Understanding Ayurveda

What is the Goal of Ayureda?

To have a better understanding on my dosha (energetic profile) and explore how to balance my dosha to support me towards health and well-being.

How many of you are familiar with Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a sister-science of Yoga that deals with health from a perspective of relationships – our relationship to the food we eat, in accordance with our relationship to the earth and the seasons, etc.

The Doshas – read any article on Ayurveda and you are likely to see some mention of the three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

What exactly are doshas and what do they have to do with our well-being?

According to ayurveda, the five fundamental elements that make up the universe are:

  1. space (akasha)
  2. air (vayu)
  3. fire (agni)
  4. water (apu), and
  5. earth (prithvi)

These elements also make up the human physiology.

How do these elements work within us?

Look at the elements from the point of view of what they do in the physiology, rather than what they are — ayurveda describes three biological profiles/ constitutions/ or psychophysiological energies called doshas.

There are three doshas, called Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and each is mainly a combination of two elements:

  1. Vata dosha – is made up of space and air
  2. Pitta dosha – is a combination of fire and water
  3. Kapha dosha – is made up of water and earth

Each of these doshas is further divided into five sub-doshas. Together, the doshas create all the activities that occur within us.

The combination of the three doshas that you inherit at conception is called your prakriti or original or birth constitution

While it is not unheard of for people to have nearly equal proportions of the three doshas or just one very predominant dosha as their prakriti, most people have two doshas that are more or less equally dominant, with the remaining one less dominant

Thus, there are ten classic types of prakriti possible:

  1. Vata-Pitta-Kapha, Vata (where Vata is much more dominant than either of the two other doshas
  2. Vata-Pitta-Kapha, Vata-Pitta (where Vata and Pitta are the two major doshas with Vata being slightly more dominant than Pitta)
  3. Pitta-Vata-Kapha, Pitta-Vata (where again Vata and Pitta are the two major doshas, but Pitta is slightly more dominant than Vata)
  4. Vata-Kapha-Pitta, Kapha
  5. Vata-Kapha
  6. Kapha-Vata
  7. Pitta-Vata-Kapha, Pitta
  8. Pitta-Kapha
  9. Kapha-Pitta
  10. Tri-doshic

Of course, each of us has a unique doshic thumbprint, and an ayurvedic healer performs an ayurvedic pulse assessment to discover that unique doshic make-up and the exact nature of imbalances in order to recommend a very individual program (diet & lifestyle) for restoring balance.

For good health and well-being to be maintained, the three doshas within you need to be in balance. That does not mean they need to be equal, unless you were born with equal doshas

It means that you need to maintain your original doshic make-up or prakriti through life as much as possible to maintain good health.

Unfortunately, factors such as the dietary choices you make, the lifestyle you lead, the climate where you live, levels of environmental pollution, the work you do, the nature of your relationships with people and even just the passage of time can cause one of more of the doshas in your prakriti to increase or decrease from its original level in your constitution, creating vikriti or imbalance. If this imbalance is not corrected, you eventually lose your good health. That’s why restoring balance is the central theme of the ayurvedic approach to health.

While it is ideal to follow a personal program of balance laid out by an ayurvedic healer after an ayurvedic pulse assessment and a question-answer session designed to discover your precise needs for balance at a given time, a well-designed questionnaire can help you assess for yourself if you need to balance one or more doshas, and diet and lifestyle tips and herbal formulas can help maintain or restore balance.

Please note: The statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the information or products on this web site is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For medical concerns, please consult your physician. Before making changes to your diet or lifestyle, please consult your physician.

For more information on each of the three Doshas:

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A Balanced and Healthy Diet of Yoga

Yoga Teacher - James Bryan

Written by James Bryan

The dietary practices of the most stable population groups (transcultural) in the world have evolved certain recurrent patterns. Whole grains constitute the bulk of most of these diets and are consumed in the largest quantities. The ever-present legume, which is taken in approximately half that quantity, complements the grains, and together they provide the proper proportions of the essential amino acids. This grain/legume combination is the core of the meal, but the vegetables give it flavour and vitality. The amount of fresh vegetables which are consumed varies according to availability, included in sizable quantities. Generally, this means that they are taken in larger portions than the legume but in smaller portions than the grains.

In addition to this basic trio of grain, legume and vegetable, most traditional diets contain varying quantities of a fourth group of foods which includes dairy products, meat, eggs, fish, fowl and certain fermented bean preparations. This group might be referred to as the B12 group since all the foods included in it contain this vitamin whereas foods in the other three groups do not.

A small daily serving of raw foods constitutes the fifth group found in traditional diets. This may be fruits, though they are often regarded as a luxury. When in season they are generally taken separately, serving as a light breakfast or supper rather than a routine part of the meal. If they are absent, small amounts of some other raw food which can be easily digested is added to the daily menu.

List of the traditional five foods groups in order of quantity:

  1. Grains
  2. Legumes
  3. Vegetables
  4. Fruits
  5. B12

Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga follows this five group diet.

For yoga practice to be balanced it must contain all the eight limbs of yoga as handed down to us by the sage Patanjali in his classic the Yoga Sutras:

List of the eight limbs of yoga:

  1. Yama
  2. Niyama
  3. Asana
  4. Pranayama
  5. Pratyahara
  6. Dharana
  7. Dhyana
  8. Samadhi

We can reorganize these into five groups following Patanjali’s recommend sequencing:

  1. Philosophy (Yama & Niyama)
  2. Postures (Asana)
  3. Breathwork (Pranayama)
  4. Relaxation (Pratyahara)
  5. Meditation (Dharana & Dhyana)

(Please note Samadhi is a state of mind and is a result of the consistent practice of the preceding seven limbs).

List of traditional five yoga groups in order of quantity from Knoff Yoga:

  1. Philosophy 5%
  2. Postures 66%
  3. Breathwork 12%
  4. Relaxation 12%
  5. Meditation 5%

If we then compare the traditional food groups to the yoga groups in order of quantity in the diet / practice we have:

Food Groups and Yoga Groups:

  1. Grains Postures
  2. Legumes Breathwork
  3. Vegetables Relaxation
  4. Fruits Meditation
  5. B12 Philosophy

The modern trend in yoga is to focus almost exclusively upon asana. This is like eliminating four of the five traditional food groups and eating only grains, which will not allow for the development of a healthy and long-lived individual or population. We need to listen to the wisdom gained over millennia, from both the collective insights of the most stable population groups in the world, and our yoga sages.

With Knoff Yoga, we have developed a sensible and stable practice that honours the traditional teachings of yoga. This comparison of a balanced and healthy diet with a balanced and healthy yoga practice can give us insights to better our practice and well-being.

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