Seriously though, I have come across the term ‘Ayurveda’ in many channels - dieting fads, alternative medicines, health supplements, meditation. Holistic medicine, a sister-science to yoga I read somewhere, a way of life pulled from some 3000-year-old book.
But what is it? What encompasses a state of Ayurveda, if Ayurveda can be a state?
Here are six points that I learned trying to write this blog. I hope this will interest you too!
Vata, Pitta & Kapha: No, they are not Father Christmas’s three lost reindeer, neither are they a type of bread you eat with your Indian food. These are the 3 types of embodiments called Doshas, one of which dominates our body and mind. Vata represents Space & Air, Pitta Fire & Water, and Kapha represents Water & Earth. Each one has physical and psychological characteristics which relate to us mere human beings, and to be in sound body and mind, one needs a balance.
The Doshic States: So I guess this answers my Ayurveda State question, it is a “Doshic State”. Try saying it out loud, it sounds very Slavic to me! There are three states here: Balanced State Increased State Decreased State So this refers to all three Doshas, and how they should all be harmoniously living within. Needless to say, the Balanced State is the sought after one. Increased State is when one Dosha is dominating the party, and the Decreased State refers to Dosha who is performing poorly. The whole practice of Ayurveda is to be in a Balanced Doshic State.
A meal in 6 Tastes: This here is the Holy Grail of diets. If we follow this simple rule, then we should be satisfied enough to live our lives in a happy balance - with motivation, enthusiasm, and appetite enough to maintain the desired weight goal. According to Ayurveda studies, we all have six different tastes on our tongue. Sour - Salty - Astringent - Pungent - Bitter - Sweet My question is why there is only one tasty taste? Do Ayurvedians not eat desserts? Each taste has a different effect on each of the Dosha, but if you just try to include it all in one meal, then you should be good! Here is an example that I created myself: Naturally salted (Salty) lentils (Astringent) with garlic (Pungent), served with pickles (Sour) on a bed of kale (Bitter), followed by chopped banana & honey (Sweet). Sounds Delicious!
Milk Straight from the Cow: Ayurveda believes that milk is a very wholesome food. I agree! Our mom always had a jug of fresh milk on the breakfast table, but then we had cows in the garden. Milk today can be disputed with how animals are being treated, but that is the subject of another blog. What we can do though is buy organic! At least we can know that the milk we are drinking comes from a happy frolicking grass eating cow. And if you have vegan tendencies, Ayurveda is OK with soy milk, almond, cashew, and even potato milk!
Suppressing a sneeze can cause shoulder pain! Ayurveda believes that you should listen to your body and not suppress what it wants to do. The belief is that it will make you ill. For example, suppressing a sneeze is said to give you shoulder pain, not going to the toilet will hurt your kidneys, not sitting down may cause you joint pain and so on. Although it does advise to moderate food intake, sleep, and sex... The aim of this is to balance your Doshas, the perfect balance being the optimal that one can be.
Fuel your Digestive Fire: I always believed digestion was how my stomach broke down foods, and when unable to do so, sent up a wave of hot sticky bile, causing heartburn. Ayurveda believes that we have a Digestive Fire which nourishes not just our intestinal functioning but also emotional and sensory information that we ingest. A lot of the advice given is about good eating habits, like concentrating on your food while eating, and not the TV; not eating on the go, not eating when not hungry and so on. There are other ways to fuel your digestive fire, with meditation, oily self-massages, detoxifying herbs like ashwagandha, the meal with 6 tastes, and, my personal favorite, drinking hot water with ginger throughout the day.
Overall I think Ayurveda is very interesting as an ‘alternative medicine’. To be diagnosed and treated by an Ayurvedic doctor one must be completely assessed to discover how there is an imbalance. They don’t check only your physical health, but also your mental health and personality. Possible treatments vary from Purification, Pacifying, and Nourishing. Ayurvedics strongly believe in regularly meditating, practicing yoga, maintaining regular cycles of sleep and work, and cleanliness.