The Ayurvedic Culinary Tradition:
Ayurveda—from ayur, meaning "life," and veda, meaning "science or knowledge"—is an ancient theory of mind-body wellness that dates back more than 5,000 years to ancient India. The guiding principles of the Ayurvedic diet are balance and nourishment, both of the body and mind. According to the Ayurvedic doctrine, nourishing the body nourishes the soul—and vice versa—leading to better overall wellness.
Practitioners of Ayurveda believe that the mind and body are connected and there are three different mind-body types or Doshas - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Everyone has a unique mix of these Doshas which control various bodily functions, but most people are dominated by one. The main goal of practicing Ayurveda is to balance all three Doshas so that your body and mind function at their healthiest.
Ayurveda emphasizes balance, prevention, and self-healing. Ayurveda encourages you to be an active participant in your own journey towards healing. It is a system of holistic healing, because it looks at the whole picture of total health: unity of mind, body and spirit.
The Ayurvedic approach to cooking developed over thousands of years, and is based on the experience of millions of people. It boasts a rich understanding of the various effects that foods can have on a person’s health. It also capitalizes on the tremendous bounty of vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains and spices traditionally available in the Asian sub-continent. It views all of these items not just as sources of sustenance and flavor, but as the foundation for good health – physically, mentally and spiritually.
You do not just become the food you eat by virtue of the activity of your digestive system; you recognize that you, the eater, are also the food you are eating.
Your constitution “prakriti” is important to know:
The answer to these questions can help us to have proper choice regarding our diet and lifestyle and stay healthy.
Prakriti is your body constitution/body type. It is the key determinant of how one individual is different from other. Ayurveda describes the interaction of three essential energy complexes, known as the “Doshas” that govern our mind and body, creating a blueprint to support our health and vitality. These doshas are derived from five elements of nature: air, water, earth, space/ether and fire. Out of these elements derive the three Ayurvedic doshas: “Vata” (air/space-ether) “Pitta” (fire/water) and “Kapha” (water/earth). Ayurveda also observes the five elements within the human body. We nourish ourselves with foods from the Earth, and eventually, our body returns to the earthly matter from which it came. Water is our life-sustaining nectar, making up more than 70 percent of our total body mass. Fire provides the body with heat and radiant energy and exists within all metabolic and chemical actions. Air flows freely throughout the body, giving movement to biological functions and feeding every cell with oxygen. Space/ether is ever-present, humbly residing in the background, providing the other elements with an opportunity to interact in this way. Balance of the three ensures complete state of physical and mental well-being.
About the Doshas:
Vata - The Vata Dosha is the subtle energy associated with movement - composed of Space and Air. It governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart, and all movements in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. In balance, vata promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety.
Pitta - The Pitta Dosha controls digestion, metabolism, energy levels as well as certain hormones – made up of Fire and Water. It governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. In balance, pitta promotes understanding and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta arouses anger, hatred and jealousy.
Kapha - The Kapha Dosha governs the structure of the body controlling your immune system, strength and stability of the body, weight, and muscle growth – formed from Earth and Water. Kapha supplies the water for all bodily parts and systems. It lubricates joints, moisturizes the skin, and maintains immunity. In balance, kapha is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. Out of balance, it leads to attachment, greed and envy.
There are many characteristics that make up each Dosha and it's important to find out which mind-body type best represents you in order to keep them balanced and your body functioning at its best. Balance can be achieved through a proper diet and lifestyle.
Vata, Pitta, or Kapha? The combination of your Doshas is essential for your health. When you know what constitution you have, you better understand why you are the way you are at times. You discover what nutrition is suitable for you and how you can stay healthy, fit, and happy with yoga, exercise, and meditation.