Ayurveda (pronounced I-yur-vay-da) is an ancient study developed in India well over 5.000 years ago. Ayurveda combines the art and science of holistic healing and medicine to create a prescription of nutrition, fitness, ritual and mind/body integration with the goal of providing each of us a balanced lifestyle, allowing us to achieve our full potential on this life’s journey.
I first became introduced to Ayurveda a few years back when I attended a workshop on the basics of Ayurveda and how I could apply its principles to my massage practice. That brief encounter with Ayurveda’s philosophies and treatments set me on a path of study ever since. From that day forward, I have used the tools of Ayurveda to create more meaningful massage treatments, nutritional and fitness trainings, and life coaching for my clients. Ayurveda has helped me create a positive energy “loop” of teaching and feedback, because the application of Ayurvedic principles is so deeply personal that my clients see the benefits of Ayurvedic healing straightaway.
Two words, in my view, are essential to the practice of Ayurveda for the client. These terms help us to create lifestyle “prescriptions” for well-being. Those words are “Dosha” and Sadhana.” “Dosha” is a summary of our innate character: body, mind, and spirit. Ayurveda recognizes and appreciates the unique inherent make-up each of us has. The word “Sadhana” loosely means “routine.” So we take our Dosha, and then we develop Sadhana practice to facilitate a way of living that seeks to enhance our positive qualities while addressing our imbalances to create a life of intention and highest purpose.
There are three Doshas according to Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
- Vata — Physically slender and underdeveloped with dry frizzy hair, dark small eyes, and suffering from such ailments as arthritis, Vata nonetheless is full of energy, creativity, and curiosity. Vata’s highly active “monkey mind” needs focus and persistence to be successful, or else others find Vata to be unreliable and scattered.
- Pitta — A natural athlete and well-built, Pitta has light and red hair with fair complexion and light eyes. Pitta suffers from indigestion and digestive ailments. Pitta is strong-willed, forceful and a natural leader. Hot-tempered, Pitta can be abrasive and lack patience. Pitta’s use of meditation can help to balance the Dosha.
- Kapha — Tending toward overweight or obesity, Kapha has gleaming skin and hair, with beautiful, clear, large eyes. Kapha is calm, loyal and steady. Kapha suffers from congestion and other ailments that reflect the “holding on” of people, places and things that no longer serve a purpose. Kapha needs activity, and stimulation to balance the inertia that tends to characterize the Dosha.
Knowing which Dosha my clients imbue, I can develop daily Sadhana practice to bring out the best healing energies to produce the results my clients work with me on. For example, I can create fitness Sadhana for my Kapha client to help with weight management. I can help Vata focus their creativity and energy to find a life’s work where they thrive and contribute. Or, I can work with Pitta to set them on a path of lessening headache, digestive upsets and anger issues. It’s as though Ayurveda has helped me become more than just a personal trainer, massage therapist or life coach. By truly using the wisdom of Ayurvedic healing, I can work with clients to make an upward spiral of energy and action.