Yoga Retreats and Holidays can be life changing. However do you return feeling that you haven’t had a chance to even consider your diet? You have practiced yoga asana, the breathing techniques and meditation but haven’t been told by your yoga host how to balance our diet. Here’s an introduction to Ayurveda to help keep everything in balance;
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian philosophy of health and wellbeing. It means the ‘art of living wisely.’ In simple terms, Ayurveda is a holistic system which guides us so that we can live a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. It recognises that we are all unique and focuses on food, lifestyle, massage, yoga and herbal remedies to suit our individual make-up.
Where did it come from?
Ayurveda is timeless – it has existed for over 4000 years but yet it still applies to modern day life. The key to its longevity is because Ayurveda is logical. An early description given in the Charaka Samhita (the earliest Ayurvedic literature) written circa 150BCE-100CE says:
“It is called ayurveda because it tells us which substances, qualities and actions are life enhancing, and which are not.”
The wisdom of Ayurveda encourages us to take responsibility for our own health according to the different stages of our lives, the seasons, and the environment we live, work and play in. These factors all have a big impact on our health and it makes sense to adapt our lifestyle accordingly so we can continue to live in harmony with our body and stay at optimum health.
Ayurveda is all about living life to the full and keeping yourself balanced – whatever is thrown at you!
In Ayurveda we are said to have body-mind types, these are known as dosha and consist of vata, pitta and kapha. Eachdosha has certain attributes and describes our individual characteristics, inherited traits, our likes and dislikes and our tendencies.
Generally we are a combination of dosha but one will usually dominate. If a dosha becomes out of balance, which can happen for a number of reasons, it can effect how we behave and even our health.
Typcial characteristics of each dosha type:
Vata – types tend to be visionary, imaginative and full of creative energy but when they are out of balance they can be forgetful, spaced out, anxious and uptight. Typical vata problems are erractic digestion, bloating, anxiety or joint disorders.
Pitta – types are confident, passionate leaders, organised and perfectionists but excess pitta can make them fiery, snappy and irritable. Pitta people have a tendency to suffer from skin irritations, overheating, heartburn and ulcers.
Kapha – types tend to be loyal, kind-hearted, calm and full of love, but a kapha overload can make them lethargic, lacking in energy and a little overindulgent. Kapha types are prone to congestion, excess weight and sluggish digestion.
It’s important to try and keep our doshas in balance in order to stay on top form. It’s not always easy with the hectic lives we lead, but if we can learn what our body needs and adjust our lifestyle accordingly, it’s a big step closer to staying healthy.