Before modern medicine and science provided solutions to health-related issues, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, the science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). The guiding principle of Ayurveda is that what happens in the mind affects the body. The mind has the power to heal and transform the body. Ayurveda lifestyle helps us shape and control our lives. It gives us freedom from illness through a balanced awareness that goes from the mind to the body.
Every person has been given a unique blueprint by nature, called prakriti, or body type. Your body type tells you how nature intends you to live. Your body knows what is good and bad for you. Living in tune with nature means respecting your uniqueness. By knowing your body type, you can discover which diet to follow, and which physical and medical therapies can help you get healthy. The Ayurveda lifestyle allows you to take preventive steps to avoid illnesses and slow down aging, with specific practices designed to bring balance to your body type.
To find the deeper origin of your body type, Ayurveda looks at the meeting point between body and mind. Because, every time there is an event in the mind, there is a corresponding event in the body. This connection is operated by three operating principles called doshas–doshas allow the dialogue between body and mind. The three doshas are called Vata, Pitta, Kapha. Vata controls movement, Pitta controls metabolism, and Kapha controls structure. All three doshas are present in everyone, and they all need to be kept in balance. This test will determine which doshas is more prevalent in you. In some people, one dosha is clearly more prevalent; others can have two dosha types that are equal. You can read the book “Perfect Health” by Deepak Chopra to understand the specifics for each dosha.
The Three Doshas
Vata: Thin build, irregular hunger, and digestion, enthusiastic, tendency to worry. Vata people are unpredictable and their physical energy come in bursts. Vata’s most important function is to control the nervous system. When this dosha is out of balance, nervous disorders and anxiety may appear. To balance Vata, regular habits work well because this dosha often falls prey to overstimulation. Vata people benefit from rest and warm foods and fluids.
Pitta: Medium build, sharp intellect, precise, ambitious, tendency towards anger. Pitta people manage their energy, money, and actions efficiently. They can be irritable and demand perfectionism. When this dosha is out of balance heartburn, and burning sensations in stomach and intestine may appear. The key to balancing Pitta is moderation, cold foods and drinks, and exposure to natural beauty.
Kapha: Powerful build, steady energy, relaxed personality, tendency to obesity. Kapha people are slow at grasping information and taking decisions, and they are content. They are calm and like maintaining peace around them. When this dosha is out of balance, colds, allergies, and painful joints may appear. To balance Kapha, stimulation and regular exercise work well. Kapha people need to make a conscious effort to look for new experiences and reduce sugary foods.
So, What is the Ayurveda Lifestyle?
These are general guidelines. Every dosha has a specific diet that Deepak Chopra recommends in the book. Regardless of your body type, he recommends that you follow these Ayurveda lifestyle tips:
1. Follow A Colorful Diet
It is essential to nourish your body and eat with a sense of awareness. A simple way to make sure that you are getting a balanced diet is to include the six Ayurvedic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent) in each meal, so all major food groups and nutrients are represented in your diet. In addition to that, it is important to eat a variety of colors to promote a long and healthy life—foods that are blue, purple, red, green, or orange contain antioxidants and many nutrients that boost the immunity system.
2. Practice Restful Sleep
When we sleep, our bodies repair and rejuvenate themselves. If we do not dedicate enough time to rest and sleep, our bodies’ natural balance gets disrupted. Human beings need to sleep at least seven to eight hours per night. Restful sleep means that you fall asleep easily once you turn off the light and sleep soundly through the night. If you feel energetic and vibrant when you wake up, it means that you had a night of restful sleep.
3. Tune In With Nature
Following natural cycles means having healthy desires that match what you need, and nurture your life. When you live in tune with nature, sleeping and feeding your senses with different tastes, nourish you. Here is an example of a day in perfect rhythm following the waves of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—times are approximate and change with seasons.
Rising 6-8 AM
- Drink a glass of warm water
- Have a shower
- Have breakfast
Lunch 12-1 PM
- Have lunch (this should be the largest meal of the day)
- Walk to aid digestion
- Meditate in the late afternoon
Dinner 6-7 PM
- Have a moderate light dinner
- Walk to aid digestion
Bedtime 9:30-10:30 PM
- Light activity
- No reading, eating, or watching TV in bed
4. Tune In With The Body
The body shows signals of comfort and discomfort. When you make a decision, for example, ask your body, “How do you feel about it?” If your body sends a signal of distress, pay attention and consider a different choice. The body lives in the present, while the mind often lives in the past and the future. The body knows the truth and will guide you towards the best choices for you.
5. Strengthen Your Digestion
When the digestive energy, known as agni, is strong, our bodies are healthy. If agni is weak, digestion becomes difficult, and we accumulate toxic residue known as ama. The buildup of ama obstructs the flow of energy, information, and nourishment—and diseases might follow. Always sit down to eat, and do not eat in front of a screen. Do not eat when you are upset. Do not eat too fast. Eat plenty of cooked foods because they are easy to digest. Drink hot water. Find time to exercise. Meditate. All these activities and habits can strengthen your digestion.
6. Take It Easy
Ayurveda’s basic principle is to align with the power of nature instead of fighting and forcing things. Grass grows, and birds fly naturally—they do not try to do things that are not in their nature—nature works effortlessly and spontaneously. When your actions are motivated by love, things are not forced. But, if you chase money and power, you waste energy. Taking it easy means being able to let go and following your heart.
Feature photo: Greg Kantra / Unsplash