Ayurveda, Health, Health Education, Spiritual Journey, Yoga

Ayurveda: Part 2

If you missed Ayurveda: Part 1, check it out here.

In this post, we are going deeper! I discuss the fundamental theories on which Ayurveda is based, more specifics of the doshas, and how the doshas manifest in travel and digestion.

To better understand Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life, it is necessary to briefly spell out two integral theories.

Theory of Similarity and Dissimilarity

  • Like increases like.
    • When A is low, take A.
      • Example: When vitamin b12 is low, take vitamin B12.
    • When A is high, avoid A.
      • Example: When cholesterol is high, avoid cholesterol (e.g. animal products).
  • Dissimilar decreases similar.
    • When A is high, take B (opposite).
      • Example: When cortisol is high, take holy basil (adaptogenic herb).
      • Example: When dryness is high, moisturize dry skin.

Holistic Theory

In holistic theory, everything is derived from the WHOLE. There is a root cause.

For example, there is a root cause that creates the disease or change in health. Attention needs to be paid to the entire individual in the context of his/her/their life.

On the other hand, western reductionistic theory derives from the part, cell, or diagnosis.

For example, cellular changes create diseases. Diseases have specific diagnoses. Diagnoses have specific treatment plans.

Ayurveda applies holistic theory, and focuses on signs and symptoms, rather than diagnosis.

More About The Doshas

Recall that doshas are bioelements, or basic elements, that help a lifeform adapt to its nature.

Doshas govern the adaptations needed for homeostasis (balance).

Each dosha is expressed according to characteristics, traits, colors, qualities, functions, smells, seasons, times of day, and more.

Vata

  • colors: black, brown, gray
  • smells: turmeric
  • tastes: pungent, bitter, astringent
  • elements: air, ether
  • qualities: dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, and mobile
  • functions: stimulates, initiates, causes movement
  • example: circulation of blood
  • body systems: nervous, muscular, skeletal
  • body region: below waist
  • time of life: old age
  • time of day: evenings and nights
  • cosmic significance: destroyer
  • increases in: rainy season and summer

Pitta

  • colors: yellow, orange, red, green
  • tastes: acidic, sour, salty, pungent
  • elements: fire and water
  • qualities: slightly viscous and oily, sharp, hot, malodorous, mobile, fluid
  • functions: transformation, metabolism
  • example: enzymes, digestive fluids, blood
  • body systems: endocrine, circulatory, lymphatic, urinary
  • body region: trunk
  • time of life: middle age
  • time of day: lunch time or midday
  • cosmic significance: preserver
  • increases in: rainy season or autumn

Kapha

  • colors: blue, purple, white, light green
  • smells: floral
  • tastes: sweet, sour, salty
  • elements: earth and water
  • qualities: viscous, dense, heavy, slow, slimy, soft, smooth, greasy
  • functions: cohesiveness, energy reserve, support
  • example: fluids between joints
  • body systems: immune and respiratory systems
  • body region: head/neck
  • time of life: childhood
  • time of day: breakfast
  • cosmic significance: creator
  • increases in: winter, spring

Travel

When traveling, vata increases because of the physical movement between places.

As a result, it’s important to increase kapha, the opposite of vata.

Due to all the excess vata, fluids in the body may be displaced. Hydrate!

Realize that the body needs 1-3 days to adjust to travel.

The doctor who taught my certification course suggested taking cottonseed powder with water and consuming a liquid diet for 1-3 days.

For example if traveling to India, eat fruits and drink sugarcane juice the first several days before trying to adjust to the regional cuisine. Or better yet, just keep eating the fruits!

Also realize that in India, whether you are raw or cooked, vegan or not, you will likely have digestive issues. Do a parasite cleanse after your trip!

In addition, massage oil into scalp early in the morning or before bed upon arrival to your destination. This will help settle vata.

Digestion

Immediately after eating, kapha is high. This is when people want to take a nap after eating a full, heavy meal. Digestion happens with fluid enzymes in the mouth and stomach.

One hour later, pitta is high. This coincides with metabolic activity and further digestion. Pitta manifests as specific digestive enzymes.

Two hours later, vata is high. You feel energetic and maybe a little gassy. In the gut, bacteria break down food, producing wind (vata).

Stay tuned for Ayurveda: Part 3!

We will get into the factors that cause imbalances and what to do, as well as dive deeper into prakriti, or one’s innate constitution.

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