Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga. It’s one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, developed about 5,000 years ago in India. Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge) that is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body and spirit. An ayurvedic approach treats each individual, taking into account his/her own unique psychological, emotional, and physical conditions. Imbalances in the body are identified and a personalized recommendation including diet, lifestyle practices, yoga, medicinal herbs, meditation and massage therapy are suggested to correct these imbalances.
It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential.
The 5 elements and the 3 doshas
Everything in nature is made up of a combination of the 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Ayurveda uses the 5 elements to help us understand the building blocks of all creation.
The physiology of the human being is governed by 3 main subtle forces which are made up of the 5 elements. These forces are known as DOSHAS. There are three doshas: VATA (air and ether), PITTA (fire and water) and KAPHA (water and earth). Every living creature, including plants, insects and microorganisms, contain all 3 doshas within them. In each person, there is an inherent balance of the 3 doshas which is determined at conception and does not change. Think of doshas as part of your genetic code or identification.
In order to keep a healthy mind and boy, it is vital that the Vata, Pitta and Kapha energies are maintained in balance. The purpose of Ayurveda is to bring these 3 forces in harmony so that together they promote physical, emotional and spiritual growth.
Knowing your dosha
To find out what your primary dosha is (or doshas, it’s normal to be a combination of two doshas – on the rare occasion you may even be tri-dosha), you can take quizzes online here or here. As each person has all 3 doshas in them at all times, and the energies of each dosha changes as the seasons change and even during various times of day (we follow the patterns of nature – we are nature after all), figuring out your main dosha helps you understand the strongest one that makes up your constitution. This is important because when an imbalance occurs, it’s often in our primary dosha. And we want to do that because imbalances can create physical or emotional pain in the body.
My experience with Ayurveda
I knew back in December that something was amiss. My skin had become both excessively oily and very dry, my hair was falling out like crazy, and I had lost my calm swagger and felt a little anxious and aggressive. After going to see my dermatologist and pouring over this amazing Aryurvedic Beauty Book, I couldn’t figure out on my own what exactly was wrong or how to fix it. So I booked an appointment at the Montreal Ayurveda Center in NDG.
Let me digress for a minute – on my trip to Bali in February I dragged my husband across Ubud to get an Aryurvedic consultation from this man in the middle of nowhere. As our we approached home the day we returned we noticed that an Ayurvedic Center was literally on the corner of our street. I was super happy about that, he wasn’t.
So on Saturday I met with Anita, the Ayurvedic doctor at the Center, and she gave me a very insightful diagnosis. Here’s what she asked:
- How is my relationships with my parents, siblings and partner
- How is the relationship between my parents
- The health of my parents and grandparents. Do they have any ailments. How did my grandparents pass away
- What kind of work I do. Is it stressful. How often do I exercise. What kind of exercise
- What I eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- What do I think about myself
As you can see, Anita really wanted a 360 look at my life before making her diagnosis and recommendations. So after all that, did I have an imbalance? You bet.
My Ayurvedic Prescription
It turns out that I’m a very intense person who puts too much pressure on myself. As a PITTA-VATA, my pitta is currently in overdrive and I’m risking “burning myself out from the inside”. The seat of pitta is in the stomach and liver, which means that when there is an imbalance there’s too much heat and acidity in the body. My liver is currently not running smoothly and it’s causing too much fire, too much acid in my system. I’m also anemic. So I’m on a mission to alkalize my body and get that liver functioning properly again.
Here’s what I need to do to heal and rebalance my system:
- Alcohol (!!!)
- Coffee (!!!!!!!!)
- Green pepper
- Less eggplant
- Fermented foods
- Milk, cheese, dairy
- Hot peppers
- Little oil
- Sour fruits (oranges, grapefruit)
- Oily nuts (cashews, pecans, etc)
- Cold food
- Slightly cooked vegetables (in the summer I can eat raw again)
- Soups, stews
- All greens
- Veggies: sweet potato, zucchini, squash, turnip, red + yellow pepper, broccoli, carrot, beets
- Fruit: Apple, pear, blueberries, watermelon, red grapes, small amounts of lemon and lime
- Spices: Ginger, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, coriander, black pepper (small amount), sea salt, oregano
- Grains and Legumes: Mug lentils, amaranth, white quinoa, rice, barley, tapioca, kamut bread instead of wheat
- Tea: fennel, coriander, hibiscus, green, a bit of mint only
- Cooking liquids: olive oil, coconut milk, ghee
- Nuts and seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, almonds. Only a few walnuts if they’ve been soaked first
- Sweetener: maple syrup
- Desert: dates, 1-2 pieces of dark chocolate only
HERBS & SUPPLEMENTS
- Aloe vera gel
- Florovit (liquid iron and B12)
As you can see, the foods prescribed are less acidic and will cool my overactive gastric juices. My prescription also includes some lifestyle adjustments:
- It’s all about routine: I need to eat and sleep at the same times everyday
- Eat at least two hours before bed
- Do 1 thing I love once a week. Something that pleases me (like dance for example). Not for competition but purely for enjoyment
- Accept myself how I am. What is mine nobody can take away from me and what I don’t have I don’t need
- No super hot yoga like moksha or bikram
- More balanced exercise routine (from 6 days a week to 4). Try to exercise in the morning and not lunch…not sure if this one’s going to happen!
- Express myself! I have repressed feelings that need to come out. If I can’t express myself at the time, I should write down what I’m feeling on a piece of paper and then tear it up afterwards. But it has to come out.
- When frustrated, take a deep breath in and exhale with the sound “Auhm”
- Rest my mind. I’ll be reinvigorating my mediation practice and going for relaxation treatments at the Center
- Be grateful. Think of one thing each day that I’m grateful for
I also purchased some of these beauty treatments at the Center and will be doing an egg white mask once a week!
The consultation costs $150 and if you can afford it I HIGHLY recommend it. If you have insurance you can get a receipt for seeing a naturopath. Fingers crossed that this will work and I’ll be feeling and looking better in a few weeks.