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Ayurveda: An Introduction to the Timeless Science of Life

Whether your goals are to live a healthier life, align with nature, or progress on the spiritual path, Yoga and Ayurveda are your secrets to success.
Ayurveda is an ancient gift and understanding of the universe.

Ayurveda is an understanding of the world you see around you.

This understanding helps you maximize the quality of your life and understand the roots of your character traits, body type and mental tendencies.

The first time I got an Ayurvedic consultation, within moments, I had tears in my eyes.

The doctor had taken my pulse and without asking any further questions, listed off everything that was going on in my life physically, mentally and emotionally.

Suffice to say, that the knowledge of Ayurveda goes much deeper than you think.

How does Ayurveda fit into the understanding of the universe?

If you’ve been following along with the yoga philosophy articles, you’ll know that there’s much more to the world than meets the eye.

In particular, there are 5 layers of your existence called panchakosha.

ayurveda | Ayurveda: An Introduction to the Timeless Science of Life
Click above to read the full article.

Most articles on Ayurveda focus on the annamaya kosha or the physical layer. This means they talk a lot about food, herbs and routine.

In reality, Ayurveda goes much deeper than this into the energy layer of your existence and into your mind and tendencies.

To start to build an understanding of Ayurveda, let’s look at the foundations.

The Five Elements

The foundations of Ayurveda are the five elements that the manifest universe is made up of – essentially everything that you see around you.

ayurveda | Ayurveda: An Introduction to the Timeless Science of Life

The five elements with their qualities are as follows.

Ether (space)Clear, light, subtle, immeasurable
AirMobile, light, cold, dry, subtle
FireLight, hot, sharp, dry, subtle
WaterCool, fluid, soft
EarthSolid, gross, dense, hard

You can read more about the elements and the annamaya kosha here.

The five elements in Ayurveda make up the three doshas.

What are the doshas?

The 3 doshas are energies or energetic forces made up of a combination of the five elements. The doshas make up your body and the world around you.

The unique combination of doshas that make up your body is called your composition or prakriti – your nature.

Your prakriti decides more or less everything about you from your likes and dislikes, your physical features, your appetite, the quality of your mind and so on and so forth.

When the three doshas fall out of balance, disease manifests in the body and the mind.

The three doshas are vata, pitta and kapha.

DoshaElementsQualitiesFunction in the body
VataEther, airCold, dry, light, rough, subtle, mobile, clearEnergy of movement
PittaMostly fire, some waterHot, oily, penetrating, sharp, agitating, dispersing, liquidEnergy of digestion and metabolism
KaphaWater, earthHeavy, slow, smooth, oily, cool, denseEnergy of lubrication

Read more about the doshas and their qualities and roles in your life here, here and here.

Where do you see the doshas?

You see the doshas in the physical world, in your mind and in time. Let’s explore each of these in turn.

The doshas in your body and environment

As mentioned above, your body is made up of the 3 doshas. Your prakriti is your nature: the qualities you will learn about when reading about prakriti are the qualities that you possess when your doshas are in balance.

Vikruti is the state of your doshas at this very moment. This takes into account imbalances because of diet and routine as well as seasonal and age effects.

Food also possesses qualities that are linked to the doshas.

As the entire universe around you is composed of the 5 elements, it goes without saying that food and other substances have inherent qualities.

ayurveda | Ayurveda: An Introduction to the Timeless Science of Life

This is relevant to you because, based on your composition or prakriti, certain foods, climates and situations will be favourable or unfavourable to you.

You can read more about prakriti and vikruti here.

The doshas and your mind

To a spiritual practitioner and anyone trying to manage their mind and emotions, this part of Ayurveda is particularly interesting.

In Ayurveda, health lies in balance: balance of the mind, body and emotions. An imbalance in any one of these three things leads to an imbalance in the other two.

Similarly, an imbalance in your doshas manifests in the body, mind and emotions.

DoshaMental signs of imbalanceBodily Symptoms of Imbalance
VataAnxiety, nervousness, fear, loneliness, insecurity, hyperactivity, confusion, racing mind, interrupted sleep, fear of commitment, forgetfulnessExcessive gas, bloating, constipation, dry skin, split ends, cracking skin, cold hands and feet, eczema, cracking or pain in the joints, heart palpitations, insomnia, and more
PittaPerfectionism, discontentment, irritability, impatience, judgement, criticism, jealousy, hostility, rage, obsessive-compulsive behaviours, depressionIntense hunger, excessive thirst, acid reflux, heartburn, low blood sugar, skin rash, acne, increased sun sensitivity, hemorrhage, melanoma, burning, red or bloodshot eyes, hair loss, dizziness, poor vision or blindness, hyperthyroidism, chronic hypertension, and more
KaphaLethargy, drowsiness, sluggishness, excessive sleep, laziness, depression, withdrawal, loss of consciousness (diabetic coma)Nausea, excess salivation, indigestion, diabetes, anorexia nervosa, hyperglycemia, excess mucous, runny nose, congestion, chronic sinus infections, hypertension, cold sweats, weight gain, severely high cholesterol, leukemia, heaviness in the eyes, and more

There are scales of imbalance from mild to severe. When left unchecked, any imbalance can lead to disease and poor quality of life.

The doshas in time

The three doshas are not static. They move and change with time. The concept of vikruti (your deviation from your prakriti at any given time) is proof of this. You are changing over time and so is everything around you.

As such, there are vata, pitta, kapha times of day, year and life. In each of these times, the qualities of the associated dosha are predominant.

Let’s take a look at what this means.

Times of Day

ayurveda | Ayurveda: An Introduction to the Timeless Science of Life
Vata: 2 – 6 am

During this time, the air is considered to be at its purest. The activities of the day have completely settled and the world is still. This time of day is considered to be best for spiritual pursuits as it is easiest for the mind to settle.

Kapha: 6 – 10 am

During this time, kapha is active. The energy is cool, moist and heavy. Waking up during this time will allow this energy to accumulate and you may end up feeling heavy and lethargic. It’s best to wake up before or early in kapha time. A small breakfast is best to counteract the heaviness of kapha and if you like to exercise in the mornings, you will have extra stamina during this time. Planning is also best done during kapha time as kapha is meticulous and thorough.

Pitta: 10 am – 12 pm

This time of day is when pitta, in all of its fiery glory, is active. The sun is at its peak and you have the most energy during this time. It’s wise to use this energy to get your most important tasks done. Your digestion is also strongest during pitta time and it’s best to eat lunch between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm.

Vata: 2 – 6 pm

At 2 pm, vata time swings around again and you may start to feel a little restless. The light and mobile qualities of air are predominant. It’s a good time to get some movement into your routine. Smaller tasks that don’t require as much brain power are also good to do during this time. Towards the end of vata time, you may start to feel tired. It’s a good idea to wrap up your work day by the end of vata time.

Kapha: 6 – 10 pm

When you think kapha, think of water and its tendencies of being cool, heavy and nurturing. This time of day is when the heaviness starts to creep in. It’s time to have a nice, light dinner and spend time nurturing relationships. Go through your bedtime routine and be in bed by 10 pm latest.

Pitta: 10 pm – 2 am

The fires of pitta become active once again during this time. This is when your stomach does the bulk of its digestive work. You’ll also find that if you have a tendency to work late (past 9:30 pm), you may activate pitta’s intensity and find it difficult to calm the mind enough to sleep.

Read more about the times of day here.

Times of year

ayurveda | Ayurveda: An Introduction to the Timeless Science of Life
Vata: early fall – mid winter

Fall is characteristically vata. This is when the seasons are changing and the cold and dry attributes of vata become more predominant.

During the fall and winter seasons, you’ll see that your body naturally wants heartier, warming and grounding foods. Nature provides a lot of root vegetables during this time to meet this need and counteract the lightness and mobility of vata.

This time of year is a great time to detox the body as the mobility in the atmosphere will lend mobility to the energies of the body and aid in the detoxification process.

Kapha: mid winter – late spring

Winter is a time when all of nature is resting. This is true of your body as well. The increase of kapha dosha shows up as heaviness in the body and in Ayurveda, like increases like. So, to counteract kapha’s tendencies toward lethargy and stagnation, it’s important to exercise regularly, eat in moderation and limit heavier foods.

By the time spring comes around, kapha will have accumulated in the body in the form of mucus and the body will naturally want to detox. Favour the astringent flavour and drier, lighter foods to aid in the elimination of excess kapha from the body.

Pitta: late spring to early fall

Pitta is the predominant dosha in the environment during summer. Days are hot and it’s easier to get agitated. Eat lighter, less spicy foods to counteract this tendency of pitta.

It’s also a good idea to drink more water and cooling fluids to help keep yourself cool mentally and physically during summer.

This is very useful blog with lots of Ayurvedic diet and routine guidelines.

Periods of life

ayurveda | Ayurveda: An Introduction to the Timeless Science of Life

Apart from daily and yearly cycles, the doshas can also be seen throughout your life.

Kapha: Childhood

This period lasts from when you’re born to about when you turn 16 years old. This phase of your life is characterized by growth of your physical body as well as all of your mental faculties. This requires an enormous amount of energy and this is fulfilled by the kapha qualities of structure, growth and nourishment.

Pitta: Adulthood

The pitta period of your life extends from about puberty (the end of kapha time) up until the age of 50. This period of your life is characterized by transformation and achievement. All the inputs into your system are transformed into a cohesive personality, then, that personality goes on to achieve things in the world. These are very characteristic pitta tendencies.

Vata: Old Age

The vata period of your life extends from 50 years of age to the end of your life. During this time of life, you will be naturally be drawn toward spiritual pursuits. You’ll want to share your wisdom, teachings and gifts with the world. This is beautifully aligned with vata’s expansive, subtle qualities.

Read more about the stages of life here.

Ayurveda as a system of health, wellness and medicine

Ayurveda is a comprehensive system that understands the building blocks of the universe. It’s the bottom-up approach to health that the western world is missing. Western medicine focusses a lot on symptomatic care and cookie-cutter diets. There are times when this is just not enough.

Ayurveda looks at the root causes of illness and treats that so that the illness will not return or manifest in another form.

Ayurveda’s thorough understanding of the physical universe makes it an extremely effective system of health and everything associated with health. This includes diet, routine, medicine, preventative care, surgery, you name it and Ayurveda has it.

One of the reason’s that Ayurveda is my go-to whenever I feel off is because it’s a holistic approach to health. Ayurveda’s goals are to bring balance back to the body and it does so by utilizing the natural medicinal qualities of food in conjunction with the body’s inherent healing capabilities.

Ayurveda does not waste time reinventing the wheel, it instead focusses on paving the road and making it easier for the wheel to turn.

ayurveda | Ayurveda: An Introduction to the Timeless Science of Life

Ayurveda as a tool for spiritual growth

The vast knowledge and deep understanding of the human consciousness contained in Ayurveda can be used to your advantage.

Whether your goals include living a healthier life, aligning with nature’s rhythms, or progressing on the spiritual path, Ayurveda is a critical tool that will help you achieve this goal.

Observance of the principles of Ayurveda will help you eliminate imbalances in your body and mind. Regardless of what your specific goals may be, this is the ultimate goal of spirituality.

The practice of yoga is done precisely for this purpose: to eliminate stagnant energy from the system and find balance.

The elimination of stagnant energy can look like:

And so many other incredible, life-changing benefits.

Together with the knowledge of Ayurveda, you’ll start to see positive changes in your mind and body very, very quickly.

So what are you waiting for?

Begin your wellness journey today.

Parm Saggu

Parm Saggu

Hey, I'm Parm! I help people who long for a deeper meaning in life but feel caged by societal expectations to break free, uncover the secrets of life, and forge a path to be the difference they want to see in the world.

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