As a student and teacher of yoga, Jodi was inherently interested in yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda. For years she studied on her own by reading books about Ayurveda and attending workshops, lectures and retreats. In the spring of 2009, Jodi completed an Ayurveda Counselor program at the Ayurvedic Natural Health Center in India. In 2011, she completed Dr. Robert Svoboda’s Ayurvedic Correspondence Course through the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico, USA. Currently, Jodi is enrolled in the Kerala Academy’s Wellness Counselor Program. In sharing Ayurveda with others, she integrates Ayurvedic principles and philosophy as part of the classes and retreats she teaches, and she offers foundations workshops on Ayurveda.
Ayurveda dates back an estimated 5,000 years and is thought by scholars to be the most ancient healing system in the world. It is also believed that Ayurveda spread from India and influenced other ancient medical systems. Ayurveda, a Sanskrit word, means ‘the science of life’– ayu means life and Veda means science. The principles of Ayurveda can be found in the Vedas, which are among the oldest bodies of knowledge in human culture. The Vedas are considered timeless, coming into written form about 1,500 BC. Before that time, the knowledge of the Vedas was passed down orally, through mnemonic verses.
Ayurveda is a holistic system, which views each individual holistically as a physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual being. Ayurveda promotes balance and prevention of disease, emphasizing that health is much more than being free of disease. In addition to being balanced physically, emotionally and mentally, to lead a fulfilling life, we must feel a sense a purpose, have a personally meaningful spiritual practice and experience a sense of internal joy, peace and contentment. Although prevention and maintenance of health is the aim of Ayurveda, when disease occurs, Ayurvedic medicine can help to restore health and bring people into balance.
The five great elements translate into three Doshas in our bodies, which comprise our Ayurvedic constitution:
• Vata – Ether & Air – Vata is the principle of motion and movement in the body, and is primarily concerned with the nervous system and controlling all body movement.
• Pitta – Fire & Water – Pitta controls the body’s balance of movement and potential energies. All of Pitta’s processes involve digestion or heating, this includes digesting food or processing mental theories. The enzymatic and endocrine systems are also Pittas domain.
• Kapha – Water and Earth – Kapha is the principle of potential energy, and controls body stability and lubrication. The tissues and wastes of the body, which are Kaphas domain, are moved around by Vata.
The Doshas govern all the biological, psychological and physiopathological functions of the body. When in balance, they safeguard the body against disease; when out of balance they can contribute to the cause of disease. The Doshas are responsible for the arising of all natural urges, preferences and propensities. They govern the creation, maintenance and destruction of all body tissues, as well as the elimination of waste products. The Doshas are also responsible for our emotions, including compassion, understanding and love, as well as fear, anger and greed.
Your Ayurvedic Constitution
Your Ayurvedic constitution, or in Sanskrit, your Prakriti, is determined at conception and is influenced purely by your parents’ constitution, any imbalances at the time of conception, as well as their emotional, physical and mental states. Each individual has a constitutional type, which is a unique make-up of the three Doshas. The word ‘Doshas’ translates as ‘that which can go out of balance.’ A Doshas is intangible, but each has specific physical, emotional and mental qualities and characteristics.
We are able to obtain balance when our doshas are in balance. For each of us, based on our constitution, ayurveda recommends living in such a way that allows us to experience physical, mental, and spiritual harmony within ourselves, as well as within our environment. We achieve this harmony through many practices, including by eating the foods that are most nourishing for our constitution, aligning our yoga practice with our constitution, and incorporating a self-care regimen into our daily lives.
Determining Your Constitution
There are many wonderful resources to help you determine your ayurvedic constitution. You can also meet with an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner to help you. Below are my favorite resources, including books and an online questionnaire, as well as the names of an ayurvedic doctor and practitioner I have consulted with in helping me to determine my constitution:
- Ayurveda The Science of Self-Healing, by Dr. Vasant Lad
- Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution, by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda
- Ayurveda: A Life of Balance, by Maya Tiwari
- Online Quiz *
- For panchakarma and other treatments: Ayurma Ayurveda Center, Goa India www.ayurma.com
*This quiz just give basic information. It is best to work with an ayurvedic practitioner or doctor to help determine your constitution.