Ayurveda and yoga complement each other similar to diet and exercise. In yoga, we focus on moving the body with our breath. Moving breath with our body helps us move deeper into yoga poses and allows us to live a calmer and less stress-filled life. Yoga goes way deeper than just body and breath but I’ll save that discussion for a future article….. 😉
Ayurveda complements our yoga practice similar to how diet affects our exercise program. If you eat fast food every day, you’ll feel worse in your workouts and you won’t progress as quickly as if you eat a healthy diet.
In Ayurveda, we can enhance our yoga practice with proper digestion and lifestyle tools.
To define ayurveda, it is the science of life. It’s a personalized, scientific and holistic approach to living a healthy and well-balanced life.
In America, when we have dis-ease, such as heartburn, we pop a pill to reduce the symptoms. In Ayurveda, when we have dis-ease, we adjust your food to eliminate the underlying problem.
Ayurveda is an intensely personalized “prescription” based on your dosa, or constitution. Based on your dosa, an ayurvedic specialist will examine your constitution and give you specific diet and lifestyle recommendations to help eliminate dis-ease within your body.
Note: In Sanskrit, we spell it dośa. It is pronounced dosha. I will refer to it in this article as dosha to prevent future mispronunciation.
Your Dosha Prescription
There are three dosha- Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Most people are made up of two dosha – a primary and a secondary dosha. Very few people are tri-doshic (all 3 dosha) and very few people have only one dosha.
You can identify your primary dosha by taking an online quiz or visiting with an Ayurvedic specialist. NOTE: most quizzes will only tell you your primary dosha. On this quiz, notice which dosha is your secondary. You will have to add your email at the end of the quiz. If you don’t want to add your email then you can easily find additional online quizzes. LINK TO QUIZ.
Each dosha is made up of various qualities. You can see all of the qualities below. For example, Vata is cold, rough, light, and dry. Vata represents air, so whatever qualities you associate with air will describe the vata dosha. Pitta represents fire. It is hot, mobile, and sharp. Kapha is associated with earth. It is heavy, cold, oily, and dense.
Just by understanding your dosha and its qualities, you’re able to make nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Define Ayurveda in Your Life
Once you fully understand the three dosha, you can identify habits and practices that are causing dis-ease in your body. Dis-ease can be anything from poor digestion, anger, anxiety, lethargy, depression, heartburn, muscle cramps, etc.
Each dis-ease has specific qualities just like your dosha. For example, a hot temper is a pitta dis-ease because it has pitta qualities (hot, fire, fast). Lethargy is a kapha disease because it has kapha qualities (slow moving).
To eliminate the dis-ease, you reduce the qualities of the dis-ease. For example, if you suffer from dry skin (a vata dis-ease because vata is dry), you will avoid eating vata aggravating foods such as crackers (they are also very dry) and add more oily foods or practices. If you suffer from regular heartburn (a pitta dis-ease because pitta is fire), you will avoid eating pitta aggravating foods such as heavy spice. You may also want to avoid pitta aggravating practices like hot yoga. As you already have too much fire in your body, the hot yoga may aggravate your pitta and therefore your heartburn. Alternatively, you would add cooling foods and practices to your life such as mint or water activities.
There are countless examples of how Ayurveda affects the balance in your life. The best way to really understand Ayurveda is to practice with an ayurvedic specialist. However, if you can’t meet with an Ayurvedic specialist, simply knowing the qualities and your dosha will help you apply ayurvedic concepts to your daily life.
This is just a very SMALL way to define Ayurveda. Since Ayurveda is the science of life, there’s more to it than just the qualities. Future articles will deeply examine each specific dosha and suggest best practices for calming each dosha.
Define Ayurveda – The 20 Qualities
When we define Ayurveda, we see that each quality has an opposite quality.
Heavy & Light
Cold & Hot
Static & Mobile
Soft & Hard
Subtle & Gross
Dense & Liquid
Rough & Slimy
Dull & Sharp
Oily & Dry
Cloudy & Clear
Qualities of the Dosha
Vata – light, cold, dry, rough, subtle, mobile, clear, dispersing, erratic, astringent
Pitta – light, hot, oily, sharp, liquid, sour, pungent
Kapha – heavy, cold, oily, slow, slimy, dense, soft, static, sweet
To pacify or calm a dosa, reduce that dosa’s qualities and add the opposite qualities.
Discover ways to experience balance in all areas of your life at my Intro To Ayurveda Workshop.
- Identify your dosha and it's qualities
- Learn what foods best support your dosha for a balanced life
- Experience yoga practices and lifestyle routines best suited for your dosha
- Refine your digestion for a more comfortable life
- Receive recipes and learn how to cook for your dosha
Learn how to make ghee (the yogi's healing cure-all) and kitchari (the yogic "stew" for resetting oneself when out of balance).