If you are into yoga, nutrition or herbal medicine, you may have heard of Ayurveda before. If you haven’t, we’ve got the basics covered.
Shoals Yoga owner Danielle Snoddy uses this ancient practice to heal, feed and protect herself, her son, Zeppelin, and her clients.
Ayurveda is the oldest science that is still practiced. Originating in India around 5,000 B.C., Ayurveda stands for the knowledge of life — Ayur means “life,” Veda means “knowledge.” Ayurvedic practices do not stop at food, but also include digestion, sleep, routine, self care and exercise.
Snoddy said Ayurvedic consultations generally begin with a test to find out what is out of balance in your body. There are three “doshas” in Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata reflects the qualities of ether (space) and air, Pitta reflects the qualities of fire and water, and Kapha reflects the qualities of water and earth.
I took several unofficial Ayurvedic tests online, and these all asked very specific questions such as:
“Are you more prone to being hot or cold?”
“Is your hair thin and oily? Or coarse and dry?”
“Do you prefer routine or spontaneity?”
“How do you handle anxiety?”
“How do you sleep at night? Lightly or deeply?”
“Are your dreams slow and romantic? Or quick and full of tension?”
After taking these tests, the results show which doshas are out of balance. For myself, these tests showed a unanimous Pitta imbalance. This means that I get hot easily, have dry skin, have dry hair, prefer spontaneity over routine and have a racing mind.
Those with a Pitta imbalance are discouraged from doing things that create more heat in the body such as staying up late, eating spicy foods, and drinking alcohol. Ayurveda also recommends that those with a Pitta imbalance implement cooling practices such as avoiding high-impact sports and a daily self-massage with a cooling oil, such as coconut.
Kapha imbalances tend to show up in the form of heaviness, such as being lethargic, doing the same things everyday, and choosing bland, oily foods. They are encouraged by Ayurveda to implement a new routine to stimulate them and encouraged to be more active.
Vata imbalances manifest in the forms of nervousness, anxiety and fear. Snoddy said Vata imbalance is usually the first perpetrator people encounter. To decrease these symptoms, Ayurveda recommends establishing a routine, implementing practices that create more warmth in the body and daily self-massage with a warming oil, such as sesame.
Ayurveda is based around the belief that each person has a unique constitution. This means that could be medicine to one person could be poison to another, and that each of our bodies need to be understood and brought back into balance in order to function at our greatest potential. Ayurveda also teaches that like increases like, and what is opposite brings balance.
“When someone is out of balance they tend to gravitate towards what is keeping them out of balance,” Snoddy said. “What they need is consistency to stay grounded and feel at ease. Self-destructive behaviors manifest when we fail to remember that we are all body and spirit; all divine. Ayurveda teaches that it is our birthright to be healthy and take our health into our own hands. Our true nature is alive, at ease and joyful.”
To schedule an Ayurvedic consultation with Snoddy or get information about the Ayurvedic workshops Shoals Yoga hosts, visit their website or call (256) 702-3022.