what is ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an ancient healing science reaching back over 5,000 years ago from India. Ayurveda, literally means “the science of life.” Ayurveda is a system embraced by those of any belief system. It is not a religion. It is the science of developing greater harmony with our environment through all of our senses; our sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.  Overall, we see an awareness growing in our western world, and are slowly beginning to accept the reality that we are responsible for much of what causes the illness in our physical body, as well as our mental states. The principles of Ayurveda have become foreign over the centuries as modern medicine and the rise of pharmaceuticals have taken the plac of natures simplicity. Though the esoteric principles are a language that our fast paced western world doesn't naturally relate to, they are the most simple, whole and healthful way to living a life of vitality and balance! Why DO we wait until medications and surgeries are the only choice? Most times these choices result in a poor quality of life. We have become detached from our true selves over time and with modern science, lazy. As we see a new awareness of our physical and mental bodies blossoming, fueling our bodies along with our minds through mindful eating and healthy lifestyle choices will connect us to who we really are so that our bodies can do its innate healing.
Our bodies begin to "speak" to us, starting as a whisper (maybe a little pain, or digestive disturbance), and eventually it can appear to be screaming at us! This is when we begin to think "there is something going on", and NOW I need to address it. Those whispers, and sometimes screams are symptoms which our bodies are alerting us to, and telling us that it is not happy with us. We call this "disease" int he West. Ayurveda says this "dis-ease" is us living out of harmony with ourselves and our environment. If we choose not to listen to these pleas, we can experience unnecessary pain and suffering in these bodies, and just as equally in our minds. Physical disease begins in the digestive system. Our minds also play a large part in manifesting symptoms in our physical bodies.
We are all born unique, and that makes life more fun and interesting for certain!We each have a unique constitution, or biological makeup which determines our features, our bodies ability to heal, to digest, our levels of energy, likes and dislikes, emotional reactions, perceptions, etc... 
At the core of Ayurveda are the five elements of nature. This is important in understanding how our bodies and their functions correspond to all the elements of nature and the seasonal cycles. What do the five elements have to do with our health and our bodies? Simply put, being that our bodies correspond to the seasonal cycles, and all 5 elements in nature, we learn to flow with and adjust as we learn more about who we are as individuals. It can be tough to introduce “new” ideas of thinking about our individual responses.
Let’s liken our bodies, particularly our digestive system, to a campfire. If you’ve built a campfire and it got a little out of control, you would either use water or earth to calm it down, or put it out, right?  Relating this to your digestive system, if you are experiencing heat in your body, such as inflammation, ulcers, acid reflux, or fevers, you would eat or drink sweet, moist, and cool things. When dry or cold, we use warm and moist things. When mucousy or heavy, we eat/drink lighter, drier and hotter. Basically, treating through opposites! Does this not make perfect sense? It’s that simple!
What are the three biological energies and what do they mean?
The terms Vata (vah -tah), Pitta (pit-ah), and Kapha (kah-fa), are the three biological energies of our bodies. These are traditional Sanskrit, and very ancient terms. Instead, we will approach this section by using Fall/Winter (Vata), Spring (Kapha), and Summer (Pitta) respectively.
  • The Fall/Winter type (Vata) is comprised of air and ether. This is cold and dry.This is movement in our bodies (in and out) and minds. In nature, the wind is quick, restless, and constantly changing.  The native people of North America call the wind gossip because it is always moving around, spreading everyone’s news! Air is the messenger in all parts of the body, the CARRIER.  People with a primary constitution of Fall/Winter are usually thin, with small bones, and tend to have irregular features. They don’t gain weight easily and are those people who don’t typically have a problem in that area. They are high energy and contagious types tending to be creative and inspirational. When IMBALANCED, anxiety, worry, and overwhelm as well as digestive issues such as constipation, irritable bowel, and arthritis are prevalant.
  • Spring types (Kapha) are comprised of the elements of earth and water. This is moist and heavy.This is our physical body structure and  our immunity. This is what grounds us. This is where we see weight gain. The Spring type has moist, supple skin, larger eyes and thick hair. They tend to be a little stockier, with larger bones, great endurance and stamina. Their personalities are nurturing, compassionate, and gentle.  They are loyal, and once a decision is made, they stick with it. They may move a little more slowly, but will finish the job! When IMBALANCED, they tend toward easy weight gain, and excessive body mass. It creates dullness, sluggishness or heaviness in our minds if too stagnant with activity.
  • Summer types (Pitta) are comprised of fire and water. This is hot and oily. It is the transformative energy in our bodies. It is the force behind our ability to digest food. It is our digestive fire. When our fire is strong, we digest smoothly and well. If not so strong, things sit in our gut and become toxic which creates illness eventually. The summer type personality is strong. The tend to be intense and focused. They are good leaders with clear speech. Their physical structure is athletic with moderate build and bones. They have intense eyes and more angular face shapes. When IMBALANCED, they tend toward anger and irritability.  They can become very competitive with themselves and others, resulting in burnout and the inability to see things clearly. Physical manifestations are skin inflammations, such as acne or rashes, acid reflux, heartburn, and liver disorders.
We each have a varying degrees of each element, therefore making each of us totally unique in our constitution (our physical, emotional and mental make up from birth.. who we really are). Over time, we get used to living a certain way, and most times due to our culture and societal norms, become muddied in our bodies and our minds. Now remember that the two are not separate, but are treated simultaneously. Western medicine treats symptoms, focuses on a part. If you are looking to make real changes which will become a part of how you operate every day, in rhythm with all that is around you, with more clarity and energy, learning about who you are and how the principles of Ayurveda introduced into your daily life can bring you back to your original state of balance. I invite you to discover transformation in your life by allowing healing and vitality to begin through choice.