Ancient and Innovative
Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga. Together, they provide a complete health care system. Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit words ayu (life) and veda (science of or knowledge of) meaning that Ayurveda is a comprehensive system of science designed to help us find the truest sense of wellbeing in our bodies, minds, and spirits. At over 5,000 years old, Ayurveda is the longest continuously practiced medical system on the planet. It not only draws on ancient knowledge passed down for generations, but also on new research and innovations, making it a most adaptable science.
Ayurveda is a largely preventative system of medicine. Have you ever felt “not quite right” for a few days, ignored it, thinking it was in your head, and then ended up sick? Ayurveda shows us how to stay healthy by bringing us in tune with our bodies, minds, and spirits so that we can recognize that “not quite right” feeling and attend to it before we get sick. By using food as our medicine and learning to eat, drink, rest, exercise, and play in the proper amounts, we find out that health doesn’t have to be complicated. As a matter of fact, it should be as simple as possible! Our goal is to become as self aware as possible so that we can catch when we begin to feel off and bring ourselves back into balance.
Elements and Doshas
Ayurveda is based on the principle that everything in the universe is made up of five elements: Ether (Space), Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. These elements come together in different proportions in your body to make up your specific constitution. The organization of these elements is broken down into what are called doshas, which are similar to the ancient Greeks’ bodily humors. There are three doshas: Vata (Ether + Air), Pitta (Fire + Water), and Kapha (Earth + Water). Once you know your particular prakriti (constitution) you then can find the guidelines to help keep yourself in a state of health. Ayurveda says that your prakriti is recorded at the time of conception, and that disease is the end result of living out of harmony with that natural balance. This makes the Ayurvedic approach to health very individualistic, as no two constitutions are exactly alike. Everyone has a blend of doshas that makes up their prakriti. It is rare to be only one dosha and even rarer to be tri-doshic, having all three doshas in equal quantity.
There are many simple tests available on the internet to help give you an idea on what your constitution is. Here is one from Banyan Botanicals, written by Claudia Welch: Dosha Quiz. These quizzes are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat, and are not intended to take the place of a consultation with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner; they will, however, give an indication of what your primary doshas are.
Tools of the Trade
Ayurveda provides many avenues to help you get and stay in balance. Food is the most important avenue. Knowing how to properly cook and use spices is the most basic and simple tool we have to stay healthy. Herbs are utilized when necessary, as are body work modalities, adjusting daily rituals (dinacharya) and seasonal rituals (ritucharya) as time goes through its natural cycles. Seasonal cleansing is also helpful, allowing our bodies to adjust to the changing climates of the seasons.
Veronica Wolff has been trained by the Kripalu School of Ayurveda to help you get back into step with your own natural rhythms. She is a member of the Kripalu Ayurvedic Practitioner Association and the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. Please see the Consultations page for information on available services.