Elaine Dodson Beauty & Health

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Ayurvedic Body Types

Ayurveda is the oldest holistic system of mind-body healing and health maintenance in the world. It is deeply spiritual in its origin. It began in India over five thousand years ago and is still widely used there. The word combines two Sanskrit words for “life” and “science” or “knowledge.” It is a complete medicinal system and emphasizes the importance of the mind in affecting the health of the body. Balance is a key concept. For your body to be free of disease, your mind must be in balance, and that balance will naturally extend to the body. This balance includes your diet, which is considered to be the basis of good health.

AyurvedaIn Ayruveda, there are three body types, called doshas: Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth).

You can easily determine your dosha through a simple quiz available at Deepak Chopra’s website, or in his book Perfect Health. Another book I recommend is Eat Taste Heal by Dr. Thomas Yarema. It contains a great deal of insight about Ayurveda and the doshas as well as transitional recipes. Knowing your dosha provides you amazing information about yourself that is invaluable in helping you stay balanced. In addition to learning which foods are best for you, you will also discover what exercise works best for you, how to get restorative sleep and how to develop peace of mind. Knowing your dosha will even help you in using specific aromatherapy oils to help you heal.

The three body types are determined by the size of your bones and body and by the three elements of air, fire and water, which influence your personality.

Vata doshas are thin or have a small frame. They expend their energy and are considered spacey because they are movement. Their element is air.

Pitta doshas have a medium build. They manage their energy and possess a lot of intensity as their element is fire.

Kapha doshas are heavier. They store their energy, are slower moving and are more grounded. Their element is earth.

I will use myself as an example: I am an extreme Vata dosha. Physically, I am thin; mentally I live more in space, always creating and thinking. I have bursts of energy that appear to be scattered energy and may last for hours, but then I may “burn” out . Vatas need more calming and grounding, so people like me do well with meditation practices and exercises like tai chi or dance that involve movement. My diet contains more warm, heavy and oily foods because they ground me. Of the six tastes in Ayurveda, the best tastes for a Vata are sweet, sour and salty.

Whatever your dosha, an Ayurvedic diet is a lacto-vegetarian one, however I teach it with or without dairy.Unlike most of the diets Americans were raised with, Ayurveda does not focus on fats, carbohydrates and protein, the basic building blocks of Western nutrition science. Nor does it emphasize calories or vitamins and minerals. Nutrition science in the West comes from the laboratory. Ayurvedic nutrition science comes from nature. In other words, your diet should be guided by your own instincts and knowledge of your body type.

Ayurvedic medicine does not focus on the elimination of symptoms, which is the focus of the allopathic medicine we know in the West. Rather, Ayurveda focuses on creating balance in your prana. (Prana is a Sanskrit word translated as “life force” or “energy.”) Eating a balanced diet, guided by your own instincts and observations of your body’s response to those foods, is a big part of how that balance is created. In the Ayurvedic system, grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, beans, herbs and roots are considered vital carriers and balancers of the body’s prana. When used in proper combinations with the individual conditions of your body, their power to produce and maintain health is evident. All Ayurvedic meals include all six tastes – sweet, salty, bitter, sour, pungent and astringent. Again, this is for balance. If one of the tastes were left out, then the body would develop a craving for it. That would put the person out of balance.

Because of its emphasis on food as prana enhancing, Ayurvedic eating typically produces positive health changes in addition to a feeling of satisfaction. Your entire body will respond to the nourishment that flows from the blend of food and spices that is right for your dosha.

At first Ayurvedic cooking may seem complex, but my goal here is to make it simple. Rather than jump into this with both feet, get your toes wet with one or two recipes. Watch how your body responds. Then venture into another one or two, and watch how your body responds. I think you will find that as you bring this consciousness of prana enhancement into your diet that you will notice an improvement in your health and vitality. That’s a big benefit for simply eating delicious food.

  Elaine Dodson Beauty & Wellness