I’m so excited to share this guest-post by my friend and colleague Richelle Jarell, an ayurvedic practitioner, vedic astrologer and spiritual soul sister-of-awesomeness! Want to explore new pathways to finding peace, balance and freedom in your relationship with food? Ayurveda is a GREAT resource to add to your toolkit!
Ayurveda is a 5,000 year-old system of science and philosophy originating in ancient India. The Sanskrit word “ayur-veda” means “The Science of Life.” It was devised as a system of holistic, natural healing, utilizing the principles inherent in nature to maximize health on all levels – the body, senses, mind, emotions and spirit. Its purpose is to prevent disease, and to heal and maintain the quality and longevity of life. Ayurveda offers a deep understanding of the uniqueness of each individual, and emphasizes how to treat the individual person based on their constitution. The definition of health in Ayurveda recognizes that if you take steps to balance your physical body, there will be positive effects in the mental, emotional and spiritual self. Conversely, if you take steps to balance yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually, it will provide positive benefits to your physical health. There is no separation of the physical from the rest of the self in Ayurveda, and there is an underlying belief that the body is able to heal itself when it is given the proper foods, rest, exercise and environment.
The Root Cause of Disease
“When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.”
Ayurveda treats the whole person, not just the organ systems involved in a disorder. It is considered a “living science” because it incorporates modern developments and techniques along with ancient wisdom. Unlike many modern medical techniques which focus on symptoms, Ayurveda targets the root cause of disease, seeks to uproot it, and applies rejuvenative principles to rebuild the body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda makes it possible to live your most vibrant life possible with its emphasis on living close to your true nature.
Ayurveda also states that the purpose of life is to know and realize God, both within and without. It includes the belief that the most basic underlying root cause of disease is our sense of separation from our original consciousness and from nature. According to Ayurveda, the sources of disease can be traced to:
- incorrect eating habits
- inefficient digestion
- a lifestyle of unrelenting stress
- a fundamental disconnection from nature
One of Ayurveda’s specialties is knowing how to recognize, treat and reverse chronic auto-immune disorders that allopathy often only treats with drugs, often ineffectively. There is a five-step unique cleansing process in Ayurveda known as panchakarma, which is recommended for people to undergo either on an annual basis to maintain health, or as needed to address chronic health issues. Panchakarma focuses on cleansing the body of unwanted toxins, and removing them safely and effectively from the body, using therapeutic techniques that have been in use for thousands of years. Treatments often include massaging the body with medicated oils, a restricted cleansing diet, hot steam therapy, herbal teas and treatments, and enemas using herbal oil blends and decoctions. An “electronic fast” is also recommended in modern times, where the use of cellular phones, televisions, computers and other electronic devices are discouraged so that the body can return to a fundamental connection with nature. Short walks and long naps are encouraged so that the nervous system is allowed a deep rest, and even reading books and newspapers is discouraged so that the eyes can rest.
The Five Elements
According to Ayurveda, everything in the Universe is comprised of the five elements:
These elements combine to form the three metabolic types, or doshas: Vata, Pitta & Kapha. When a person is balanced according to how their body type operates optimally, a person’s prevailing dosha will manifest itself in certain positive qualities or traits in a person. When unbalanced, those traits will be skewed or corrupted. According to Ayurveda, vital health is possible when you eat, live and treat your body in ways that are in harmony with your unique constitutional, or doshic needs.
The Three Doshas
We are all born with a certain balance of the three doshas, typically with one or two being dominant to form our own unique constitution. Over time, we typically will go out of balance in one, two or all three of our doshas. One goal of Ayurveda is to restore us to our original state of balance, whether that is as a Kapha, a Pitta, a Vata, or some combination of these three. Over time, we can accumulate an excess of one of the doshas in our system, and if not caught in time, it can lead to health imbalances or the diagnosis of a fully manifested disease. The beauty of Ayurveda is that it can teach you how to keep yourself in balance so that the disease process is not allowed to advance past a certain stage.
Vata dosha represents the elemental combination of space and air. A person with this dosha predominant is thin, quick, energetic, creative and optimistic when balanced, and anxious, forgetful and restless when out of balance. Individuals with this dosha are prone to physical qualities of dry skin and constipation. A Vata imbalance can show up as insomnia, an inability to establish a regular schedule, feeing cold all of the time including cold hands and feet, irregular and painful menstrual periods, tremors, and an inability to make decisions. Their creative qualities can make them good writers and artists, and they usually like to be on the move all the time. Their diet is typically irregular, often involving a lot of snacking, and they love dry crunchy foods such as crackers and popcorn. A diet consisting of a lot of raw, cold foods will surely cause imbalances in the Vata person, and they will thrive on warm cooked meals. Due to the air and space elements in their nature, they often become easily ungrounded, and they need to learn how to conserve their energy due to a tendency to deplete themselves.
Kapha dosha represents the combination of water and earth. This dosha is said to reflect the traits of resilience, strength and growth. Individuals with this dosha predominant are typically muscular, steady, calm, and thoughtful when in balance, and depressed, overweight, and complacent when out of balance. Individuals with this dosha are prone to physical qualities such as sinus and mucous problems, being slow-moving or sedentary, and oversleeping. Kaphas value relationships and often have many deep friendships. They have great stamina and they thrive in jobs involving customer relations, human resources, nursing, child-care, and physically demanding work. Exercise is the bane of many Kaphas because their earth qualities make them prone to being still. Kaphas love sweets, and their diet is usually rich in creamy and cheesy foods. They often will skip breakfast, because their digestive speed tends to be slower and it takes them a while to develop hunger again. They can also get stuck in their jobs or relationships and need to learn how to create more movement in their lives.
Pitta dosha represents the combination of fire and water. This dosha is said to reflect the traits of passion, intelligence and courage. Individuals with this dosha predominant are typically focused, ambitious and charismatic when in balance, and controlling, angry and critical when out of balance. Individuals with this dosha are prone to acidity, rashes, and heart disease. Pittas thrive in leadership positions, and they like being the boss. Entrepreneurs are often primarily Pitta in nature because it suits them to be in charge; they often find success due to their driven nature. They tend to over-schedule their lives, and often need to learn how to slow down to stay in balance. Pittas are your typical Type-A personalities and excel as business owners, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and athletes. Often when a Pitta is hungry, they get irritable and it’s not a good time to discuss any conflicts or resolve any issues. Feed them first, then talk! They often gravitate towards spicy foods and alcohol, with a need to eat very regularly at least three times a day.
The role of an Ayurvedic Practitioner is to show how unhealthy patterns in the mind and body are affecting health by creating imbalances in the doshas and to teach you ways to regain your health through the use of foods, herbs and daily practices fitting for your unique body type.
Ayurveda for Relationships
By determining your and your partner’s doshas, and whether they are balanced or unbalanced, you can gain insight into what makes you tick, how you’ll relate to each other, and what “hot buttons” you need to avoid in order to have a loving and amicable relationship. You’ll also be able to determine what qualities and strengths align with each dosha, so that you can stop blaming your partner and start appreciating what your individual gifts are.
There are no imperfect or wrong matches in Ayurveda. By knowing your dosha types, you can discover ways to align to your natural rhythms, and not only feel better physically, but relieve psychological stress and tension within yourselves. This can help build a healthier foundation for your relationship. After all, when we are in a relationship, we are dealing with essentially three entities: you, your partner, and your living relationship, which has its own needs to stay in balance. With Ayurveda, you can also learn strategies for:
- Increasing the connection and affection with your partner by understanding your individual communication style
- Easing tension and anger by knowing each other’s weaknesses and triggers, and how to work with them
- Intensifying your love by learning how to harmonize your behavior.
By discovering your dosha type, you begin to apply the nuances of balance and optimum health for your doshas in order to harmonize your relationships, as well as improve your health, vitality and mood.
What Does An Ayurvedic Consultation Involve?
A typical Ayurvedic consultation includes detailed questions about your health, diet and lifestyle, along with the rhythm of your daily routines. This may include questions about your heart rate, the appearance of your tongue, nails, hair, eyes and skin, questions about your daily diet, energy levels, elimination, exercise and sleep habits, and if you’re currently experiencing any health issues. From there, individualized recommendations are given for optimizing your health and restoring balance to your doshas. Very often, this will include an individualized herbal formula(s), specific foods to avoid, tips on improving your daily routine, exercise and sleep habits, and guidelines for improving your digestive function.
To download and awesome training on Ayurveda, or to book a consultation with Richelle, click here. Special savings of $50 off for Unlock Your Possibility peeps!
Richelle Jarrell runs a company called Inspired Soul, a global health and relationship mentoring company. She works with women and couples who want to create magical relationships and experience deeper love, vitality and health on a daily basis. Richelle utilizes the wisdom sciences of Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology and Yogic philosophy in her work. She is the co-author and publisher of two books on Reiki, and has taught Reiki throughout the US and Greece. She enjoys cooking Ayurvedic food, reading yogic literature and performing weddings. Learn more about Richelle at inspiredlove.com, inspiredayurveda.com and DateSmarterNow.com.