Beginner’s guide to Ayurveda: Everything you wanted to know

An ancient approach

Developed more than 5000 years ago in ancient India, Ayurveda – meaning ‘whole body’ – is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. The principals are built on the premise that the mind, body and spirit can be aligned by achieving a state of balance.

According to Ayurveda, the universe is made up of five elements: space (Akash), air Vayu), fire (Agnil) water (Jal), and earth (Prithvia) and these combine in the human body to form the three life forces, or energies, known as doshas. They are Vata (space and air), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth.) In Ayurvedic terms, all humans have elements of all three doshas in they constitution but in unique proportions where once dosha is usually predominant.


While your own dosha is often a mix of types, one is usually more prominent. An Ayurvedic doctor can confirm this through a detailed consultation, but here are some of the most prominent features:


Physical: Taller or shorter than average, thin in build and have difficulty maintaining weight. Dry skin and scalp. Light sleepers. Overall they are physically energetic and enjoy speed, motion and aerobic activity.

Mental: Quick and agile thinkers with minds that often wander. They often have negative images of themselves and fear is their first reaction to anything new or strange. Prone to worry and anxiety. They are commonly rebels.

Health Concerns: Constipation and bloating are common, as are general aches, pains and injuries.

Diet: Stick to warm, freshly prepared food and streer clear of raw, unripe or cold food. Avoid spicy, bitter and astringent tastes in favor of sweet, sour and salty foods. Opt for hot beverages such as herbal tea rather than cold or aerated drinks.

Optimal State: Creativity and enthusiasm are hallmarks when the data dosha is in balance.


Physical: Average height and build with well-developed muscle. Sensitive skin prone to acne, freckles or moles. Sensitive to sunlight and heat, and often grey or bald early. Good appetites. They do not easily gain weight but are prone to hyperacidity and heartburn. Sweat easily.

Mental: Intelligent, perceptive and systemic, yet may be opinionated and judgmental. Competitive and goal oriented and are often great orators. Natural leaders but have a tendency to be aggressive and dominating.

Health Concerns: Prone to acidity, hypertension, inflammations, skin conditions and hormonal imbalance.

Diet: Pittas favor sweet, bitter and astringent tastes, and cooling and refreshing foods. Avoid spicy foods and opt for a predominantly vegetarian diet.

Optimal State: Self confidence and an entrepreneurial spirit are hallmarks of a balanced Pitta.


Physical: Strong builds with well-developed muscle and usually normal to short in stature. Given their large frame, it is often difficult for them to lose weight. Skin is thick and prone to stretch marks. Complexion is fair and bright. Hair is usually abundant and wavy. They have a low but constant appetite.

Mental: Emotional in temperament with a great capacity for love, devotion and loyalty. They require much repetition to learn new things but master them when they do. Better at completing things rather than starting them. Romantic and sentimental and do not like change.

Health: Prone to diseases that relate to excess weight and water including obesity, asthma, edema and congestive disorders.

Diet: Favoured tastes are spicy, bitter and astringent. Warm freshly prepared food, gently cooked, and predominantly vegetarian.

Optimal State: A calm and caring nature are hallmarks of a balanced Kapha.

Which one are you?



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