Vata Dosha in balance. The following points should be remembered to avoid the aggravation of Vata Dosha:
- Excessive intake of light, sour, rough and dry food products should be avoided.
- Regular body Massages with different oils should be done to pacify the aggravated Vata Dosha.
- Food with qualities opposite to that of Vata i.e. Slimy, Heavy, Sweet etc. should be consumed to balance Vata Dosha.
- Excessive exercise should be avoided as physical exercises aggravate Vata.
- Winter is a Vata dominant season, therefore proper care must be taken during this season.
Pitta Body Type
Pitta Body Types have predominant Pitta Dosha in their constitution and shows the qualities of Pitta Dosha. Typically, Pitta persons have the following characteristics 2:
- Usually, physically fit.
- Sometimes have bright red hair.
- Warm body.
- Gets angry easily.
- Stronger sex drive.
- Lustrous complexion.
- Excellent digestive power.
The Pitta Dosha in Pitta body type person gets aggravated easily and the person may suffer from Pitta disorders such as Skin rashes, Burning sensations, Heartburn, Peptic Ulcer, Indigestion, etc.
The Pitta person should keep in mind the following points to keep their Pitta Dosha in balance:
- Excessive intake of hot, spicy, and bitter foods should be avoided.
- Perform daily body massage with cool oils to pacify the Pitta’s Heat.
- Grains such as Wheat, Barley, and Rice should be consumed.
- Alcohol, Wine, Beers etc. should be avoided.
- Dairy products such as Milk, Butter, Cheese etc. and other food products with cold potency can help to pacify the heat of Pitta Dosha.
- Make it a point to avoid excessive exercise.
Kapha Body Type
Next, we consider the Kapha Body type the best among the three body types when it is in balance. Often, we find the personality qualities of Kapha Dosha in the Kapha Body Type persons. Kapha persons have the following characteristics 2:
- Strong build.
- Excellent stamina.
- Soft and smooth skin.
- Large eyes.
- Thick hairs.
- Radiant Skin.
- Regular Digestion.
The Kapha Body type persons are prone to Kapha related disorders such as Excess weight gain, Fluid retention, Allergies, etc.
If you are a Kapha person, you should take care of the following points to balance your Kapha Dosha:
- Cold, heavy, slimy and hard to digest foods should be strongly avoided.
- Exercise adequately to pacify the Kapha.
- Stay warm by drinking lukewarm liquids.
- Take hot drinks such as herbal tea or soups to pacify the Kapha.
- Dairy products should be strongly avoided as they are well-known for Kapha aggravation.
- Pungent spices like pepper, ginger, mustard seeds should be consumed in the diet.
Apart from these three body types, people can also have any two Doshas predominant and Tridosha Prakriti is also found rarely. Thus, in total seven different types of body constitutions are found according to Ayurveda. Knowing your body type and following dietary and lifestyle regimen according to it will be your first step towards an Ayurvedic approach to life.
7 Major Constitutions =
Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vatta-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Kapha-Vata, Vata-Pitta-Kapha
References for “What is Ayurveda”
1. “Ayurvedic Medicine: In-Depth | NCCIH.” https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ayurvedic-medicine-in-depth. Accessed 19 Mar. 2021.
2. “Charak Samhita.” https://www.carakasamhitaonline.com/. Accessed 19 Mar. 2021.
3. “Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Comparative Overview.” 7 Oct. 2005, https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2005/629537/. Accessed 19 Mar. 2021.