An Introduction to Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that is indigenous to and widely practiced in India.  The word Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term meaning “knowledge of life”.  Ayu means ‘life’ or ‘daily living’ and Veda is ‘knowing’.  


Ayurveda examines the physical constitution and emotional nature of humans, and encompasses not only science but spiritual philosophy as well.  In Ayurveda, the whole of life’s journey is considered to be sacred.


According to Ayurveda, everything in existence is made up of five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. These elements manifest in humans as three different energies, or doshas - known as vata, pitta and kapha.  Each person is made up of a unique combination of these doshas, which form the basis for all of our individual characteristics and preferences.  Throughout life, the doshas move in and out of balance according to your environment, diet, the seasons, climate, your age and many other factors. 


Vata people are dominated by the air and ether elements, and tend to be very thin with long limbs and can be either very tall or quite petite.  They are generally active, fast walkers and talkers, and busy thinkers.  When in balance, they are creative, enjoy meeting new people and engaging in lively conversations.  When out of balance, they can seem anxious, ungrounded, and experience mood swings.  They can be prone to insomnia, poor digestion, and poor circulation. Their light and airy tendencies can make them appear "flaky" when not following through on their commitments, or sticking to a routine, or seeing a project through to completion.  


Pitta types generally have a medium or moderate build, with fair or freckled skin.  Because of the prevalence of the fire element in their constitution, they can be strong-willed, intense and competitive. Pitta people are natural leaders.  When in balance they display intelligence, good verbal skills and are quick learners, mastering new skills with ease. When out of balance, Pitta people can tend to be "fiery", impatient, and judgemental.  


Kapha people have strong, robust physiques, and can tend towards gaining weight if not exercising regularly.  They love routine and do things slowly and methodically, preferring to take their time rather than rush.  Due to the influence of water and earth elements, their constitution is very stable, so they generally experience good health.  When in balance, they are calm, loyal, grounded and compassionate. When out of balance, they can be unmotivated, complacent, prone to procrastination and stubbornness.


As a healing modality, Ayurveda focusses on determining an individual's dosha and prescribing treatment to bring imbalanced doshas back into balance. This is done through diet, yoga asana and meditation, herbs, massage and cleansing treatments.  


To discover more about Ayurveda and how to simply incorporate its wisdom into your life, join us for Earth to Sky Yoga Immersion.  In this weekend workshop you'll experience yoga asana classes with pranayama and meditation to balance the five elements in your body; you'll discover your dosha and learn some simple techniques to keep you feeling calm and balanced; and you'll enjoy delicious home-cooked Ayurvedic lunches that will satisfy your tastebuds and keep your energy levels even.


Written by Nicole Walsh