Category Archives: Ayurveda Series

Ayurveda {5} ~ The History Of Ayurveda

Like other ancient traditions, Ayurveda was passed down orally and in the Vedas (philosophical writings) as early as 3,000 BCE. Ayurveda resembles Tibetan medicine and European medical practice that originated with the four “humors” of Hippocrates. They were: black bile aka melancholy (Greek: μέλαινα χολή, melaina chole), yellow bile choleric or angry (Greek: ξανθη χολή, xanthe chole), phlegm (Greek: φλέγμα, phlegma), and blood (Greek: αἷμα, haima). Each corresponded to one of the “traditional temperaments.”

In Ayurveda, these energies became wind, bile and phlegm (Vata, Pitta and Kapha).

Early Greek doctors/scholars were aware of medicinal traditions from Asia. The Christian Bible contains herbal advice, including herbs such as frankincense and myrrh, acacia, fig (Ficus carica), nard (Nardostachys jatamansi), hyssop (Origanum syriacum), balm of Gilead (Commiphora gileadensis) and mandrake (Mandragora officinarum.) Many Ayurvedic herbs and practices have been documented and shared throughout the world for thousands of years.

Ayurveda {4} ~ Ayurvedic Food

Just like there are three principle body energies, there are also three psychic energies in Ayurveda: rajas, sattva, and tamas. These three psychic energies align with the life cycle, with rajas being associated with birth, sattva with life and maintenance, and tamas with death and destruction.

Ayurvedic cooking focuses on creating warm meals focused on sattvic foods, meaning foods and ingredients that are ripe, fresh, and natural, that also promote overall gut health. When creating Ayurvedic meals, these are the core ingredients, the ones that make the majority of the dish, and which are recommended to be consumed regularly. Ingredients like meat, eggs, and onion are classified as being rajasic food, meaning that, when eaten too frequently, they may induce overstimulation and eventual stress and anxiety.

Ingredients by dosha ~

VATA

Eat more: Well-ripened fruit, cooked oatmeal, cooked rice, warm milk, cream, butter, warm soup, hot cereals, freshly baked bread, raw nuts, nut butters.

Moderate: Cranberries, pears, pomegranates, saffron, turmeric, kidney beans, black beans, red meat, wheat, barley, buckwheat, corn, dry oat, millet.

Avoid: Raw vegetables, unripe fruit, coriander seed, fenugreek, parsley, thyme, iced drinks.

PITTA

Eat more: Cold cereal, cinnamon toast, apple tea, vegetarian foods, milk, grains, and vegetables. Prioritize eating seasonally –– cold food in the summer and warm food in the winter.

Moderate: Red meat, coffee, butter, and added fat.

Avoid: Pickles, sour cream, cheese, alcoholic and fermented foods, egg yolks, nuts, hot spices, honey, hot drinks.

KAPHA

Eat more: Romaine lettuce, endive, tonic water, cumin, fenugreek, sesame seed, turmeric. Prioritize lightly cooked food, raw fruits and vegetables. Spicy foods in the winter. Dry cooking methods such as baking, broiling, grilling, and sautéing are preferable.

Moderate: Ghee, butter and oils.

Avoid: Sugar, fats, dairy, chilled food and drinks.

Ayurveda {3} ~ Treating With Ayurveda

When any of the three doshas are out of balance, symptoms can include bloating, rashes, spots, itchy skin, sore gums, anxiety, fatigue, excessive gas, and even a bad temper. This state of imbalance is known as “Vikriti.” Sometimes the balance manages to realign itself on its own, but at other times it needs a hand. When that happens, an Ayurvedic doctor will use the symptoms to identify which dosha is out of balance, then draw upon food and drink to try and realign it by choosing those that have the opposite qualities of the symptoms that are being experienced. It’s as simple as finding peace and quiet in the middle of a stressful environment (which would be a Vata imbalance), or creating meals that are right for your unique prakriti. Essentially, the idea is that everybody’s energy is unique, but addressing the unique makeup of doshas can lead to ideal health.

Ayurveda {3} ~ Maharishi Ayurveda {MAV}

Maharishi Ayurveda (MAV) is an alternative name given to the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health, or MVAH. This is also sometimes known as Maharishi Vedic Medicine.

Maharishi Ayurveda is an alternative approach to health and medicine that was created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1980s. A high degree of importance is given to the use of positive emotions, as well as to the role of the person’s consciousness, in their overall health.

The holistic approach that is embraced in MAV covers a wide range of practices which tie in with the lifestyle and philosophical outlook of many yogis. A yoga practitioner who understands their own body and how to look after it will be able to get the maximum benefit out of this approach to health by using it to shape their physical practice.

Ayurveda {2} ~ How Does Ayurveda Work?

Ayurveda is based on the understanding that the body has three principle energies, or doshas, and that each individual has their own unique makeup of these three doshas called the prakriti, which is determined at birth. The prakriti determines how our bodies behave and respond to everything, from stress to emotion and even certain foods. The three doshas are each responsible for certain interactions in the body, since energy is required for our bodies to function.

The three doshas ~ Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

VATA

Represented by air and space, Vata controls breathing, heartbeat, and muscle and joint movement. It also controls anxiety, fear, pain, and other nervous system functions. Individuals who have Vata as their dominant dosha are known to be on the go, but can be subject to imbalance from excessive stress.

PITTA

Represented by fire and water, Pitta controls bodily functions such as metabolism and digestion, while also governing emotions like anger, hate, and jealousy. Those who have pitta as their primary dosha generally have a strong appetite and are able to digest food more easily, but can experience irritability and anger more easily than the other two doshas.

KAPHA

Kapha, like pitta, has water, but is also represented by earth as well. It is believed to control the body’s physical structure, immune system, and emotional responses such as forgiveness, calmness, love, and greed. Those who have a dominant Kapha dosha are solid and reliable, generally able to hold onto jobs and relationships long after they are “no longer nourishing or necessary.” When Kapha is in excess, however, they are subject to stubbornness and resistance to change.