Yesterday’s post suggested that ayurveda is in fact not the name of a heavy metal band from Berlin, but a sister science to yoga. It is the subject of our blog for this week.
Ayurveda takes the ancient vedic perspective that Indra (god of air), Agni (god of fire), and Soma (god of water) rule the material world. Yoga and ayurveda share the tenet that all matter is energy (prana) manifest in the physical realm (primal elements that we can sense) and in mental mental realm (things that we think) through the three qualities of air, fire and water.
The human body, like the Earth itself, is ruled by these three qualities. In Sanskrit these forces are called doshas. Doshas are qualities of body and mind in form and function: how they looks, feel, move, acts, and feel. They are:
vata : air/ether (space)
pitta : fire/water
These are the expression of forces which cycle through us giving us birth, longevity, and eventually death. These qualities work together to find balance.
Each of us has our own unique and ever-changing mix of these three qualities, and the ability to balance them. Each of us has all of these qualities. We are born with a certain constitution, usually with one or two of these forces dominant. Our lifestyle choices based on our individual makeup can keep our bodies, minds, and behavior in healthy, natural balance.
To apply ayurveda, we need to first learn to recognize these doshas in ourselves. For example, if I look at my hand I see an incredibly dexterous system of joints (air and movement – that’s vata). I can feel some heat in the palm of the hand (think fire – that’s pitta), and feel the weight of the bones and flesh (that’s kapha).
When I feel spaced out, I know that’s vata. Burning desire, heated up with frustration, or even fired up to get something done, that’s pitta. If I am feeling lethargic, heavy or bloated, that’s kapha.
Which quality do you suppose dominates the function of thought and speech, and the nervous system? How about digestion? And energy storage? Yep, you guessed it, vata, pitta, and kapha respectively.
If each of is has an ever-changing mix of these three qualities, there are one or two doshas which may be dominant, both in terms of how our bodies are made and in our behavior.
By perceiving himself in these terms, a yogi can make informed and intelligent decisions on how to find balance through food and activity choices, and self-taylored practice. Ashtanga yoga is a very specific method that the experienced practitioner and qualified teacher can apply effectively based on his or her individual make-up.
Mysore style classes, the method Ashtanga was taught by Pattabhi Jois and the method we teach at Satya Yoga Studio, facilitates this individual approach.