Ayurveda is all about harmony. If we are in harmony we are happy. If we are happy we are likely to be healthy. Diet plays a big part in Ayurveda which too is not surprising. Almost all systems of health tell us what to eat and what to avoid. Ayurveda takes this concept a step further. Hardly any food is prohibited. What is unique about Ayurvedic concept of eating is it says certain foods when eaten in combination are good for some whereas the same food items eaten by someone else can be harmful. Not only that certain combinations of food can be equally harmful. Sounds confusing- well it is not meant to be.
The next thing is to figure out is what food has what kind of effect on what type of Dosha. Doshas are life forces formed through a unique blend of certain physical, cognitive and emotional characteristics. Three types of Doshas are described in Ayurveda – Kapha, Pitta and Vata. Their names suggest their characteristics and origins.
Vata is composed of Space and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water, and Kapha of Earth and Water. Hence those of us with dominant Vata will be quick thinking, thin, and fast moving. Pitta dominant will be blessed with a fiery personality and oily skin. Kapha ones will have a solid body frame and yet calm temperament. Doshas make us who we are- they change depending on what we eat, how we sleep, our stress level, our daily routine and so on. As Doshas change we change- the way we think, the way we feel, the way we respond to stress –almost everything changes.
Knowledge of how Doshas work helps us manipulate our health. We can all enjoy good health by making small changes in our routine or dietary habits without having to lean on expensive and sometimes harmful medicines.
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Charaka , father of Ayurvedic medicine recommended following habits for healthy eating nearly three thousand years ago- Believe me they are still valid:
- Eat only when hungry
- Drink warm water most of the time
- Eat food at body temperature.
- Completely chew and mix food with saliva.
- Fill stomach 1/3 fill with food, 1/3 with water, and keep 1/3 empty
- Eat a light breakfast, a filling lunch, and a light dinner.
- Agni (Digestive fire) is sluggish when we sleep and there is no point in straining the system.
Dr Rachna Kumar BAMS
Rachna Kumar graduated in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery from India and has continued to develop her skills by attending regular courses in the UK, USA, New Zealand and India. She has practiced Ayurveda for 20 years in New Zealand and England. She now offers specialist health and beauty services using Ayurvedic principles for women in Hamilton. www.ayuspa.co.nz