And understand the nature or your imbalance.
The ancient sages of India, the rishis saw that the 5 elements of space, air, fire, water and earth are the building blocks of nature.
They “saw” that everything in nature is made of the 5 elements. They’re not of course just talking about the gross elements, rather they realized that these elements pointed to complex ideas and principles. That’s what makes Ayurveda so unique.
Space is the etheric form of matter. And it also purveys the idea of container because it’s the space that contains all the other elements. Without space, there would be no object and time. We’re contained within the space around us. Our organs are contained within the space in our bodies.
Air is the gaseous form of matter. And it also purveys the idea of movement because it moves itself and the other elements as well. It’s the air we breathe and it’s the gases in our bodies. Vayu, is also the movement of our nerves and thoughts.
Fire is the radiant form of matter and purveys the idea of transformation. It transforms through heat and light. For example, plants metabolize sunlight into chlorophyll, and carbon dioxide into oxygen. It’s the warmth of the wood fire. Our bodies are warm because of its metabolic processes like digestion. Agni is also the metabolism of thoughts and impressions, it’s the ability of our mind to understand, discriminate, and classify. It’s also the heat of an argument.
Water is the liquid form of matter and purveys the idea of flow and fluidity. It’s the rivers of the earth and it’s the rivers in our bodies as in the fluids in our bodies. Apa also indicates phlegm, mucus and fat. It’s also the sentimental aspect of our mind.
Earth is the solid form of matter and purveys the idea of stability, solidity and structure. It’s the earth and it’s the earth-like tissues in the body, our muscles and bones. It’s also the pragmatic aspect of the mind.
When the elements combine, they’re create Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas. This is how we identify our ayurvedic constitution or nature, called Prakruti and the nature of our imbalance.
Vata dosha is space and air combined.
Pitta dosha is fire and water combined.
Kapha dosha is water and earth combined.
The air element lends Vata lightness, while the space element lends Vata expansiveness.
People who have a Vata dominant nature tend to be long and thin with an oval face and a long neck. When Vata is in balance and the qualities brought by air and space are in perfect equilibrium, then Vata dominant people display traits like: bubbly, light hearted, enthusiastic, inspired, expansive, philosophical, with a quick mind, an ability to notice details, creative and artistic. However, when the balance is lost due to an increase in the air element, Vata displays personality traits that are symptomatic of excess movement: overly reactive, indecisive, impulsive, moody, distracted, ungrounded, nervous, worried, anxious and fearful, they become highly sensitive, ramble, are consistently late. They are the ones who will have symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation, dry skin (dandruff), insomnia, restlessness, anemia and pain.
The fire element lends Pitta focus and passion, while the water element lends Pitta empathy, and compassion.
People who have a Pitta dominant nature are characterized by their big appetite for food and life! When Pitta is in balance and the qualities brought by fire and water are in perfect equilibrium, then Pitta dominant people display traits like: perceptive, focused, productive and goal oriented, passionate, succinct, friendly, they make excellent teachers and leaders. However, when the balance is lost due to an increase in fire element, Pitta displays personality traits that are symptomatic of excess fire: aggressive, intense, judgmental, angry, critical, jealous, envious, abrasive, vengeful, and prone to burnout and functional symptoms such as burning indigestion, diarrhea, oily skin, rashes, red acne, inflammation and infection.
The water element lends kapha empathy, softness, while the earth element lends Kapha dependability and practicality.
People who have a Kapha dominant nature look very sturdy and strong. When Kapha is in balance and the qualities brought by water and earth elements are in perfect equilibrium, then Kapha dominant people display traits like: calm, sweet, gentle, dependable, empathic, and compassionate. However, when the balance is lost due to an increase in the water element, they displays traits that are symptomatic of excess fluid: physical and mental sluggishness, excessive attachment and sentimentality, lethargy, melancholy, stubbornness, complacency, and controlling and functional symptoms such as sluggish digestion, depression, sadness, obesity, swelling and excess mucous.
We have all the elements within us, but some are more dominant and lend us specific and unique personality, functional and physical characteristics.
Healing happens when we apply the opposite qualities.
When Vata dosha is out of balance, the imbalance is offset by applying the qualities opposite to cold, dry and light. For example, one remedy for excessive weight loss is nourishing foods. And one remedy for restlessness is a calming massage with warm oil.
With Pitta dosha, the imbalance is offset by applying the qualities opposite to hot, oily and light. For example, one remedy for burning indigestion is a cooling tea like peppermint tea. And one remedy for anger is a calm view of the ocean or meditation.
As for Kapha dosha, the imbalance is offset by applying the qualities opposite to cold, moist and heavy. For example, one remedy for congestion and swelling is dry heat. And one remedy for sluggishness and low motivation is rigorous exercise!
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Ayurveda addresses diet, lifestyle, sensory therapies, herbs and spices to create a healthy environment where healing can happen.
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