A few months ago I was talking to a friend and (long story short) she could tell that I was pretty stressed and slipping in my self-care. She mentioned this new practice called Ayurveda to me and suggested I try it. I had never heard of it before, so I googled it and a lot of information came up about it, but I still didn't understand it. So I decided to find someone who could better explain this to me and came across Sandra Dugliss, a Certified Ayurvedic Consultant.
I reached out to her and asked her to give me (and you) an overview of what Ayurveda is and what it can do for you. Sandra came back with this great blog post for us and while some of the words can be hard to pronounce, it was an informative read. I have to admit, I have not yet practiced Ayurveda myself yet, but the more I learn about it the more interesting it is. If you have practiced it, let me know about your experience! If not, I hope you enjoy this featured blog post from Sandra and reach out to her if you are interested in trying it for yourself!
An Introduction to Ayurveda
By: Sandra Dugliss, Certified Ayurvedic Consultant
Ayurveda is an amazing holistic health science that originated in India over 5,000 years ago and is the mother of all natural systems of medicine in the world today. Its timeless wisdom is as relevant now as it was then and reveals the keys to being happier and healthier among the mounting stresses of today’s modern world. This is because the Natural Law and rhythms of Nature are always true and consistent and show us how to create balance on every level of life - physically, energetically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Ayurveda recognizes that we are a microcosm of the macrocosm. Optimal health and happiness are a result of living in harmony with Nature. Ayurvedic wisdom guides us home to our natural state, provides us with the tools for self-healing and serves as the highest form of prevention. Ayurveda empowers us to reclaim our radiance so we can pursue our passions and purpose and fully enJOY life!
Getting enough sleep, eating fresh, lively food, communing with nature and engaging in activities that support good health and happiness – and avoiding those that do not – is the focus of Ayurveda. These fundamentals have fallen by the wayside for many people in the midst of the countless demands of daily life, and for many of us, it’s time to get back to basics.
Major illnesses like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and diabetes are on the rise and those of us in the holistic health arena believe this is, in part, because we are not designed to live the way we are living. High stress, fast food, excessive use of technology, lack of sleep and rest, and fewer connections with family and community all contribute to dis-ease.
Many people agree that the healthcare system is broken, so being proactive and taking responsibility for our health and our lives is more important than ever. A more comprehensive, self-healing system is needed, and I believe that is what Ayurveda can offers us.
As an Ayurvedic Consultant, I meet each individual where they are and together we come to an understanding of what events and circumstances contributed to how they feel today. Everything affects everything, so it’s important to get the big picture view of what may have influenced your current state of wellbeing. Then, I recommend diet, lifestyle and daily routine modifications to support your body’s natural intelligence to work at its full potential. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each client is treated as an individual and recommendations are tailored to meet their specific needs.
Of all the natural health sciences, Ayurveda is unique in that it offers a five elemental and tridoshic understanding of the human being and everything in existence. This is an area of Ayurveda that can sometimes get confusing but does not need to be. Therefore, I like to simplify the three doshas - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha - and define them as words we use to describe sets of qualities and energies of anything in the Universe.
Ayurveda can be very logical and practical when you familiarize yourself with the Five Elements, Three Doshas and the 20 Qualities (10 pairs of opposites), called the Gunas.
The 5 Elements are:
The 3 Doshas are:
- Vata (Space and Air)
- Pitta (Fire and Water)
- Kapha (Water and Earth)
The 20 qualities are:
- Heavy - Light
- Cold/Cool - Hot
- Unctuous - Dry
- Slow - Sharp/Quick
- Stable - Mobile
- Soft - Hard
- Slimy - Rough
- Viscous - Liquid
- Gross - Subtle
- Cloudy - Clear
When we tie it all together:
Vata is comprised of the elements of Space and Air and its qualities are light, cold, dry, mobile, hard, rough, subtle and clear.
Pitta is comprised of the elements of Fire and Water and its qualities are light, hot, dry, sharp, mobile and subtle
Kapha is comprised of Water and Earth and its qualities are heavy, cool, unctuous, slow, stable, soft, slimy, viscous, gross and cloudy.
These are the foundational concepts on which all of Ayurveda builds upon. Once you learn them, you can make balancing choices on a day-to-day basis that support your highest good. All you have to do is remember the Ayurvedic Golden Rule for creating balance:
Like increases Like - Opposites Decrease
Practice this and you will always have a tool in your back pocket for creating balance anytime you need it!
For example, if certain foods have dry, light, cold and rough qualities- like salad or rice cakes - we would say they have vata qualities. If you are experiencing an imbalance that has similar qualities, such as dry skin and nails, we would advise you to reduce or avoid food with vata qualities because like increases like. And because opposites decrease, we would recommend incorporating more oily, heavy, warm foods in your diet to create balance and promote healing. Other common Vata imbalances include anxiety, constipation, and difficulty falling asleep.
This approach to creating balance can also be applied to the mental and emotional bodies. For example, if you experience hot Pitta emotions such as anger, resentment and frustration, it would be beneficial to reduce or avoid spicy, sour and salty foods, which are all heating and increase the fire element in the mind and body. It would also help to avoid competitive activities and overexposure to the midday sun - both have fiery qualities. Other common pitta imbalances include skin rashes, loose stools and difficulty staying asleep.
The same is true for Kapha. Let’s say it’s springtime and the weather is cold, damp and rainy and you have a cold with a runny nose and chills. Eating foods like yogurt and cottage cheese (with cold, damp, and slimy qualities) are going to create more mucus (slimy, cloudy qualities). Whatever is happening in the external environment (weather, seasonal influences) is reflected in our internal environment, so once again we want to use opposite qualities to promote balance. Therefore, warm, dry, light foods are the best choice when managing a kapha imbalance, especially in spring which is Kapha season. Other common Kapha imbalances with heavy, earthy qualities include weight gain, lethargy and depression.
These tridoshic principles apply not only to food but to everything in life, including the cyclical nature of the seasons, times of day and times of our lives. This is a big topic to explore and best saved for a discussion of its own.
Another important point to remember about food is if you want to look vibrant and enjoy abundant energy, incorporating more fresh, prana rich (infused with life force energy) foods in your diet is absolutely essential. Doing so can completely transform how you look and feel. Fresh (preferably organic) fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains provide a potent dose of prana over packaged or processed foods, including nutritional shakes and energy bars.
The choices you make regarding your lifestyle (what you do) and daily routine (when you do it) are just as important as diet and are often more effective in correcting imbalances and restoring health.
Specific areas we focus on in Ayurveda that have the greatest impact on well being are:
- Correcting sleep disturbance to support mental clarity, focus, mood regulation and to reclaim vital energy.
- Optimizing Digestion to reduce accumulated toxins, promote natural weight management and support immunity.
- Seasonal Cleansing to purify and rejuvenate the mind and body as a method of prevention and promoting longevity.
- Emotional Digestion to clear and release stuck emotional energy to feel happier, more resolved and at peace.
- Spiritual growth and inner transformation to shift patterns that keep you stuck so you can connect with a deeper part of yourself and create more joy and ease.
All of these methods can be broken down into very specific practices and routines that best suit your individual needs. Hopefully, this offers a snapshot into the scope of what Ayurveda can offer you and how it can have an immediate and direct influence on your life and well being.
I’ve been incorporating Ayurveda into my life for over 10 years and it has supported me through many difficult changes and challenges beyond what I had ever imagined it could. I’m now 52 years old, take no medication, rarely see a doctor and feel more alive and in tune with myself than I ever have. My relationship with Ayurveda deepens as the years go on, as there is always wisdom I can draw upon to guide and support me and offset negative influences of the outer world.
Professionally, my Ayurvedic practice has evolved over the years and my focus now is supporting people on their journey of Spiritual Awakening, which is my greatest joy.
If you would like to learn more about my offerings, please visit my website:
If you are interested in becoming an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner, or if you are a massage therapist, yoga instructor, energy worker, therapist or medical professional interested in incorporating Ayurveda into your practice, we offer comprehensive online training from any location. The next New World Ayurveda Ayurvedic Health Practitioner Training Program begins in September and we are accepting applications now. To learn more, please visit:
Sandra Dugliss is an Ayurvedic Consultant, Spiritual Mentor, Yoga and Meditation Instructor and Energy Worker. She sees clients from any location via the Internet and telephone, or in person in Portland, Maine.