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Ayurveda – the science of life

Ayurveda is certainly having a moment! I see Ayurvedic wisdom popping up in women’s magazines

Ayurvedic wisdom

Ayurveda. The elements and the doshas

and social media sites, and it’s mentioned regularly on beauty products, but what’s it all about? I’d like to share some of the things I have learned about this amazing system for good health in my next series of blogs.

Ayurveda is a sister practice of yoga, and whilst it does have some pretty great beauty advice to share, that’s certainly not all it’s about! Originating around 6000 years ago, Ayurveda uses the natural laws of nature to help us stay well and in balance, living long and happy lives. Giving practical tips for every day living, Ayurveda focuses more on prevention rather than cure. The word Ayurveda actually means “the science (or knowledge) of life.

Each of us is unique and Ayurveda recognises this. We all have a particular make up, or constitution. We have a constitution that we were born with, which is what we are ultimately trying to maintain, and a day to day constitution, that we may need to tweak regularly to stay in harmony. Our constitution is affected by many things – the weather and the seasons, our diet, our lifestyle, what exercise we take, our age … Ayurveda gives us practical tools to counter these variables so that we can retain our equilibrium.

One of the main principles governing Ayurveda is knowledge of the 5 elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) and how they combine to form the 3 doshas (vata, pitta and kapha). These 3 doshas manifest in the body and form our constitution as mentioned above, and everyone of us has our own doshic combination. A fun way to start unearthing your dosha is by completing a questionnaire, there are many on line or in books about Ayurveda, but if you see an Ayurvedic practitioner they will take a much more thorough examination to discover your correct make up, as often it can be clouded by our lifestyle choices.

Once we know what our doshic make up is, we can then start to adjust our diet, lifestyles and even our yoga practice to keep it stable. It’s worth noting that the idea is not to bring equalise each of the doshas, but to bring them back to our original make up. This is what balance is in Ayurveda, and as we are all unique, we will all have our own Ayurvedic prescription for good health. For example a person may naturally have high vata, average pitta and low kapha, but because of food and lifestyle choices pitta has risen. This may cause symptoms such as irritability, indigestion and rashes. We would then look to reduce the level of pitta, not raise the vata or kapha or to meet the pitta.

By understanding the positive and negative aspects of each dosha, we can keep them in balance, allowing us to be well on every level of our being. We’ll look at each of the doshas in a bit more detail in the next blog.

If you know me, you will know that I am a huge advocate of Ayurveda, which I immersed myself in completely following a period of quite serious ill health. I owe much to Ayurvedic wisdom and my Ayurvedic GP, without whom I would not have healed so quickly, stayed so well or been able to stay off steroids and other medications prescribed to me.  In fact, I am now such a fan of this ancient wisdom that I want to share it with everyone – so I’ve asked my Ayurvedic practitioner to come and run some workshops for us!

As well as being a Dru Yoga teacher, Dr Jane Fitzgerald was an NHS GP all her working life. When she retired she decided to train as an Ayurvedic practitioner, so she comes with that added medical knowledge that I have found invaluable and very reassuring.

The first of our workshops is on Saturday May 27th, 11am – 4pm at our Acanthus studio in Tingley, price £35. Janey will be introducing the elements and the doshas, and how they manifest in the body. I’ll be taking us through some yoga and relaxation to complement Janey’s teachings. Janey will also be available for private consultations. If you’d like more information or to book your place, then please do get in touch. Places are limited and only payment secures your place. I really hope you can join us, it’s a truly fascinating subject! Ix

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