As Sure as the Sunrise: A Local's Guide to Ayurveda

There’s a new type of medicine on the block. Well, not so new, but likely new to you as it is gaining momentum in the Western wellness world. The name is Ayurveda and it is, in fact, the oldest form of medicine on the planet. You might know Ayurveda as the sister science to yoga (we offer plenty of introductory classes and services at Sage), or a natural medicine that originates from India, but there is so much more to be acquainted.

Ayurveda is a medical system founded on the principles of nature. It looks at how we would interact with our environment and how our health would be affected if we were stripped of our technology and devices. At the heart of its foundation, it recognizes we are a part of nature and the changes that happen, even if cyclical, can impact us as much as we can impact the earth. Going to bed or waking up too late, staring at a phone or laptop for hours on end, eating at sporadic times or consuming foods that aren’t seasonal are examples of ways we go against nature and often our own intellect. If its once or twice, here or there, it may not be a problem, but as we habitually ignore nature’s cues, we are likely to become unwell.

 Sage Apothecary. Photos by Anna Petrow

Sage Apothecary. Photos by Anna Petrow

Not only are we a part of nature, but we ARE nature! We are mini reflections of the big picture, which is comprised of five different elements: ether, air fire, water and earth. These elements exist in everything, but to varying degrees. This includes us. Like some peppers have more heat, you might be fierier than your friends. And you know how some seasons are drier than others? This is true for us, too. All of this is important because when we know how these elements are expressed, we learn about our own tendencies. It’s kind of like having a blueprint for your being. Or to use the Ayurvedic expression, it’s your dosha or your constitution.  

There are three different doshas and each is made of two different elements: vata (ether and air), pitta (fire and water) and kapha (water and earth). We are all of them, as they are also used to represent our biology. To say that you are only one is as if to say you are living without a nervous system, skin or lungs. However, most of us have a stronger expression of one or two. When you know your dosha, you have more insight into what foods (or even people) might be triggers for you, why you always get sick with a sinus infection or why the cold weather bothers you so much. You can also more easily identify your strengths, like why you’re such a good planner and organizer, but you don’t have a creative bone in your body.    

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Knowing your dosha can put you ahead of the game, still practicing the basics can be done for any type. Eat seasonal food and acclimate yourself with the changes in temperature as they occur. Keep tabs on the sunset and sunrise and make sure you’re asleep for a good portion of the dark cycle. Spend less time in front of your screen and more time in the light of day. Stop and listen to nature and embrace the great outdoors. And above all, strive to live as your most natural, truest self.      

Sarah Kucera