Āyurveda is the ancient health and healing tradition of India. From the Sanskrit, Ayurveda translates as the “knowledge of life.” As such, Ayurveda sheds light on life’s every instrument of being, including body- mind- senses- emotions- and spirit. These instruments tuned and in harmony form the foundation of wellness for life to sing a song of dynamic health and optimal adaptation. Ayurvedic lifestyle and healing practices thus offer guidance to an individual in any stage of life or season, supporting the transformations inherent to a human timeline.
Understanding the innate qualities of an individual is at the heart of āyurvedic inquiry, which sees each person as a microcosmic entity, imbibed with the very same qualities and elemental processes present in nature. Just so, each of us is a unique composition of nature’s variables and actions. The qualities of nature take the form of physical, mental, and emotional attributes in the individual. Our most influential attributes become evident when we identify our first response to a stimulus. Our response may then be characterized as manifesting in one among three archetypal patterns. While each of us has the capacity to exhibit all attributes some of the time, most of us lean towards a certain pattern of response much of the time. When increased, these patterns become most noticeable. Cold, light, and mobile attributes (Vata pattern) can manifest as anxiousness with quick thinking and fast reflexes. Hot, sharp, and penetrating attributes (Pitta pattern) can manifest through impatient and critical thinking alongside strategic movements. Cool, heavy, and static attributes (Kapha pattern) can manifest as relaxed albeit slow contemplation together with steadfastness (or even stubborn attachment).
Combinations among these three basic patterns of being (plus many more additional attributes) undergo meaningful organization, coming together to form our personal āyurvedic constitution, or dosha prakriti. Determining our constitution, we can outline areas where attention and maintenance are required, as certain innate attributes create imbalances in the system when over enacted. For instance, do you know some already heated pitta constitution individual who delights in hot tempered discussion alongside a glass of red wine? The excess heat from both the behavior and the substance (wine has a heating quality) will take a subtle toll on the system, especially for one who has a heated constitution to begin with. The question becomes: how do the subtle qualities of food and behaviors affect the balance of our being as precursors to digestive, hormonal, inflammatory, and cellular dysfunction? Moreover, how do we recognize this and affect changes? Āyurveda elucidates this knowledge with the classification of all substances, emotions, and behaviors into their qualitative parts alongside their subtle actions on the body-mind-sense complex . This is a genuine tool for self-empowerment. With it follows a growing awareness of how our constitution is best supported or modified by our lifestyle, food choices, and personal interests as we adapt to seasonal changes over the year.
When knowledge and awareness come together, we begin to see how the subtle qualities of food, drinks, and even experiences influence us, directly discerning their effects. With āyurvedic principles guiding us, do we navigate the world of substance and consumption effectively, making thoughtful choices and diffusing disease provoking habits. With appropriate lifestyle practices, do we build the inner resolve to fully harness the potential energy of the body-mind-sense complex and live life in a dynamic state of health and well- being.