Ayurveda: What Your Dosha Can Say About You

Ayuvedic tea

Health fads may come and go. But you can’t really argue with a mind-body health system that’s been around, so it’s said, for up to 5,000 years, when Indian monks were seeking new ways to be healthy. (For translation purposes, ‘ayur’ means life force, or vital energy, while ‘veda’ means science.)

Now, I’d always been interested in Ayurveda – in a magazine-reader-fun-questionnaire sort of way. You’ve probably done one yourself: answered a list of questions asking about body shape, energy levels, preferred foods, whether or not you tend to feel hot and cold, etc. I’d figured out that I was classified as ‘pitta’ – but never taken it much further than that. (Pitta is a ‘dosha’ – basically, doshas are your constitution. The other two are vata and kapha, more of which anon.) Read More…

Doing Too Much?

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At a yoga training course in London recently, the world-famous teacher mentioned in passing that her Ayurvedic Doctor is treating more patients with what’s known in the ancient Indian system of medicine as Vata imbalance. In Ayurveda, it’s believed we have three groups of personality traits which bring with them different sets of health tendencies. Put simply, when we’re in balance, all three work in harmony – when we’re not, we develop a ‘dominant’ dosha which may make us prone to illness.

Vata is the quick thinking, fast moving, chattery and creative side of us when balanced, becoming highly anxious, frazzled and worried when not. This rings bells in our 24/7 society – who these days isn’t frantically busy? And no doubt technology is contributing to this via constant stream of information via 24 hour news channels, Twitter and email on a social and work level, giving us that ‘switched on’ feeling. We get hooked on it. After all, who gets Brownie points for going home early, having holidays or taking a lunch hour.

This wired state is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system – the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism which keeps us on our toes, and ready for action through the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These are known as the stress hormones for good reason, as they are diverting our bodily functions into a state of alert – many things happen including a raise in heart rate, diversion of blood away from the digestive system. Of course, we need this in times of real danger, say, if we’re in a near miss in the car, or to meet an important deadline. The problem is, we’re more often in a false state of alert which begins to take its toll on our bodies. Read More…

Ayurvedic Beauty

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You can’t judge a book by its cover. But according to Ayurveda (pronounced AH-yoor-vay-dah) – an ancient form of medicine that comes to us from India – you can judge a person’s health by the condition of their skin. As Christy Turlington – long-time yoga bunny and co-founder of the ayurveda-inspired Sundari range – once explained to me, ‘We recognise that mind and body are intimately connected in terms of health and wellbeing. The skin is a mirror of what’s happening in the body.’ In other words, beauty is not just skin deep.

Agrees Pratima Raichur, a botanist, chemist and natural skin specialist who’s also author of a fabulous, inspirational book – Absolute Beauty: Radiant Skin and Inner Harmony Through the Ancient Secrets of Ayurveda (published by Harper Collins; find it on www.amazon.co.uk) – ‘External beauty without internal health is impossible.’ Raichur believes that the chemical ingredients in most beauty products don’t address what really causes skin problems. ‘They don’t fully nourish or rejuvenate the skin, and they don’t affect your mind,’ she says, explaining that in ayurveda, the aromas of essential oils are used to calm, cool or stimulate you mentally. (And Western medicine is starting to back some of these claims.) Pratima adds that the antibacterial and antifungal qualities of the oils themselves can help heal skin infections like acne. Read More…