In the beginning, Ayurveda can seem like a lot of books with foreign words. But ultimately, Ayurveda is much more than that - it is a whole ancient world of possibility that can be brought right into our modern lives. Ayurveda goes beyond the "right" and "wrong" that most other diets adhere to without considering the elements and a person's individual constitution.
With Ayurveda, you don't have to become someone else through strict, starvation-type diets and severely austere practices. You can use the five elements to direct your daily practices toward balance with ease and alignment. Over time, it becomes easier and easier to create your own unique journey following Ayurvedic principles.
We Are More Than A Diet - We Are the Elements
We are a part of nature so our bodies and minds are comprised of the five elements—air, space, fire, water and earth. You can see and experience the elements just by walking out of your front door. The wind dancing in the leaves (Vata), the stability of a tree trunk (Kapha), the warmth of the sun (Pitta), and water as it flows steadily (Kapha and Pitta). These elements are mirrored in our own bodies: bones and dense muscles that create the stability of our body (Kapha), the waterways that transport blood and other fluids, the fire in the belly, agni, that transforms the food we eat into energy (Pitta), and the nervous system that stimulates movement (Vata).
Knowing Our Nature With Ayurveda
When we’re conceived, our constitution is shaped by a unique balance of the elements, ultimately known as our Prakriti. Our Prakriti is established at conception, solidifies at birth and then shapes us for the rest of our lives.
For example, if your Prakriti has more air and space elements, so if your dominant Dosha is Vata, your health challenges will probably be centered around symptoms such as constipation, very dry skin, intense anxiety, low immunity and susceptibility to colds with dry and painful coughs. Doing things like eating dry foods such as salads and crackers and traveling a lot will increase Vata Dosha and deepen imbalances. In this example, understand your dominant Dosha and doing practices like cooking warm meals and using oil and warming spices in your diet, slowing down and integrating more time for rest and reflection will help alleviate health problems. Opposites bring balance! By understanding the qualities of each element, it is simple to balance yourself on all levels.
The next step is understanding your Vikriti, your current state of balance. Prakriti, our inner nature, helps us know who we are at our very original core, while Vikriti empowers us to self-reflect and see where we are at in our health journey.
Invoking Your Inner Wisdom through Ayurveda
There are many ways to more deeply know who you are using the elements and Doshas of Ayurveda. These five steps will help you on your journey of self-discovery.
- Work with a practitioner to gain more insight into your Prakriti and Vikriti
- Understand the elements and their qualities
- Check in with yourself daily to observe the dynamic nature of the Doshas
- Align with your daily needs: eat cooked, warm foods in cold weather, slow down with a restorative meditation and practice gratitude when you’re feeling upset
- Be loving, patient and curious on your journey of self-discovery
All views and information shared here is only for the sharing of Ayurvedic knowledge. Please do not try or prescribe or take any of the remedies and suggestions here without talking to your regular, qualified doctor. Kottakkal Ayurveda and no other person associated with Kottakkal is responsible for unwanted side-effects or contraindications in your health.