Ayurveda began over five-thousand years ago in India and is an integral part of the Hindu belief system. Through following the guidelines of an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle, you can reach optimal health.
Ayurveda originally was recorded in the Vedas, the books upon which Hindusism is based. It is a part of the Upavedas, which include specific subjects such as art, warfare, health and architecture.
The word Ayurveda means “life knowledge” in Sanskrit. It is focused on the mind-body connection, emphasizing that any ailments that exist within the mind will translate to the body and vice versa. The practice additionally upholds that all elements existing within the Earth, also exist within you.
Elements from the Earth combine themselves in various amounts and forms within your body and mind, creating your Dosha constitution. These elements effect you spiritually but also physically. For example, as stated in The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda by Sahara Rose, “it sees air as the movement of gas in your colon. It sees earth as your body compositing fat. It sees fire as your metabolism breaking down your food.”
Ayurveda prioritizes digestion as the key to maintaining overall health. Your digestion is referred to as agni, your digestive fire.
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There are three Doshas, each a combination of two elements: Pitta, Vata, and Kapha. While you favor one Dosha over others, you possess them all in some amount and may find that one is more applicable to you physically and another mentally.
- Air and ether (or intutition)
- Regulates nervous system and bodily movements
- Vata Bodies: thin, cold, dry skin and cracking joints
- Vata Minds: over-thinkers, creative, anxious
- Fire and water
- Controls stomach and transformations such as digestion, metabolism, and nutrient absorption
- Pitta Bodies: medium build, easily gain muscle, oily skin that easily reddens, strong appetites and digestion
- Pitta Minds: natural leaders, focused, may become impatient with others
- Earth and water
- Regulates bone density, fat, strength, and stamina and provides stability
- Kapha Bodies: bigger builds, curvy, tend to gain weight easily, soft hair and skin
- Kapha Minds: loving, compassionate, reliable, can be possessive
To find out your Dosha take Sahara Rose’s quiz here.
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Living with Your Dosha in Mind
Now that you know your physical and mental Dosha, now what? Well, you whichever Dosha you identify with, indicates an imbalance. Therefore, if your physical Dosha is Kapha, you want to eat to counteract that imbalance.
A Vata diet should consist of warming foods that are easy to digest. This would include cooked non-root vegetables, cooked or extremely ripe fruit, most grains, well-cooked, pre-soaked legumes such as mung daal (or lentils), and should mostly avoid dairy but can consume moderate amounts, aiming for raw dairy.
Pitta’s should focus on cooling foods and have to worry less about digestion because they are already equipped with strong metabolisms. They can eat most fruits, vegetables raw or cooked, most grains and non-canned legumes, raw dairy, no dark meat, and Pittas should avoid lots of oil.
Kapha individuals need to eat foods that are light and dry. They should avoid tropical fruits, prioritize non-starchy vegetables, and avoid heavy grains like pasta. Kaphas can eat most legumes but should avoid dairy at all costs and eat only white meat and freshwater fish.
Kitchari, a lentil based dish, is considered the “chicken soup” of Ayurveda. It is extremely cleansing due to how easily we can digest it and is a great recipe to start with when beginning your Ayurvedic journey.
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For recipes specifically for your Dosha visit www.joyfulbelly.com
There’s So Much More
Discovering your physical and mental Doshas is immensely beneficial to caring for your mind and body. However, learning your Dosha and ideal diet is just the beginning of Ayurveda. It consists of countless other rituals and guidelines to bring balance into your life.
To learn the ins and outs of Ayurveda, I highly recommend purchasing Sahara Rose’s book The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda.
Cover image via Pukka Herbs0
Also published on Medium.