THE BLOG
04/18/2012 05:25 pm ET Updated Jun 18, 2012

Ayurveda 101: 6 Ways to Enhance Your Health and Vitality

Ayurveda, the Eastern Indian system of self-healing, is translated as "the science of daily life." In other words, there is an actual science to the understanding and execution of one's daily routine that is designed to promote balance and overall wellbeing.

The system is based on three doshas -- three specific types of energy configurations that comprise all of life in the physical world. Since all of the information in Ayurveda is in Sanskrit, a sacred Indian language, the terms require an English translation. The three doshas are: Vata, which is air and space, Pitta, which is fire and water and Kapha, which is earth and water. Let's take these one at a time.

Vata

Although air and space sound like the same thing, they are really very different. Space signifies an emptiness, and air is what fills up the space. Vata governs the nervous system. Without it, nothing would move in your body. Vata is the only dosha that moves. It makes your eyes blink, your blood flow, and it is responsible for all those interesting and sometimes humorous (embarrassing) bodily noises. Vata primary people are small-boned, prone to dry hair, dry skin and constipation. They are also creative, fast thinkers and talkers, and occasionally a bit spacey.

Pitta

This dosha is fire and water, but this water is more like digestive juices, blood and bile. Pitta people are lean, athletic, competitive types and perfectionists. They are prone to infections, loose stools and burning disorders like ulcers and heavy bleeding. They are also very smart and quick-minded; they like things done their way and organized to their liking.

Kapha

Kapha primary people are voluptuous, like Marilyn Monroe and Angelina Jolie. All the classic beauties are Kapha primary. They have a tendency to put on weight if they do not work out and eat sensibly. Kapha crave sweet and creamy things, which can be their downfall. They tend towards congestive disorders such as excess fluid in the lungs and body, impacted lymph tissue and oily skin. They are the most compassionate and easygoing of the three doshas. They also have the most physical stamina.

Every person is made up of a unique combination of all three of these energies. As a matter of fact, anything that is living -- be it animal, vegetable or mineral -- is made up of these three energies. From an Ayurvedic viewpoint, life is defined as these three energies coming together, and death is when these three energies fall apart. It is essential to know what energy is your primary constitutional element, as well as your secondary and tertiary elements. Also important, in order to maintain optimal health and longevity, is to know your proclivity for imbalance.

The focus of Ayurveda is about achieving balance. This is accomplished by knowing what opposite energies to apply to your life and when to apply them. For example, Vata people crave dry, crunchy things, like salads made with cold, rough, raw vegetables. Because the Vata element is cool and dry, people who are Vata primary tend to run on the cold side and have a low digestive fire, making these salads tough to digest. Vata primary people are best served eating warm liquid-y things like stews and soups, or things with plenty of oil (ghee). Vata primary people are already too cold and dry; they need to apply warm and hydrating energies to balance themselves both physically and emotionally. In Ayurvedic terms, once the body goes out of balance, the emotions and mind are going to be affected as well. Vata people like forms of exercise, such as jumping and running, that will provoke the Vata element. Instead, swimming in warm water or doing slow exercises that build core strength would best serve them.

There is a law in Ayurveda called "like unto like." It means that you will be attracted to energies similar or related to your predominate energy. For a Pitta person, that means engaging in competitive or judgmental events. Pitta people like to be better than others. Pitta primary people make great engineers because of their fiery, cut through the problem oriented minds. Pitta people are perfectionists. They hold themselves to a high standard... and everyone else as well. Pitta people usually like alcohol and salty, spicy and hot foods. They want that martini or wine with fish, red meat, carrots, beets, tomatoes and dairy products. For balance, what they need are the raw cold salads the Vata people want to eat, with little or no meat/diary products. Their best forms of exercise are slowing down, yoga, using the balance ball, or swimming... minus the competition. Taking a shot glass of dietary aloe vera gel two to three times, spread throughout the day, is a Pitta person's best friend.

Kapha folks, oh, how they love their sleep. They enjoy being at rest and letting everything physically engaging take a back seat. Kapha primary people hate exercise and despise diets. Their motto is, "Salads are for rabbits." They crave ice cream, cookies, cake, potato chips, fried foods and fast foods. They prefer to kick back and watch the Vata and Pitta people run around and get everything done that needs to get done, because life is too short. What a Kapha primary person really needs to stay fit and healthy is to get up before 6 a.m. and start the day with some kind of aerobics, getting sweaty and getting the heart pumping. They should eat only citrus fruit or berries for breakfast. They need to keep moving, with not too much sitting, and not too many carbohydrates, like Pitta they are best served avoiding animal products as well. They need to avoid sweets and take those salads away from the Vata people. Oil is the enemy of any Kapha person; they already have too much: excess water weight and oily skin.

Ayurveda is not for the faint of heart or for those deeply invested in denial about their shortcomings and self-sabotaging habits. It takes dedication, perseverance and a willingness to change what you are most comfortable with. Knowledge brings power. Ayurveda is all about taking your power back -- balancing your energy by knowing what will resolve your present energetic heath issues and offer you a greater path for personal growth and happiness.

Vaishali is a' life management expert' and the author of Wisdom Rising and You Are What You Love. She is a columnist for the Huffington Post www.huffingtonpost/vaishali and an international health & wellness speaker who has appeared on The Dr. Oz Radio Show and Oprah.com. Vaishali learned to transform her life from the threat of two terminal disease diagnoses, domestic abuse and financial devastation. Completely recovered, she shares her wisdom @ www.purplev.com/mediakithttp://www.purplev.com/mediaki July 21st, 2012 10-4pm: Create Your Health Holistically Though Chi Nei Tsang & Ayurveda aboard the Queen Mary in Los Angeles.

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