AYURVEDA AND YOGA - Ancient Sisters
By: Jennifer Beckman
I am sure most of you reading this go to a yoga class once or twice a week or know of someone who does. It’s the new fad, like Starbucks, there is a yoga studio on every corner. But, more than likely what you did not know, is that Yoga has a sister called Ayurveda. Not as dynamic and in your face as Yoga, Ayurveda, quieter and more reserved has been waiting her turn for the limelight and for sure, that time has come.
Ayurveda and Yoga are essential parts of an ancient system from India called the Vedas. Ayur or ayus translates from the Sanskrit to mean “life”, and Veda is knowledge or science. Literally ‘The Science of Life’, Ayurveda is now emerging as one of the most important preventative forms of holistic medicine in today’s modern world. Ayurveda, like yoga, is concerned with balance. It offers a unique system of treatment, explaining true health of the mind, body, senses and spirit and their proper alignment. Ayurvedic practitioners offer lifestyle adjustments that include diet, herbal formulas, color therapy, massage, Yoga and meditation. They prescribe specific asanas or postures that help balance the energies in the body and mind. Our environment, our relationships, the food we eat, our work, the climate we live in, our faith and how we function within our own small universe is of great importance for this will determine our state of physical, mental and spiritual happiness and fulfillment.
Energy and vibration are the basis of Ayurveda. The universe is made up of pulsating energies, cosmic elements that together, make all material creations. Everything around us, ourselves included are made up of these elements; earth, water, fire, air and ether that are constantly changing and transforming. Ayurveda categories these five elements into three doshas or metabolic types.
Vata is the combination of ether and air and has the same characteristic of these elements: dry, flighty and irregular. When fire and water combine it is called Pitta, its main characteristics are hot, quick and decisive. Kapha is the combination of earth and water: strong, slow and methodical. These three doshas are present in every living cell. They not only affect us on a physical level, but also on subtle mental and emotional levels as Harmony, Energy and Inertia. They influence all that we are and do. The choices we make and have made since the time we were born. In fact they make us who we are, unique individuals.
Every one of us has a dosha that is more predominant or stronger than the other two, one secondary and a third, which is much less prominent. This combination of the three doshas is determined when we are in the womb.
Four principal causes are responsible for an individual’s metabolic type:
1. The fathers metabolic type
2. The mothers metabolic type
3. The condition of the womb
4. The food and drink the mother takes before and during pregnancy
Our metabolic type should stay the same, but of course does not. Without knowing our particular type, inadvertently we cause disharmony by eating the wrong things, doing the wrong exercise, even living in the wrong environment.
In Ayurveda, nine types of combinations can manifest:
1.Vata 4. Vata-Pitta 7. Pitta-Vata
2.Pitta 5. Pitta-Kapha 8. Kapha-Pitta
3.Kapha 6. Vata-Kapha 9. Kapha-Vata
Vata displays itself as a light, slim physical body, very tall or very short. The muscle tissue is not strong and the veins often protrude through the skin, which in turn is dry and thin, as is the hair. The hands and feet tend to be cold and there is intolerance for cold foods, weather etc. The digestion is not good and the appetite is not strong, consequently nutrients are not absorbed properly and constipation is often a problem. Vata, when aggravated, often causes insomnia and confusion. The hair is dry and thin; as are the nails and the teeth may be irregular and protruding. The voice is hoarse and dry.
Vata is mobile and produces the need for constant change, vigorous exercise and talkativeness. Vata produces a quick, alert and creative mind. The swiftness of Vata manifests in restlessness moving from one place to another, changing things and friends frequently. It causes a subtle feeling of insecurity, fear, loneliness and worry. Dreams may often be fearful. The memory is not long-term, but the capability to do many things at once is good. The joints are often unstable and a cracking of the joints can occur.
TOO MUCH VATA?
To keep that Vata energy balanced and happy:
Pitta displays itself as a medium physical body of average height. Throughout life, the weight of the individual remains pretty much the same. The hair may be reddish or blonde, and the individual may show signs of premature graying and a receding hairline or hair loss in men. The skin has a reddish hue, and is warm and oily. The eyes are bright, often green or gray. There is intolerance for heat, the face often looks flushed and there are many freckles and moles on the skin, with perhaps a port-wine mark on the skin. Pitta exhibits good physical strength and digestive power. The appetite is strong, as is the thirst, copious amounts of food and drink are consumed and elimination is good. Overheating means pitta is aggrevated and perspiration is prevalent, which emanates a sulfury odor. Pitta individuals can have a short fuse, and get angry quickly, but have a keen and alert mind. Their memories are sharp and they enjoy solving problems. The sexual desire is low in general, and the semen count is also often low. Pitta is perfection, competitive and controlling.
TOO MUCH PITTA?
To keep the Pitta energy balanced and in harmony:
Kapha manifests as strength, with a well-developed body. The bones are large with a tendency to be overweight. The metabolism is slow, as is the digestion. There is slow talking and slowness of actions. Sinus congestion, coughs and colds are all manifestations of aggravated kapha. The skin is thick, smooth, cold, oily and clammy, with a dense padding of fat underneath the skin. The hair is thick and curly and the eyes are large and beautiful with an overall pleasing appearance. The voice and complexion are soft with facial expressions of happiness. Hunger, thirst and perspiration are minimal. The joints are firm and compact, the organs plump and compact.
Although kapha individuals are blessed with constitutional strength, they shun exercise and would rather be sitting and daydreaming. They have a tendency to feel sleepy after a large meal and would love to nap in the afternoon, if they could. In fact, kapha induces long and deep sleep, often-sleeping 8 hours and more at night. Kapha people make wonderful parents, nurses and teachers. They are patient, compassionate, peaceful and forgiving and they love to hug! Their minds are calm and stable and they are generally well grounded. Their faith is strong and consistent.
TOO MUCH KAPHA?
Used in conjunction with one another, Ayurveda and Yoga, (with diet and lifestyle changes), culminate into the art of balancing the subtle energies within us. This allows our physical, mental and emotional selves to perform at their best. We feel good, see the world in a different light and can go on, if we wish, to develop and experience a deeper inner understanding.
Remember that most individuals are a combination of doshas, with two predominating. So the manifestations would be some of one dosha and perhaps a little more of another.
Jennifer “Yogamaya” Beckman is an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner with a storehouse of both academic Ayurveda and experience in dealing with people walking the path of “every day” life. She is the most experienced Ayurvedic practitioner to be found now in the world that specializes in clinical gem therapy. Together with Hamsa she helped develop the Balaji GL108 “Navaratna” Gem Lamps Medical instrument and uses them in her Ayurvedic practice on a daily basis with astounding success treating all sorts of ailments, both physical and emotional. She travels extensively in the Americas, UK and Europe and always with her gem lamps to allow her patients to experience this amazing natural healing tool.
A student of yoga for over 30 years she is a Hatha Yoga instructor with E-RYT 500 certification from Yoga Alliance, as well as by the British Wheel of Yoga in the United Kingdom. In Ayurveda she has studied with Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant lad, and co-taught with Dr. Frawley his “Advanced Yoga and Ayurveda” seminars. She is also a member of the International Yoga Therapists Association and Light on Ayurveda Educational Foundation. Her numerous articles on practical Ayurveda and natural healing have appeared in print magazines in the USA and UK, as well as in internet article databases.
For more information contact Jennifer at:http://www.vedicworld.org