Ayurveda is the science of longevity. It's an elegant body of teachings describing those things that lead to happiness and those which lead to unhappiness. In this context, Happiness also means health; Unhappiness, disease. There are basic principles of wise living outlined in Ayurveda, yet the specifics of how much and exactly what, are based on your unique constitution.
Ayurvedic body-type is called, prakruti, which means, nature. Prakruti, like one's genetic inheritance, is determined at the time of conception. Ayurveda describes seven distinct body-types based on varying combinations of the five great elements. The five great elements--pancha maha bhutas-- are: space, air, fire, water, and earth.
According to Ayurveda, everything in the manifest world is made of these five elements. The variation in what we see around us is a reflection of the different proportions of these in all things. These elements combine to create three doshas, which are forces that have specific functions in our organism. The word, dosha, means fault, reflecting their instability. They move out of balance easily. The body-types are particular combinations of doshas (made up of elements, made up of qualities).
With a little practice, you can learn to understand your nature, its strengths and weaknesses, and how to live in alignment with your deeper self. When we live in synch with our nature, we feel happy and healthy. When we live out of sync with our nature, we decline, feel unhappy, and get sick.
Think of two dogs, a chihuahua and a lab. Which would benefit more from a five mile walk? The chihuahua needs exercise, for sure, but it's the lab that would thrive with a daily long walk, while the chihuahua would eventually wear down with that level of activity. If we walked the lab around the block, and took the chihuahua out for 5 miles, neither would flourish, and both would show signs of stress, one from getting too little exercise, and one from getting too much.
Understanding our strengths and weakness allows us to make the most of our gifts and understand our real limits. Understanding our nature allows us to eat, sleep, exercise and live in alignment with the strengths and weaknesses of our organism, our life stage, and our many environments. Going back to the example of the chihuahua and the lab, we understand intuitively that can't feed the chihuahua the diet of the lab, or vice versa, if we want either to thrive and feel well. It's the same with us. We need to understand our unique physiology to know what will support a felt sense of ease and happiness. We can't compare ourselves to others or look to the latest trends.
Learning prakruti is empowering. When we understand our tendencies, strengths and weaknesses, we can live into a life that suits us and supports us to feel our best. Everything we do, all our relationships, benefit.
Understanding vikruti, which means against nature, reveals what is expressing in an imbalanced way. When we understand what elemental qualities are in excess or depletion we can look for cause, and remove it. We can also bring in balancing qualities to restore us to our true nature. If we have been overdoing it, we can back off. If we aren't able to digest the foods we are eating, we can make an adjustment. Rather than look around at what the new trend is, we can look inside ourselves, feel the excess or depletion of particular qualities, and take action to restore balance.
Like increases like and opposites balance. Vata, Pitta and Kapha go out of balance in predictable ways based on their elemental predominance. Every quality has a balanced and imbalanced expression in body/mind and spirit. When we understand our symptoms in this way, we can begin to restore harmony easily. If we are chihuahua walking 5 miles every day and we are exhausted and stressed, it is easy to modify our behavior so that the effects of the exercise are building calm and vitality rather than robbing us of it.
Anything can be medicine and anything can be poison, it all depends on the context and the person being treated. This is where understanding your unique nature allows you to make better choices, choices that will build on your strengths and balance out your weaknesses. This leads to an organism that is calm and strong and a mind that is happy. When we follow health advice without understanding how to apply it to our particular body-type, we get into trouble. That's why the same superfood or herb, or workout routine that works for your best friend may not work for you. That's where, know thyself, makes all the difference.
I've created a very simple introduction to the doshas and ayurvedic body-type called, Your Elemental Nature. It's a 4 lesson audio course, with beautiful illustrated pdf accompaniments, that introduce you to each of the doshas. Each lesson comes with growth work that invites you to reflect on the presence of dosha and its qualities in your nature. You'll also begin to understand how imbalance in the doshas shows up as common symptoms you may have been dealing with your whole life. You'll also be introduced to simple things you can do right away to restore balance to your system.
This course is available anytime as a self study, delivered to your inbox each week for 4 weeks. The last lesson takes you through a self-assessment to determine your body-type, and links to a 1 - 1 discovery session with me for clarification/validation.
I'll be running this as a live course in June, 2023, adding in a live call at the end to answer your questions. You'll be able to go through the lessons each week on your own, and communicate with others taking the course in a private online forum. If you'd like to enroll for June 8th start, you can register here. Tuition is $96. Scholarships available.