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Ditch the Vata Pitta Kapha Dosha approach, pass by the Panchmahabhuta and use the 20 gunas as the best way in self-care.
The Dosha's are the most popular used terms from Ayurveda but they are a categorizing system and have been misapplied as energetics themselves. It all began thousands of years ago when the science of Ayurveda was taken from an oral tradition and written down in the Vedas.
Ayurveda was changed and adapted over time in different regions of India and into Tibet.
Ayurveda was 'cleaned up' to make it more civilized! It was systematized into a science and pruned from what appeared to be a pagan type ritual based way to a healthy body-mind-environment. According to Dr Rama Prasad Ayurveda was marketed to make it more appealing and in the process the Doshas became sellable concepts which have seriously stuck!
The Doshas were not intended by the RIshis to be the main approach of Ayurveda, but rather a way to talk about all things dry, rough, hot, slow etc. We do ourselves a disservice and easily become confused when we label ourselves with them constitutionally. We bump into their limitations constantly and this approach doesn't take into account the natural flexibility our bodies have to adjust during a day, or the way we present Vikruti needs.
But what about my Doshic constitution (Prakruti)?
Being aware of your tendencies is very helpful in self-care, and your predisposition to certain symptoms will be based on your constitution. If you're predominantly a Pitta 'type' person for example it's wise to be cautious applying heat to your body if you feel cold because it could flare up as skin rash or other Pitta based symptom.
Knowing your Prakruti using the Doshas is a great piece of information, although very difficult to ascertain from a Dosha questionnaire alone. In fact it takes a trained physician an average of four hours to truly know a patient's Prakruti. A questionnaire will most often hint at your Prakruti through your presenting health needs (Vikruti).
It is very tricky to know at any given moment in our day, as we make constant lifestyle decisions, whether something is V P or K and then do we need that right now. Plus there's too many factors at play such as the season, our age, our Vikruti and so forth - in fact Dr Rama Prasad reckons there are 33 factors to take into account!
Use the gunas instead of the Doshas to easily make the best health decisions.
Pass through the five elements of space, air, fire, water and earth as tempting as they are to work out what you should have for dinner tonight ;) and head to the 20 gunas as properties of your food and how you feel right now. These are words that make sense to us, like adjectives.
The 20 gunas
Properties of your food and other substances that you choose to take into your system - they become you, choose well and remember like increases like!
Heavy – Light
Cold – Hot
Unctuous – Dry
Slow – Sharp
Stable – Mobile
Soft – Hard
Slimy – Rough
Viscous – Liquid
Gross – Subtle
Cloudy – Clear
It's simpler than you think.
Keep it simple, at a level you deeply know to be true. Ask yourself questions based on your senses like 'Am I cold?'. If the answer is yep, I'm cold, then avoid cold food! Sure that's all Vata but what if it's Kapha coolness and how would you proceed if you know your constitution to be P and it's Spring which is K time of the year!!!
If you're cold, you're cold! The presenting need Vikruti is for warmth. Don't shy away from giving yourself warmth because you're a P person - you'll know what warm feels like to YOU and equally what too hot is like!
When you tap into the fundamental gunas, that themselves fall into the categories P V K, you'll be addressing your presenting needs. You can trust your body's inherent wisdom to make sensible decisions, if you bravely listen to it! In this way you'll avoid aggravating illness potentials that lie deep in your system.
Trust yourself, use your senses Indriya well and reflect at the end of the day how you went. If you've a serious health condition please see your health professional and help your Ayurvedic practitioner steer clear of the V P K trap too!
Got a question? Comment below, we're here to help.
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The AyurB team and health professionals from our community. If you'd like to write a Blog post contact Jess.
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