Ayurveda originated in India over 3,000 years ago, so is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. The word derives from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge) – translating as ‘knowledge of life’. It promotes good health rather than the fighting of disease and is based on the belief that wellness is the harmony of mind, body and spirit.
Practitioners believe that people are made up of the five basic elements found in the universe – space (ether), air (wind), fire, water and earth. These combine in our bodies to form the three life forces, known as ‘doshas’ (or energies) – Vata dosha (air and space); Pitta dosha (fire and water); and Kapha dosha (water and earth) – which determine how the body works. Each of us inherits a unique mix of the doshas, with one usually being dominant. It is the balance of the doshas which determines the health issues we develop.
Vata dosha is regarded as the most powerful of the three. It controls everything in the body that moves, our basic bodily functions such as blood flow, breathing, heart function and digestion. Its main seat is the colon and can be disrupted by such things as grief, fear and eating again before your previous meal is fully digested. If Vata dosha is your main life force, you’re more likely to develop conditions such as heart disease, anxiety, skin problems and rheumatoid arthritis. People with the vata dosha have very active minds and bodies and are often on the go.
Pitta dosha controls the endocrine system, digestion, body temperature, skin quality, your metabolism and certain hormones linked to appetite. Its primary site is in the small intestine, then in the eyes, blood and lymph system. It may be disrupted by eating sour or spicy foods and spending too much time in the sun. If Pitta dosha is your main life force, you’re more likely to develop conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and infections. People with the pitta dosha like to do things which bring them peace.
Kapha dosha is the most stable of the three, controlling muscle growth, body weight and strength and your immune system. It may be disrupted by sleeping during the day, eating too many sweet foods and foods and drink containing too much salt or water. If Kapha dosha is your main life force, you’re more likely to develop conditions such as asthma, diabetes, nausea after eating, obesity and cancer. People with the Kapha dosha tend to be tolerant and pleasant, with calm tempers.
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