17 May 2019
Your Questions Answered: What is Ayurveda?
An ancient Indian medicinal concept, Ayurveda is increasingly gaining precedence in mainstream wellness world. We asked Jo Webber, Head of Herbal Education at Pukka, to elaborate on what exactly Ayurveda is, how it works and the benefits it can bring.
An ancient Indian medicinal concept, Ayurveda is increasingly gaining precedence in mainstream wellness world.
We asked Jo Webber, Head of Herbal Education at Pukka, to elaborate on what exactly Ayurveda is, how it works and the benefits it brings.
Let’s get straight to the point – what is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is otherwise known as ‘the science of life’ (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It teaches us how to live a healthy, wholesome and more fulfilled life by balancing your mind, body and spirit, and takes a holistic approach to medicine.
The values and vision of Ayurveda are at the heart of Pukka; Ayurveda is all about sustainable health as well as helping us fulfil our potential and that’s what Pukka is all about.
Doshas are central to Ayurveda, but what exactly are they?
Although we are all beautifully unique, and there are as many different constitutions as there are people, Ayurveda divides us into three main constitutional types; vata, pitta and kapha, otherwise known as doshas.
The doshas are qualities that influence all of the body’s functions, from biological processes to thoughts and feelings. We all contain vata, pitta and kapha but it is their combination that makes us who we are.
Doshas, although present from birth, are not fixed – they can change according to what foods we eat, how late we go to bed, how stressed we are, whether the weather is hot or cold etc.
What are the benefits of Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is complete as a medical system because it not only looks at the treatment of diseases but at health in all aspects; mental balance, physical health, social welfare, relationships, diet, daily living trends and more.
It teaches respect for nature and appreciation of life by showing us how we can empower ourselves as individuals.
Can Ayurvedic living help with managing stress?
Yes, absolutely. Ayurveda helps us to reflect, achieve balance and lead more conscious lives amidst a busy, technology-led world. This is increasingly helpful to aid us in processing the pressures of modern-day living, which can leave us feeling stressed, anxious, tired and run down.
Adaptogens - herbs that help the body adapt - are used widely in Ayurveda. Adaptogenic herbs, such as ashwagandha and turmeric, nourish the adrenal glands and central nervous system. They are traditionally used to relieve stress and anxiety, and by moderating the release of stress hormones within the body, they can help us to adapt to emotional and physical stressors.
What does Ayurvedic eating look like?
Ayurveda considers good digestion to be at the heart of good health. Knowing your dosha will help you to discover the right foods and times to eat for your mind/body type.
In Ayurveda, there are five digestive spices, which have been used for thousands of years with incredible success. There are also some commonly available herbs which help balance the doshas and support digestion. Most of these are triodoshic, making them especially useful as they are good for all doshas.
Chewing a handful of cumin, fennel, cardamom and coriander seeds after a meal is still a common practice in India - these spices work gently but powerfully to help enhance your own digestive abilities.
Where does exercise fit in?
As we know, there are three different body types or constitutions known as ‘dosha’: Kapha, Pitta and Vata. Each dosha will have certain characteristics and body types, with certain forms of exercise most suited to each dosha:
Kapha types really benefit from getting a sweat on. They are able to sustain longer periods of metabolic activity as they have excellent stamina. They might find exercises such as swimming, trampolining, skipping or hula-hooping fun.
Pitta types are the natural athletes and are often found challenging themselves and pushing themselves to the limit. But they can get bored easily, and so benefit from fun and creative exercise.
Vata types often have slim and delicate body frames, and so benefit from strengthening and balancing exercises such as yoga or brisk walking.
As well as physical exercise, it's also important for all dosha types to consider recovery too. Prolonged pressure and strain on the muscles, joints and skeletal system can result in inflammation, pain and swelling, negatively impacting upon mobility and capability. This is where herbs can really help - Pukka’s Turmeric Active tea is a great support for everyday mobility and flexibility.
Visit Pukka’s website to find out what your dosha is and how best to live in harmony with your unique body type.